by Chris Rotolo, Senior Staff Writer
Manchester, TN – By the time River City Extension neared the end of its hour-long set front-man Joe Michelini had shed his pork-pie hat and his sandles, but it was his sleeveless t-shirt that told the tale of this sweltering afternoon performance, once a light shade of pink transformed to a soggy orange hue.
But the heat had been beaten, and the toothy grin that washed over each member of the 8-piece Folk-Rock outfit’s faces was almost as large as the roaring wave of adulation produced by the sea of This Tent spectators that engulfed the stage like the misty surf crashing into the Jersey Shore line.
“This is an awesome experience,” expressed Michelini to an audience that had grown beyond capacity. “I’ve wanted to come down to Bonnaroo for years but New Jersey and Tennessee, we’re not too close.”
Geographically, that statement may be true, but great music knows no boundaries, and proof of that was observed when a diverse audience composed of fans from around the world, that included as many silver studded Punks sporting spike bracelets as straw hatted Folk fans, joyously crooned and flailed about to every word of the group’s 2010 debut full-length The Unmistakable Man.
This Tent had morphed from a sandy festival venue to a house of musical worship, Michelini’s powerful lyrics of love, family, and spirits were the sermon moving one woman to faint backward into the arms of her lover, only to be revived moments later by the vocalist’s raspy plead of “I want to go home!” during the closing number “Friends And Family.”
“The bible is full of cool stories,” said Andrew Sanders, 24, from Memphis, TN, while discussing River City Extension’s set, “but I can’t dance to them. Music just makes more sense…Bonnaroo is a magical place.”
NOTE: The band was generous enough to grant me an interview…that story will be coming soon, either through the Asbury Park Press or Speak Into My Good Eye.
More Photos of River City Extension: