Bonnaroo Hayes: Black helicopters and phantom rap stars

Investigating Bonnaroo rumors from a half-mile away

Eminem tearing it up on the What Stage on Saturday, June 11, 2011 at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

Photo by Jigsha Desai // Buy this photo

Eminem tearing it up on the What Stage on Saturday, June 11, 2011 at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

MANCHESTER, Tenn. - Did Dre make it?

I'm a reporter - I have no idea. But the rumor was that, in the Bonnaroo tradition of surprise appearances and collaborations, Dr. Dre might be joining headliner Eminem on the festival's main stage Saturday night.

Or at least, that's the way I heard it from a photographer who knows a guy whose buddy works for Bonnaroo promoters AC Entertainment.

Adding to the constant buzz of excitement at Bonnaroo were the black helicopters swooping in and out of the grounds at all hours, apparently ferrying performers (the big ones, anyway) from the airport in nearby Tullahoma to the Tennessee cow pasture that is Bonnaroo.

And the way I heard it, Dre and Em (yeah, like I know 'em) had come in from LA the day before to get a low-key tour of the grounds, then got back onto the helicopter to the private jet to LA (or who knows, maybe they stopped by the CMA festival in Nashville) and then back into Manchester via private jet/black helicopter again for the Saturday night show.

In hindsight, that really does sound kind of impractical. But black helicopters have a way of stoking one's imagination, I guess.

Before Eminem's show late Saturday, while he and Friday night headliner Lil Wayne were hanging out, they apparently couldn't move from one well-guarded backstage tent to another well-guarded backstage tent all of 20 feet away without hopping a ride in a black Suburban.

And that was just to avoid the throngs of gawking music journalists and photogs and hangers-on beyond the general admission areas.

So the idea of a music superstar, let alone two, managing a low-key tour of Bonnaroo is a bit of a stretch, even for a news reporter who has no clue what he's doing on his first stab at entertainment writing.

Of course, I still made sure to file my next-day story in time to catch Eminem's show, which I watched from what seemed like a half-mile away.

There were no other performances scheduled to overlap Mr. Mathers' gig at the What Stage, Bonnaroo's largest. It made me wonder how many of Bonnaroo's 80,000 attendees made up the crowd, which very well may have been one of the largest I've ever stood among at a concert.

Eminem took the stage with a live band, backup singers, backup rappers and huge digital projection screens.

I never saw Dre, though.

I guess I'll have to work on my sources – Bonnaroo's a tough gig to cover.

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Comments » 2

oceandeck writes:

Wouldn't let them pay ME to see this cr@p

RandallBrown (staff) writes:

Great coverage, Hayes!

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