Everyone who was with me at R. Kelly can TESTIFY that I was obsessed with the ASL interpreters at Bonnaroo. They were at every show and knew every word and were at times more interesting to watch. I know their presence is mandated, but I’m sure nowhere in the law it says they need to get down.
Gawker already reported on Holly, one of the interpreters who brought her A-game to Wu Tang, Matt & Kim and R. Kelly. But she was not the only one. I think there was about a dozen interpreters. They all took turns jumping on the side of the stage. Some were straightforward, but for the most part they got real into it.
I’m sure we’ve all been to a big speech or assembly and have seen the standard ASL interpreter telling you what’s going on. But Bonnaroo is all about letting your freak flag fly and going big. The ASL interpreters were not afraid to embody that.
R. Kelly’s set changed my life. He was an amazing performer and there was so much going on with balloons and gospel choirs. It was very intense. And yet I couldn’t help but watch the interchanging ASL interpreters express his songs with their entire bodies. They were body rolling and mouthing the words and at times more impressive than what was going on on-stage.
Matt & Kim took advantage of it by calling the ASL interpreters onstage to sign out swears. Other artists improvised parts of their sets and the interpreters went right along. They were true performers. There were about 12 or so interpreters who rotated through each and every set. I saw the same interpreters at several shows I went to and they brought it each and every time.
The interpreters took their jobs seriously. If I was going to rely on an interpreter to see the lyrics, I wouldn’t want someone boring. It was great to see them enjoying the music! And even better: I now know how to sign “Mama rolling that body.”
Featured image via NYPost.com