Two full days have passed since the end of the 11th annual Bonnaroo Music And Arts Festival. Now that we’ve finally slept and showered, it is time to use our clear-ish heads to appraise the four-day musical celebration that spreads across 700 acres of farm in Manchester, TN. Here are some of the best sets we saw.
The electric-rock duo set the bar high for acts to come on Thursday night of Bonnaroo. Phantogram played its most popular songs like “16 Years,” “When I’m Small” and “Mouthful Of Diamonds,” led by Sarah Barthel’s airy vocals and Josh Carter’s swirling guitars. The set was accompanied by an awesome light show, and the high-energy performance got everyone on their feet to dance.
On Day Two of the festival, Radiohead rocked out for a two-and-a-half hour show, taking two encores in the 25-song set that spanned the band’s entire career. Matched with a mind-boggling light show, tracks like “Lotus Flower,” “There, There” and “Karma Police” left the crowd in awe. Radiohead dedicated “Supercollider” to Jack White, which has led to whispers about a possible collaboration in the near future.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers tore up the What Stage on Day Three. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees’ two-hour set included an equal amount of new and old music to keep all kinds of fans happy. Opening with “Monarchy Of Roses,” they pumped up the audience for favorites like “Give It Away,” “Dani California” and “Suck My Kiss.”
Art Vs. Science
The Australian three-piece dance band was extremely busy this Bonnaroo weekend. Playing two scheduled sets and then popping up here and there for surprise performances, there was no time for the group to get tired. Enthusiastic and out-of-its-mind weird, the band was hard to miss in matching silver jumpsuits. From the choreographed head-banging to beer-chugging on stage, Art Vs. Science’s entire act was infectiously fun.
Beach Boys made Sunday’s weather a little less gloomy with their bright and bubbly set. United for their global 50th anniversary tour, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks brought together thousands of people, young and old, to hear them play for one of the first times in two decades. Even though the Beach Boys are no longer “boys,” they still know how to charm. As beach balls bounced, people all over sang and clapped to the classics “Surfing Safari” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.”
Justin Vernon and his Bon Iver band members did the impossible on Day Four of Bonnaroo: They managed to calm the hyped-up festival-goers into near silence for an entire hour-and-a-half set. It was a nice break from the dancing, stomping and clapping that was non-stop all weekend. Exploring a dynamic range of sound, songs like “Perth,“ “Skinny Love“ and “The Wolves” were downright beautiful. But apparently the experience wasn’t as enchanting for the band as Vernon criticized the stage they were playing on. While Bonnaroo tried to make the What Stage a more intimate setting, Vernon said they were too “cramped” as they squeezed all nine members of Bon Iver and their instruments on one small platform. But, hey, they looked and sounded great.
Fun. was scheduled to play at the same time as the Shins, Civil Wars and Young The Giant, but fans still flocked to That Tent to watch the spectacle that is Fun. The pop group promised Rolling Stone that this would be its “best show of the year,” and the band truly delivered. Starting the set with songs like “One Foot,” “Walking The Dog” and “It Gets Better,” Fun. made a risky decision to save its crowd-romping hits till the end. Luckily, the plan did not backfire, and the audience only got crazier as Bonnaroo security guards were caught off guard with swarms of crowd-surfers during “We Are Young” and “Some Nights.”
Phish wrapped up Bonnaroo with a jam-packed four-hour set. The festival could not have had a better ending. Focusing on its country and funk material, the group wowed all who remained at Bonnaroo. As if Phish weren’t enough, Kenny Rogers made an unforgettable guest appearance when he sang “The Gambler” with the band. Whether you were watching the plethora of hula-hoopers or synchronized dancers with blow-up bananas, everywhere you looked people were ecstatic.