90,000 people losing their minds over the chorus of "Crocodile Rock" may be one of the most euphoric (and totally bonkers over-the-top insane) sounds you'll ever hear, but Elton John's closing set at Bonnaroo was a completely uplifting and hit-ridden way to end the festival's thirteenth year. "Rocketman," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Tiny Dancer"--he broke out all the hits, and we mean all of them, so be sure to read up on the full review.
In addition to 28 Grams, Wiz Khalifa celebrated his personal style--or at least that's what he riffed on in between blunt and rap hits throughout his Bonnaroo set. The Taylor Gang rapper mentioned that plenty of people continue to comment on his "look," which seemed totally believable given that Wiz opted for a pair of Tevas and a topper rivaling Pharrell's. Sartorial choices aside, the crowd devoured "Look What I Got On," "Roll Up" and more from the recent #freedtrapwiz.
Only The Avett Brothers can rip their guitar, cello, banjo and bass strings to shreds blasting through bluegrass-infused rock one minute and then turn the lights and the electricity off for a stripped-down spiritual. That's exactly what they did as the sun set over Bonnaroo Sunday, taking a break from chasing each other up and down the stage with their respective solos to gather around the microphone and harmonize a cappella. Earnest and straightforward or chaotic and turned-up, The Avett Brothers work on either end of the spectrum--or at least that's what the sea of people had to say that stretched across the entire field before them.
Arctic Monkeys were on everybody's minds long before they took to the main stage for their Bonnaroo set Sunday afternoon. Both Sam Smith and MS MR had covered "Do I Wanna Know?" earlier at the festival, but that hardly swayed the massive crowd from belting along to the dark and addictive hit for the third time in four days.
The Sheffield rockers mixed up their latest offering, AM, with the post-punk standards of their early days. "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" is just one of those songs that gets better each and every time they play it, and Bonnaroo was no exception to the rule.
And to think, Shovels & Rope took a junkyard drum kit and a beat-up guitar, and they crafted some of the most beautiful, brutally honest bluegrass-tinged songs out of the South in a minute! The follow-up to 2012's O' Be Joyful is right around the corner, and Carey Ann Hearst and Michael Trent did the Bluegrass Situation's stage proud while causing a ruckus one boot-stomp and country lick at a time. A little bit country, a lot of rock n' roll and a solid representation of Tennessee's roots via these Nashville transplants at its biggest festival? It made for a twangy breath of fresh air at Bonnaroo.
Remember that time Skrillex invited a bunch of incredible performers (Janelle Monaé, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Mystikal [!!!], ASAP Ferg, Cage the Elephant, Robby Krieger of The Doors, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, etc.) to basically bring the most perfect party mix tape imaginable to life? Yeah. That was kind of the best, and it completely changes how we think of and appreciate Skrillex's musical mad scientist ways.
Jack White took a sip of Kanye's rant-y juice before his set and took a dig at Rolling Stone for their recent cover story before launching into a bunch of random anecdotes that name-checked Johnny Depp, Jim Jarmusch and the auto workers of Detroit. Favorite quote: "This is like China meeting the internet all at once, man!" which White exclaimed while admiring a lit sky lantern that a member of the crowd was pinpointing with a lazer. White worked a few revered hits from his catalogue into a Lazaretto-hyping set, dusting off The Raconteur's "Steady As She Goes" and the ultimate encore of "Seven Nation Army" nearly two hours after he'd initially taken the stage.
Damon Albarn's solo debut, Everyday Robots, is a triumph, but it was the Blur frontman's return to the huge hits of his Gorillaz days that had the main stage crowd at Bonnaroo totally freaking out at various points throughout his set. Albarn tapped De La Soul for their incredible verses on "Feel Good, Inc." and introduced "Clint Eastwood" with a sly "I always feel slightly smug when I say this..." before bringing out Del tha Funkee Homosapien.
"Everything is Everything?" Nope, "Everything" is simply Ms. Lauryn Hill. Despite the fact that she kept fans waiting for half an hour and blitzed through "Doo Wop (That Thing)" in favor of closing out her set with a "Could You Be Loved" cover, Hill's return to the festival circuit was a welcome one rife with Fugees throwbacks (with not one but two performances of "Killing Me Softly") and plenty of favorites from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Sincere appreciation for both Chromeo's ability to host the best dance party ever while goofing off and keeping it light onstage and their sartorial prowess. (P-Thugg definitely wore a shirt of his own face for their set. Dave 1, can we borrow that leather jacket?) White Women made for the perfect sunset soundtrack on Saturday, and "Jealous" continues to be one of the strongest dance floor anthems of the season.
Apparently, Kanye West took a page from buddy Beyoncé's playbook, because that Bonnaroo set was # F L A W L E S S. Okay, so things got a little weird with the ranting and the raving--especially that part where Kanye just crooned "I'LL NEVER PLAY AT THE SUPER BOOOOOWL" for two straight minutes--but otherwise, the rapper's return to Bonnaroo was the definition of a triumph. Read our full review.
"Electric Lady," "Cold War," "PrimeTime"--whether you were slow-dancing with a Bonnaromance or whipping yourself into a frenzy, you were into whatever Janelle Monaé was serving up if you were lucky enough to catch her at Bonnaroo. "Dance Apocalyptic" may be one of the best songs to experience at a music festival out there, and yesterday's take on it was no exception. Before calling it a day, Monaé leapt into the crowd and ran amongst the infatuated with the fervor and choreography of a Broadway star escaping her home of an insane asylum. Super fun to watch, and easily the most energetic set of the afternoon on Friday.
If you didn't well up at least once or sing along with the fervor of the choir in Sister Act 2 to "Stay With Me" during Sam Smith's set, we seriously question whether or not you have a heart or just a gritty lump of coal in your chest. This man has the voice of an angel, plain and simple, and the next best thing to happen to British pop received a warm welcome at his first ever music festival gig.
DIARRHEA PLANET LITERALLY SWUNG FROM THE RAFTERS ON FRIDAY. First, the Nashville six-piece/small army of guitar maniacs plowed through pretty much every song off I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams. Then the crowdsurfers started, a steady avalanche of people hurling themselves towards the front of the stage like salmon trying to swim upstream, except the water was a bunch of burly security guards who weren't too amused with the rock madness unfolding before them. Next, a guy in a banana suit wasn't satiated by his bout of crowdsurfing, sohe scaled the side of the Miller Lite New Music On Tap Lounge and started doing pull-ups on the tent's support beam. And if that wasn't enough, two of the band's four guitarists crowdsurfed with axes in hand, and one of them pulled a Tarzan and swung upside down on the support beam TO FINISH HIS FREAKING SOLO. Everybody can go home. Kanye or no Kanye, Diarrhea Planet win Bonnaroo for gymnastic feats alone. (And seriously, Bonnaroo bookers, can we get these guys a bigger stage next time?)
No Arcade Fire or Sleigh Bells covers to speak of, but Danny Brown's Bonnaroo set was an hour of plain ol' fun. Extra points to the guy dressed as Jesus (down to the sash and sandals) who crowdsurfed somewhere around "Dip" and made security do a double take. (On a related note: there were multiple dudes dressed as Jesus yesterday, as well as several Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne pairings and a few Super Marios. When did Bonnaroo become Halloween?!)
Though Kanye didn't come out for a premature Bonnaroo cameo during friend and frequent collaborator Pusha T's set, it didn't really matter. Pusha closed out the fest's first day with its most enthusiastic singalong (or rap-along, we guess).
People were crowdsurfing so hard they practically somersaulting into the photo pit, and every hand was in the air from the Kanye-less (though still strong) "So Appalled" to "Who I Am" and every razor-sharp verse in between. Though Pusha also didn't stick around for Kanye's insanely anticipated performance Friday night, it would have been great to see the Yeezus show get a hefty dose of additional talent. And given how the crowd responded to Pusha T, it seems like he'd be more than able to go toe-to-toe with Mr. West.
As we're deep in the throes of '90s nostalgia, a band like Cloud Nothings is perfect for when you've got to sink your teeth into an anthemic chorus and rip into an onslaught of power chords. (They sound like they'd fit in on the Empire Records soundtrack perfectly, and that can only be a good thing.)
The band's latest record Here and Nowhere Else is practically brand new as it just came out in April, so Bonnaroo served as the perfect place for Cloud Nothings to dive into the new stuff with a rapt audience before them. It was the jaw drop-inducing "Wasted Days" from 2013's Attack on Memory that drew the most intense applause, and that's hardly surprising: The guys jammed out for nearly 10 minutes over the course of the breakdown, and Bonnaroo ate up every second of it.
Their slow, meditative start was a little tough to get into, but as soon as The Preatures revved up their unapologetically indie pop engines, they became a fast Bonnaroo favorite right from the get-go. Isabella Manfredi is a stylistic chameleon, bouncing back and forth between the confectionary vibes of '80s pop icons ("Is This How You Feel?") to wide-eyed, adoring love songs ("Better Than It Ever Could Be") with ease. This was The Preatures' first foray into Bonnaroo territory--and their first visit to Tennessee!--so here's hoping we see them on the main stage in the future.
After opening with a stunning take on Nina Simone's "Be My Husband," ZZ Ward brought a flawless set to the Bonnaroo table that banked on big voices, blues guitar and musical chemistry so intense you could light a match with it. Here's the thing about ZZ: She screams, belts, croons and shakes herself into submission each and every show, and yet she's cool as can be while doing it, working herself into a frenzy without so much as breaking a sweat. She's a site and spectacular sound to behold, and to say she converted more than a few fans at Bonnaroo would be a serious understatement.
To say that the meteoric rise of Banks is an impressive feat would be an understatement, as girl's driving thousands to her stages and she hasn't even dropped her full-length debut yet!
Sweeping onstage in a black cape Stevie Nicks would covet, Banks enraptured the audience with ambient swells and a mesmerizing performance culling from the soon-to-be hits of Goddess. Amid the din of thumping bass and distorted guitar licks ringing across the Manchester fields, Banks' heady, hypnotic set was heavy on the new stuff and a bit of an escape from the harder edges of the Bonnaroo lineup. She's got a soaring voice, she's mysterious, she breaks the mold of the brash and boisterous pop star a la Katy, Miley and the like, and she became a festival mainstay within a year of dropping her very first single. Banks has star power, and Bonnaroo got a serious dose of that firsthand.