Recapping the best of Bonnaroo
Published: Thursday, June 14, 2012
Updated: Thursday, June 14, 2012 01:06
Large music festivals have swept the nation, allowing fans from across the country to see some of the year’s best touring performers in one weekend. Bonnaroo has been aggregating entertainment on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tenn. for the past 11 years.
It goes without saying that the festival is huge, having been named one of Rolling Stone’s “50 Moments that Changed Rock & Roll.” This year’s lineup included more than 100 acts, ranging from Alternative rock, to dubstep, to hip hop.
With more than 50,000 other music lovers running around and many shows overlapping, it’s impossible to catch every show. The Oracle runs down some of Bonnaroo’s most memorable performances.
Radiohead – Friday
Tampa residents might have gotten a taste of Radiohead’s full-on sound and dazzling visuals when they visited the Tampa Bay Times Forum in February. They had the same stage setup, which consisted of levitating LCD screens that showed their performance in real time, except the scale of the whole performance was vamped up to match the magnitude of Bonnaroo’s main stage and the 50,000 people filling out the massive field in front of it.
But unlike the Tampa show, Radiohead’s Bonnaroo setlist included more of their older hits, including “Kid A,” “The Gloaming” and “Paranoid Android.” Perhaps the largest cheer came when frontman Thom Yorke dedicated the song “Supercollider” to Jack White, hinting at a possible future collaboration.
Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Saturday
Most of the festival murmurs revolved around Radiohead and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Saturday’s headliner lived up to the hype, serving up a jam band performance that acted as the raucous ying to Radiohead’s harmonious yang.
When the band wasn’t blasting hits such as “Dani California,” “Scar Tissue” and “By the Way,” they were boasting their instrumental prowess at blistering speeds. Bassist Flea wowed the crowd with his grinding bass solos, while Chad Smith and Josh Klinghoffer kept pace on drums and guitar. Even lead vocalist Anthony Keidas showed off impeccable upper body strength, walking back and forth across the stage on his hands for a few minutes.
Foster the People – Friday
As the sun set on Friday, Mark Foster and his indie-pop partners took the stage to perform their sole album. Though the 12-song set was one of the shorter performances of the weekend, the LA-based group moved the crowd with upbeat numbers like “Helena Beat,” “Waste” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls).” Equally as impressive as their music was Foster the People’s stage setup, which featured a giant glowing sun and a panoramic LCD screen displaying waves of colors. The set ended with their finger-snapping, whistle-along hipster anthem “Pumped Up Kicks,” the song that catapulted them into stardom.
The Roots – Saturday
Widely known as the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Roots showed why they are one of the most compelling acts in hip hop. Their set started with a tribute to the late Beastie Boys’ MCA, covering their hit “Paul Revere,” and many of their songs evolved into soulful jam sessions.
Not until halfway through the set did the seemingly fatigued crowd match the energy of the best band in hip hop. A soulful rendition of their hit “You Got Me” led to a string of classic covers, including “Sweet Child of Mine” and a melding of The Roots hit “The Next Movement” with Kool and the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie.”
Bon Iver – Sunday
As the festival was winding down, gray clouds began to form around the main stage, and a light rain provided a serenity for Grammy-winning folk band Bon Iver. The atmosphere went along perfectly with the band’s gentle harmonies and jazzy solos.
The band emphasized substance over style, with very few stage lights and special effects. Even their wardrobe suggested a laid-back temperament, with lead singer Justin Vernon donning a tank top and brown pants.
Just as impressive as the festival’s music lineup was its stable of performing comedians,which included Aziz Ansariof “Parks and Rec,” Judah Friedlander of “30 Rock” and Rhys Darby of “Flight of the Conchords.” Other less commercial, but just as talented joke tellers, such as Marc Maron and Steven Wright, rounded out the diverse comedy roster.
Maron catered to the crowd with a personal anecdote about “tripping on ‘shrooms” at a Grateful Dead concert.
The laughter it induced proved the audience could easily relate to his hallucinogenic horrors.
Memorable moments worth mentioning
No Bonnaroo would be complete without a few surprises and unexpected guests. On Sunday, Kenny Rogers joined Phish on the main stage to close out the festival. The annual Superjam, which features band members from multiple groups, included a vocal performance by R&B singer D’Angelo, who hadn’t performed in the U.S. in more than 10 years.
Bonnaroo also got a dose of old school sound with performances by the Beach Boys and Alice Cooper. Cooper even surprised his audience by covering Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
Polarizing yesterday’s rock ‘n’ roll was the new age electronic sounds of Skrillex, whose Saturday night set was by far the loudest of the festival and included a glowing spaceship on the stage.