Best Of Bonnaroo: Cat Power, Dwight Yoakam, Frank Turner


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Saturday afternoon, fans flocked to That Tent where they clapped, danced and jumped to British folk/punk singer-songwriter Frank Turner and his backing band, the Sleeping Souls. Turner, formerly a punk/folk singer from England, embarked on a solo acoustic career in 2005, when his post-hardcore band Million Dead called it quits. Touring behind his newest release Tape Deck Heart, Turner and the Sleeping Souls, which includes guitarist Ben Lloyd, bassist Tarrant Anderson, Matt Nasir on piano, and drummer Nigel Powell, led the Bonnaroo faithful in a high energy set full of rousing sweat-soaked tavern ballads with themes of making the most of life (“Glory Hallelujah,” “Long Live the Queen”), to Gene Simmons (“Wherefore Art Thou, Gene Simmons?”) to ending up making bad decisions while having too much time in the airport (“The Way I Tend To Be”). Turner has released five solo albums to date, first inspired by listening to Bruce Springsteen’s celebrated 1982 album Nebraska. Last year Turner and the Sleeping Souls played the pre-show for the opening ceremonies during the 2012 Olympics in London. In addition to performing with the Sleeping Souls, he formed a side project, Möngöl Hörde, in 2012. Turner, who first played Bonnaroo in 2010, led the cheering crowd in jumping jacks during “Recovery”. Turner told the amped-up festivalgoers he and his mates were just as appreciative, saying “We love being in the South of this country!”


Singer-songwriter Chan Marshall, better known by her stage name Cat Power, took the Which Stage to a relaxed and sun-drenched crowd seeking the Saturday afternoon shade at arguably the hottest day of Bonnaroo 2013. The Brooklyn-based Marshall and her backing band returned to Manchester this year touring in support of Sun, her 2012 release, and refreshed the festival faithful with a soulful performance of recent hits and new material.

Clad in black with mirrored aviators, Marshall took command of the Which Stage crowd with her melodic blend of indie rock, beginning with a slower, haunting rendition of her ballad “The Greatest” from the album of the same name, before venturing into tunes from Sun. Marshall greeted the crowd with “What’s up, America?” then launched into newer notables, highlighted with “Cherokee,” “Manhattan,” “3,6,9,” “Silent Machine” and “Nothing But Time.” As the day coasted into the evening hours, Marshall gave a bluesy version of “I Don’t Blame You” from her full length 2003 album You Are Free, and no one could blame the sunny festivalgoers for remaining to the end of Marshall’s set, before settling into the evening of Day 3 at Bonnaroo.


Dwight Yoakam brought the Bakersfield Sound to Bonnaroo for the first time, playing the evening spot at That Tent as the sun went down. The Los Angeles-based country music singer-songwriter (and actor/director/writer) kept his trademark cowboy hat pulled low, and with a backing band of rhinestone cowboys that outshone the stage lights, kept the music rocking high through his evening set. The crowd roared when the Pikesville, KY native took the stage at That Tent playing in support of his 2012 album 3 Pears, in addition to his hits and of course, a nod to his hero, Buck Owens. Yoakam’s cornerstone of urban cowboy country was on full display, blending in rock, pop Americana and soul, as he played hits from his catalog such as “Guitars, Cadillacs,” and packed his classic “Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose,” with the Buck Owens hits “Buckaroo” and “Act Naturally”, then thanking the That Tent crowd, where sandals danced with cowboy boots, for “flying with us tonight.” Yoakam challenged the crowd before continuing, exclaiming, “Let’s see how much redneck hippy you got in you”, as he cranked up such hits spanning from his 30 year career, such as “Honky Tonk Man”, “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere,” “Fast As You” and renditions of “Streets of Bakersfield,” his hit tune with Owens, and “Little Sister.” Yoakam has been enjoying Middle Tennessee lately; in addition to his rousing Bonnaroo performance, he sold out multiple shows at The Ryman earlier this year.


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