Best Of Bonnaroo: Jason Isbell, ALO, Wilco


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Friday at Bonnaroo is always exciting. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that the festival is just getting started, but there is a strange kind of optimism in the air.

For the past several years Bonnaroo has had noticeably nicer weather, and though it did get mighty hot at some points during the day, this has again been the case this year so far. As a result, some of the earlier shows were surprisingly well attended.

Thursday performer Jonny Fritz came back for round two, this time taking to the Sonic Stage for a set that was breezier and in better spirits than the one he played the night before. This is most likely due to the fact that Japandroids weren’t blaring over every quiet moment of the set.

And though the sound quality was improved, it lacked some of the energy of the previous night and showcased a different, more polished side of the band.

Next up to the Sonic Stage was ALO, who performed mostly older songs.

It was a breezy, fan favorite kind of set, not unlike their previous night’s show; the only real difference was that all of the focus was on ALO.

The band were more than up to the task, and kept fans dancing in the early afternoon sun.

The Sonic Stage is a great place for an intimate performance, a trait not shared by all of Bonnaroo’s stages.

Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell

Read our review of Southeastern

Jason Isbell took to the challenge of performing lyrically-based material on the Which Stage, known for its inconsistent sound quality.

Isbell and his band, the 400 Unit, ran through songs off his new album, “Southeastern,” as well as material stretching back to his days with the Drive-By Truckers.

One part dirty southern rock, one part lulling acoustic songs, fans got a dynamic performance from the Muscle Shoals band, who sweated out the afternoon heat wave.

Isbell closed the show with his new song “Super 8,” again showcasing his ever poignant lyrics.

The Other Tent was only half filled for Diiv, but one might guess that was a result of their set being postponed from Thursday.

Fans who showed up hoping for Earl Sweatshirt were instead treated to screeching guitar and strange song arrangements from the Brooklyn band.

Clad in oversized clothes, lead singer Cole Smith bounced around stage like a kid on Ritalin.

And though their crowd never got to big, it also didn’t decrease in size, proving Diiv knows how to keep an audience interested.

wilco 2013



The only band on the lineup capable of opening for Paul McCartney is Wilco, and thankfully that’s the spot they had.

The band played a career spanning set, rocking songs from as far back as their debut album, “A.M.,” while also playing new material from “The Whole Love,” and more.

If Wilco isn’t the perfect live band, who is? Stellar songwriting, intelligent arrangement, and Nels Cline. It was incredible: so basically, it was your average Wilco show.

But not to be outdone was Macca, who took to the stage a few minutes late, but made up for it by playing for three hours.

By the end of the show, Sir Paul had played 38 songs, most of them Beatles material.

In between songs McCartney charmed the crowd with jokes and stories about Jimi Hendrix.

The band also got it together for an awesome cover of “Midnight Special,” and closed it out in their third encore with “Golden Slumbers>Carry That Weight>The End“.

Paul McCartney is the most legendary performer alive and so it only make sense that this was one of the best headlining sets Bonnaroo has seen in all of its years as a festival.

Jack Johnson and Tom Petty have their work cut out for them.

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Best Of Bonnaroo: Jack Johnson, Rock n’ Soul Dance Party, Portugal. The Man