Father John Misty
Father John Misty delivered a rousing Sunday evening set at Bonnaroo. The singer — whose actual name is Josh Tillman — strode onto the Which Stage looking a bit like Jim Morrison, wearing an all black outfit and aviator sunglasses. He gave the applauding crowd a sarcastic “aww, shucks” look, before digging into “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” to start his set.
Tillman’s setlist was split evenly between his two albums, Fear Fun and 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear. Songs like “I love You, Honeybear” and “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” were two of the set’s highlights, both tracks garnering maximum participation from the large crowd. The quiet beginning to the Honey Bear track “Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddam Thirsty Crow” showcased Tillman’s impressive vocals, while the latter half of the song saw the singer throwing off his guitar and belting big notes.
However, songs are only part of a Father John Misty show. Tillman is known for his hilarious and unpredictable stage presence. The singer first addressed the crowd by commenting on the giant question mark balloon that is located near Bonnaroo’s Which Stage.
“This giant question mark sign does not do much to contribute to the existential quandary that is getting in front of thousands of college students on mushrooms and talking about your feelings,” he said to a chuckling crowd.
Tillman later paused in the middle of the song “Bored in the U.S.A.” to address a naked blow-up doll that was being bopped around the crowd like a beach ball. “There could not be a more apt visual for this song,” he said with a straight face.
As the hour-long set came to an unwanted close, Tillman and his band broke out a rocking rendition of “The Ideal Husband,” complete with shredding guitars and Tillman running across the stage. Once he had sung the song’s final note, Tillman threw his microphone stand in the air and let it crash against the stage, then bid the audience adieu.
Sun Club fully embraced the spontaneity, oddity and musicianship of Bonnaroo when they took the stage early on Sunday afternoon. The five members of the Baltimore garage-rock band are the embodiment of DIY, bulldozing through a 35-minute set full of eclectic riffs, intense percussion and a slew of electronic voice changers.
The afternoon began with the group goofily marching onstage in a single-file line. They quickly turned to their instruments, filling the Who Stage with driving guitar chords, bursts of synthesizers and distorted screams.
While the set’s introduction may have appeared a bit disorganized, the group quickly revealed their musical chops, delivering a set of chaotic, but tight rock and roll. They found their groove early with “Carnival Dough,” a track off of the band’s recent debut album, The Dongo Durango.
The voice-altering microphones also caused the stage banter to be distorted, which both the band and crowd found amusing. The group joked around with the audience, screaming “Thank you, Coachella” and randomly proclaiming “Cheese lives within us, around us, between us, inside us.”
As the crowd continued to grow throughout the afternoon, the lawn turned into a dance floor, with fans moving their feet to the experimental melodies. Beneath the distortion and overdrive of Sun Club’s songs are catchy indie melodies, and by the time the group played their final song, “Tropicoller Lease,” fans were singing the words back to the band.
When the set ended, Sun Club abruptly put their instruments down and walked off stage, only to return quickly with a parting gift.
“We spilled coffee on this shirt in the van,” guitarist Mikey Powers said. “So if anyone wants it?” He then tossed the shirt into the crowd, concluding the set as uniquely as it began.