Every year we take the hour-plus journey to Manchester, Tennessee for Bonnaroo, where we are inundated with free booze, incredible music and you-had-to-be-there moments. Here are ten of our favorite highlights from this year’s festival.
Watching Paul McCartney’s band members enjoy Wilco’s jam-heavy set from the wings. I mean really enjoying it, by the ecstatic look on their faces. As if Jeff Tweedy was the new Paul McCartney.
The Lumineers’ surprise performance of “Ho Hey” in the Comedy Tent, which capped off Ed Helms’ masterful Whiskey Sour Radio Hour (billed as “Prairie Home Companion on crystal meth and moonshine”). When the Denver band stormed the stage, the whole crowd erupted with joy, left their seats and swarmed to the front to sing along.
In fact, anything involving Ed Helms. The Office star proved himself to be a soulful musician, a purveyor of great taste (as evidenced by the musicians he pulled in for his Bluegrass Super Jam) and a very funny guy. On Saturday, Helms and friends played a special acoustic show in the hospitality area across from R. Kelly’s stage, making for the strangest battle of the bands ever.
We’re Not Worthy
Standing in a slow-moving line for BBQ behind an impatient David Cross, the Mr. Show and Arrested Development comedy legend. We just about “blue” ourselves.
Funky Good Time
This year’s Super Jam — the Rock N’ Soul Dance Party — was bloated with greatness, from the already stacked supporting cast (Jim James, John Oates, members of Sly and The Family Stone) to the guest stars — Brittany Howard, Billy Idol and R. Kelly. The material ranged from Sam Cooke to Sly, and the grooves stretched into the early morning hours. And a special shoutout to Friday night’s hip-hop Super Jam – nobody can bellow “Bonnaroo” quite like RZA.
– Evan Schlansky
The National cemented their status as one of America’s best rock bands with their Sunday performance on the main stage. When Matt Berninger came into the crowd to sing “Mr. November,” well, we officially lost it. We used to be carried in the arms of cheerleaders, too, sir.
Sound and Fury
It felt like a seminal performance for the former Drive-By Trucker, who played to what seemed like 10,000 folks early Friday afternoon on the Which Stage. Nobody writes about Dixie better than this guy. And when Isbell sang the line a “southern man tells better jokes” from the song “Outfit,” every Southern boy in the audience pumped his fist in unison.
And The Days Go By
As a primer for the David Byrne and St. Vincent show the following day, Cincinnati rockers Walk The Moon performed an entire set of Talking Heads covers under the moniker Kaleidoscope Space Tribe. And so it happened that we found ourselves in a beautiful field, having beautiful times, listening to some beautiful tunes. And we did indeed ask ourselves: “How did we get here?”
Fair Is Foul, Foul Is Fair
Looking like the witches from Macbeth (in a good way), the L.A. sister act Haim pepped up an afternoon crowd with a spirited blast of New Wave-style rock. When one of the girls told the crowd that she “liked being inside of us,” we blushed.
Whole Lotta Shakin’
We camped next to a New Orleans Bounce dancer and, being good neighbors, showed up for her booty-shaking performance on a makeshift stage in the early morning hours on Sunday. We realize that we still dance like hippies, and have a long way to go with our own personal “bounce” moves.
– Caine O’Rear
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