The Top Ten Moments At Bonnaroo

Videos by American Songwriter

Look Out, Mama

The Civil Wars’ Sunday set was flawless, and Joy Williams had incredible stage presence for a woman nine months pregnant. “How about more than one song? Is that still OK?” asked John Paul White, returning to the stage with Joy Williams while the crowd chanted, “One more song! One more song!”

Punch Brothers Perform “Sexx Laws,” Other Covers

Making the exodus towards the Which Stage on Saturday afternoon, we began to make out the Punch Brothers’ signature blend of lightning fast, virtuoso playing and Prairie Home Companion-ready, ear-pleasing mellowness. What a delight to discover that the song they were playing was in fact the banjo-fied “Sexx Laws” from Beck’s robo-funk album Midnite Vultures. The Punch Brothers also tackled Radiohead’s “Kid A” and more.

Think Locally, Act Globally

Bonnaroo is a great place to get cultured. On Saturday, The Other Tent was turned into a Global village, hosting music from exotic lands. After getting temporarily lost and fighting the sunburn of early afternoon Bonnaroo, we made it to the cool oasis of the Other Tent, where a gentle breeze was blowing, and Debo Band was rocking African music with a Western twist. The hyper-kinetic music from this 11-piece Ethiopian-American act was a breath of fresh air, literally.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Fail To Ignite Crowd

Witnessing several Chinese lanterns come dangerously close to setting the crowd on fire during the Red Hot Chili Peppers (a throw back to Woodstock ’99, when several fires broke out during the Peppers’ performance.) One of the laterns struggled to become airborne and started sinking toward the audience, its flame threatening to set someone’s hair ablaze. One of the audience members wound up catching the thing horizontally, and someone else whipped out a spray bottle and doused it with water, extinguishing the flame within seconds. Everyone cheered, high fives were exchanged, and the Chili Peppers played on, as funky as ever.

Disco Fever

People swarming the stage during Santigold’s set, with the understanding that they would dance, that they wouldn’t take pictures, and that they wouldn’t hump any of her dancers (“or else they’ll punch you in the face.”) Controlled chaos at work.

We Are Young

Fun.’s performance was a blast… we guess we should have predicted that. The little band with the monster single (“We Are Young”) had never played Bonnaroo before, and delivered an outrageously energetic performance to a crowd that was bursting out of That Tent. One of the best closing shows of Bonnaroo.

Read our reviews of Radiohead, Avett Brothers, Ben Folds Five, The Beach Boys, Alabama Shakes and Phish, and catch up on our blog from the field. View our photo galleries here. Watch our video interviews with Dawes, Flogging Molly, The Black Lips, ALO, Wild Cub, L.P.The Kooks and White Denim.

Additional reporting by Andrew Leahey, Chris Rutledge and Kate Cauthen.


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Song Premiere: The Flatlanders, “Shadow Of The Moon”