The Brooklyn-based indie rock quintet The National returned to Bonnaroo and performed a towering set of tunes from their recent past and some new tracks from their latest studio album Trouble Will Find Me.
Serving as the Sunday afternoon headliner, The National consists of lead vocalist Matt Berninger, twins Aaron (guitar and keys) and Bryce (guitar) Dessner, and brothers Bryan (drums) and Scott (bass) Devendorf.
The band got their start in 1999, building up a following playing NYC clubs. They released their eponymous first album in 2001, and with their 2013 full length effort Trouble Will Find Me, have released six full studio albums to date. Through a soaring set that kept building all afternoon, the group worked from across their discography, highlighted by “Mistaken For Strangers”, “Afraid of Everyone”, “Conversation 16”, “Anyone’s Ghost”, and “Squalor Victoria”.
“Anybody here from Ohio?” Berninger later asked the crowd, stating “This one’s for everybody but you, of course,” before launching into “Bloodbuzz Ohio”. Berninger and his bandmates also introduced a few new tunes from Trouble Will Find Me, including “I Should Live In Salt”, “Don’t Swallow The Cap” and the St. Vincent-assisted “This Is The Last Time.”
Ed Helms and his Bluegrass Situation Superjam
Known mostly for his comedic work on the hit television show ‘The Office’ and blockbuster ‘Hangover’ films, Ed Helms showed the crowd he can pluck a banjo and pick a guitar, holding his own during the Bluegrass Situation Superjam which he hosted Sunday afternoon under That Tent.
Helms and his Lonesome Trio (Helms, Ian Riggs and Jacob Tilove) took the stage to a raucous crowd, eager to see the funnyman and bluegrass star in action with some of his friends. Helms admitted being at the festival felt like home, as he was born in Atlanta and his mother hailed from Nashville.
“Let’s do this thing!” Helms exclaimed to the packed house, before performing several original bluegrass tunes, which he and The Lonesome Trio began working on last year
In addition to numerous original songs, the SuperJam artists performed renditions of Doc Watson and Emmylou Harris, including performing Watson’s “Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar” and Harris’ “Boulder To Birmingham”.
Among the many bluegrass and folk luminaries joining Helms during the onstage shindig were Aoife O’Donovan (Crooked Still), bluegrass legends Del McCoury and Sam Bush, singer-songwriter John Fullbright, bluegrass group Black Prairie, country rocker Chris Stapleton, guitarist Bryan Sutton, singer-songwriter Dan Tyminski with banjoist Noam Pikelny and guitarist Chris Eldridge from The Punch Brothers.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
For the tens of thousands of ‘Bonnaroovians’ that braved the lightning and storms throughout the evening, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers rewarded the What Stage crowd as Sunday night’s headliner at Bonnaroo.
The iconic rocker has been the frontman for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers since 1976 and was a founding member of supergroup The Traveling Wilburys during the 1980s. In the early 70s, Petty was part of Southern rock group Mudcrutch, which eventually became Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
The Gainesville, FL native and his longtime backing band played the hits and reached into their catalog to bring out some deep cuts throughout their rain-soaked set. In addition to Petty, the Heartbreakers include longtime guitarist Mike Campbell, Scott Thurston on rhythm and lap steel guitar, bassist Ron Blair, Benmont Tench on keys, and drummer Steve Ferrone.
Starting off with a rendition of The Byrds’ “So You Want To Be A Rock N’ Roll Star”, Petty worked through 22 tunes, notably “Won’t Back Down”, “Last Dance With Mary Jane”, “Free Fallin’” (which sent thousands of glowsticks flying), a twangy cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil”, and “You’re So Bad”. Petty even took a moment to admire the fire lanterns taking flight from the crowd, while noting “It smells really good at Bonnaroo,” before jumping into “Learning To Fly” with the crowd singing the final chorus. From his days in the Traveling Wilburys, Petty performed “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” and from his 1985 album Southern Accents, Petty sang “Rebels”. Petty also worked from his recent past, playing “It’s Good To Be King” from his Wildflowers album as the moon broke through the cloudy night sky to shine onto the festivalgoers. Petty told the crowd “this one’s loud and filthy” before breaking into “I Should Have Known It”, complete with chunky riffs and keeping the crowd on their toes heading into the finale.
Petty continued rolling out the classics with “Refugee” then “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” one of the many tunes which guitarist Campbell took over with fiery solos that amazed even Petty. As an added bonus, Petty and his mates returned for a soaring three-song encore, all hits, of course: opening with a slow-burn version of “Don’t Come Around Here No More” with the crowd clapping to the beat, followed by “You Wreck Me” and
Closing out Bonnaroo 2013, Petty told the Bonnaroo faithful that he was “Gonna leave you where it all started” before delivering a performance of “American Girl” that perfectly capped off this year’s festival and started the countdown to next year’s Bonnaroo.
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