So you’ve enjoyed the first night of Bonnaroo and have survived the first night of camping. If you managed to wake up for day two, you realized it was 7am and you had to wake up because the sun was fully blasting through your tent and it was already 85 and humid forcing you start your day a bit earlier and more uncomfortable than you would’ve liked. Welcome to Bonnaroo. Day 2 seemed to be all about just great guitar rock, just the way we like it.
I’ve never been to England, or any part of the U.K. for that matter, but I do know one thing, they sure do put out great rock bands. Their most recent export, Royal Blood. The duo brought the noise early on, taking the Which Stage around 3:30sh and cranking up the decibels to set the raunchy and distorted tone for the day. Drummer Ben Thatcher was the cool and singer/bassist Mike Kerr was the crazy, unleashing his uniquely distorted and octave-driven bass that he plays like a guitar in synch with Ben’s thunderous drum fills.
The traditional four-piece now five-piece California rock band took the main What Stage to give fans some great guitar riffs and solos from singer/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith and new kid on the block Duane Betts. The set consisted of songs from across the catalog. Goldsmith, looking a bit more dapper than rocker in a tucked in blue patterned button down, was phenomenal as usual, letting the audience sing lyrics to their songs almost as often as he would.
Is there any band that fits the up-beat, quirky, guitar-based folk based pop-rock for college aged twenty somethings across multiple generations better than Guster? No way Jose! With a catalog of catchy rock tunes stretching back almost twenty years, Guster proved they’re still the band to throw a fun party, as their light-hearted set consisted of plenty of the earlier favorites including “Manifest Destiny,” “Satellite,” “Barrel Of A Gun” and an incredibly epic performance of their version of the power ballad in “Ruby Falls.” They of course played the more recent hits including “Simple Machine” from the new album Evermotion, as well as “Do You Love Me” from 2010’s Easy Wonderful. Fans of course got a huge kick and went nuts every time guitarist Adam Gardner pulled out the trumpet for some crafty solos throughout the set. According to singer Ryan Miller, they get booked to play Bonnaroo every eleven years, forcing himself to yell out in laughter, “See you guys in 2026!” as they closed out their set.
It was an early 7:30 set on the big What Stage for Alabama Shakes, but by the huge crowd you would’ve thought they were headlining the night with their raunchy, sleazy, bluesy guitar fueled rock. Brittany Howard was a force to be reckoned with in a violet dress matching perfectly with her robin’s egg blue Gibson SG, epitomizing rock and roll fashion in 2015. Opening the set with “Future People” and “Always Alright,” the sixteen song set reminded everyone in attendance why they’re one of the top acts at the festival and the next step in the line of bluesy rock greats.
Undoubted as one of the true superstars in hip-hop/rap, anyone who saw Kendrick’s 9:45 set at the big Which Stage could all agree on one thing, Kendrick killed it. Most of the previous crowd from Alabama Shakes had stay and more had joined leaving Tears For Fears and Ben Harper a little early to see one the rising rock star rapper. Kicking off the set with “Money Trees,” Kendrick marched across the enormous stage in all black getting the attendees to rap right along with him to songs like “Swimming Pools (Drink),” “Poetic Justice,” “m.A.A.d City” and a great cover of Tupac’s “Hail Mary.”
Earth Wind & Fire
Leave it up to the legendary Earth Wind & Fire to really bring the party up a notch on Friday with their 40+ years of songs mixing jazz, funk, soul, R&B, disco, and psychedelic pop to Manchester, TN for an epic dance party. Taking place at the same time as Run The Jewels and Deadmau5, the best party to be at was at the Which Stage for the legendary band, who got everyone moving and grooving to “Boogie Wonderland,” “Fantasy,” “September” and a funk filled Beatles cover with “Got To Get You Into My Life.” The best part of the set was them bringing out Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper for a sick freestyle session. Leave it up to the real veterans to show Bonnaroo how it’s done.
Article: Tom Shackleford
Photos: Merissa Blitz