After two nights of partying, lack of sleep from camping, and sun burns beginning to set in, the third day of Bonnaroo meant that that the festival was officially off and running.
The very tall, very lean Hozier took the stage middle afternoon. With his hair pulled back and his Ray-Bans on he looked more like a Bushwick coffee shop regular than someone who would command the audience from the big What Stage at Bonnaroo. Working with his signature indie-soul sound his set was basically running down the list of songs off his self-titled debut 2014 album, which isn’t a bad thing, trust me. The highlights included the powerful “Jackie and Wilson” and a clever cover of Ariana Grande’s “Problem.”
Gary Clark Jr.
When we last left our hero, he was slingin’ the blues under the city lights at Central Park SummerStage. While we were pretty far away from the bright lights of NYC, that didn’t stop Gary from opening up his killer Austin-style bluesy rock set with “Bright Lights” before going into the epic “When My Train Pulls In.” Mix some traditional blues tunes with a few new originals, and you have yourself one hell of a set.
My Morning Jacket
Arguably the best set of the entire festival. My Morning Jacket is no stranger to Bonnaroo or the festival scene in general. The garage rock jam band absolutely brought the noise and pulled no punches during their 19-song set on the big What Stage. Stuck right in between Gary Clark Jr. and Childish Gambino, most of the festival-goers were drawn like bugs to a light bulb to get their Saturday night groove on to some of the bands best songs across their catalog including “Believe (Nobody Knows),” “Victory Dance,” “Wordless Chorus,” “Compound Fracture,” “Good Intentions,” and “One Big Holiday.” Jim James led the band and the crowd through two hours of guitar jam heaven.
Few acts have been a bigger commodity since their emergence onto the music scene than Childish Gambino. The former actor turned rapper hit the festival circuit hard last year and has carried his work ethic into the 2015 circuit as well. Bouncing around stage like a man possessed, CG’s unique style and attitude has helped him stand out and be taken seriously in this industry. Not to mention he’s incredible energy and charisma that seems to come so naturally. Not bad for a comedian.
Aside from Billy Joel, Slayer may have been the second biggest act at the festival with the strongest global following. The legendary thrash metal band helped pioneer the hard rock and metal music scene into what it is today. So it’s really no surprise they were on site at one of the biggest music festivals on the planet to help raise some hell. Their 70-minute set saw Gary Holt sporting an awesome “Kill The Kardashains” shirt and ripping through metal classics “War Ensemble,” “Raining Blood” and “Black Magic.”
Mumford & Sons
Headlining Saturday night at Bonnaroo is no small feat. Marcus Mumford and his Sons (not literally, although that would be amusing) had one of the better sets of the weekend and proved this doubter wrong when it can to the band’s energy and showmanship, which was at the top of their game. Powering their folk and bluegrass rock sound through twenty songs, the band pulled some of the favorites out early into the set including “Snake Eyes” and “I Will Wait.” Although I’ve been critical of them pulling off the transition to electric guitars, their live show saw no flaws and saw the band put on a great rock show, whether it was via acoustic or electric guitars.
Of course no bluegrass show at Bonnaroo is complete without Ed Helms making an appearance to sit in on banjo on “Awake My Soul.” The middle of their set included “Believe,” “Tompkins Square Park” and “The Cave” keeping fans awake and active as the fatigue from the long weekend was beginning to take hold on many, including myself. As the band closed out the set with “The Wolf,” their five-song encore included “Hot Gates,” “Roll Away Your Stone,” “Little Lion Man” and their own super jam cover of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” with members of Dawes, War On Drugs, Hozier, Jim James, and Ed Fucking Helms. Not a bad way to close out your Saturday.
Being known for the late night super jam sessions, this year’s Bonnaroo was no exception. As most super jams start off, Jon Hamm (yes, seriously) and Zach Galifianakis came out to sing “We Are The World” (yes, seriously) before Chance The Rapper, DMC, Pretty Lights, Reggie Watts, Rob Trujillo of Metallica, and more came out for some epic 80s covers including “Juicy” by the late Notorious B.I.G, Bruce’s “Dancing In The Dark,” “Enter Sandman,” “Crazy Train,” “Roxanne,” “Sexual Healing,” “Eye Of The Tiger,” “Walk This Way” and more amazing 80s jams. Needless to say it was pretty fucking awesome.
Article: Tom Shackleford
Photos: Merissa Blitz