Sunshine and heat were once again batting down on the farm and starting around 8:45 PM lightning storms ran across the sky causing an evacuation of Bonnaroo and pushing everything back about an hour. Watching a sea of people walk under the arch at the same time is always a sight. When the doors were open many ran to the next stage as if it were opening of the day and everyone was back on track and safe for the remainder of the evening.
The media tent was treated to a wonderful three song acoustic set by The Record Company. Seeing them do their songs in front of such a small audience was an honor. This band is quickly on the rise and shouldn’t be missed. Starting the day off with some wonderful spacey Latin tinged psychedelia was Chicano Batman. Sharply dressed despite the heat, the foursome won over the crowd that gathered to see the men open up Which Stage. Anderson East was having almost a gospel party, switching from blues to rock to soul all in a matter of moments, throwing out great covers like “Knock on Wood” and “Stay with Me”, much to the delight of everyone under the cover of This Tent.
Margaret Glaspy came out on the Who Stage with a full band, which gave her songs a slightly bigger punch. She is a tremendous singer and guitar player and with her new album out now, she should be on your radar now. Natalie Prass brought humor and good vibes next and even held a sign from a fan representing Richmond, Virginia. Her beautiful voice was the perfect thing to hear on a hot warm sunny Saturday afternoon.
Bonnaroo is a place where if a rumor starts that something special is going to happen, you should listen to it and follow it where it goes. The Comedy Tent line for every entrance point was long and it took quite a while to get everyone inside, but there wasn’t a seat that wasn’t filled for Judd Apatow and friends’ show with an unannounced special guest. Judd started the show off saying how special this set was going to be compared to the later set with another unannounced guest and that those people were screwed. His set was hilarious and moved from self-deprecation to how mean twitter is to Bill Cosby. A raunchy set from him led way to Vanessa Bayer and a stream of her SNL characters and impressions.
After she left the stage Judd came back out and said it was time for the special guest. As he was saying this a guitar stand and seat were being set up on the stage. With a standing ovation, Eddie Vedder came out to play a song with Judd. Before they started, Judd said he had this great idea to do something special for Bonnaroo and he had found many of the late Gary Shandling’s diaries and notebooks after he passed. He sent them to Eddie and had him make a song out of what was inside. The song was beautiful and between the verses Eddie sang, Judd told some of Gary’s jokes. It was a beautiful moment and nice to see one of the farm’s rumors come true. After that Pete Davidson had the unfortunate task of following and did his best to make the crowd laugh, but even he knew it was tall order and joked about it quite a bit.
Leaving the laughter behind, it was back to the music with Steve Gunn blasting some psychedelia before Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats brought the soul to Bonnaroo. The crowd swelled to well past the confines of This Tent almost reaching the fountain. Moving towards my camp site I saw the ending of what seemed like a rousing set by Oh Wonder as dark clouds rolled in. Shortly after they finished lightning storms caused an evacuation of the entire concert field. Everything remained calm though as thousands of people had to go back to their cars. After an hour plus delay, everything was opened back up and no music would be missed.
The Claypool Lennon Delirium was as wild as advertised. Les Claypool is about as Bonnaroo as you can get and he put on another interesting show and the music that he and Sean Lennon are putting out now is about as out there as you can get. The two have a great connection on stage and joked between songs and even threw in some covers of Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and Primus alongside their own material. Following them was the main attraction of Pearl Jam on the What Stage. It was quite the greatest hits setlist, but that was expected for a festival set. Unfortunately the set didn’t reach the wild quality of the last time they were on the farm, but it was still a great time and the band were on fire. The best moment came when Eddie brought his daughters out for the crowd to sing happy birthday to his eldest one. It was a beautiful moment and one to remember.
A big highlight most years is the Bonnaroo SuperJam. Kamasi Washington led the way in the tribute to Tennessee and the music was spot on throughout the set. Songs from such esteemed artists from the state included Johnny Cash, BB King, Issac Hayes, Aretha Franklin, and finally Justin Timberlake. Tiffany Lamson of Givers did Aretha’s “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You” justice, while Chicano Batman did their best Issac Hayes impression. Nathaniel Rateliff came on for a strong “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” and Miguel sang “SexyBack” and the whole thing closed with a “Party in the USA” ensemble. It wasn’t the best SuperJam, but it wasn’t the worst in the festival’s history.
Article: Bryan Lasky