Day three of Bonnaroo is where the joints start to ache and it becomes harder to keep the energy up. Luckily the day was packed with stunning sets from almost all of the bands that played. The media is always treated to an acoustic performance Saturday morning and this year the sisters Joseph sang their hearts out for us. Their harmonies are just stunning, and later in the day they blew the crowd away at That Tent with their own set. Lukas Nelson and the Promise of Real were tremendous. Lukas is quite the gun-slinging guitar player and it was easy to see why Neil Young chose this band to tour with the last few years.
I was told to not miss Deap Vally by a few friends and they weren’t wrong. Their punk attitude and garage rock sound were exactly what was needed to continue the day. They will hopefully be getting more attention soon as they are a must-see band right now. Belly had the crowd at This Tent going nuts for his set of rap and jumped about the stage keeping them pumped up. Michael Kiwanuka followed him at the tent with a complete 180 degrees turn on the sound and dropped a funk filled rock set. While he was doing that Waker, based out of Nashville, were playing a wild mix of jazz and rock that pulled me to the Who Stage unplanned.
The Head and The Heart brought the sun down on the farm with their indie folk rock and it was the perfect match for the time of day. The crowd swelled all around the Which Stage to see them and the band loved every second of it. Warpaint had the unfortunate job of going up against Chance the Rapper, so their crowd wasn’t big, but the four women played their hearts out for one of the most impressive sets of the day. With a wild light show in tow, they played a mesmerizing set of rock and roll that put the audience in a complete trance.
Cage the Elephant did what they do best next and put on a pure unadulterated rock and roll show. They have been all over the place lately and there is a reason; they are absolute rock stars the moment they step on the stage. The crowd was easily the biggest of the day at Which Stage and while walking away from their set it never seemed to end. They are locked in such a good groove right now, I don’t think they could play a bad show if they wanted to. Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined the night and while they have a lot of hits that many people know, the set seemed uninspired. That is not to say it was a bad set of music, but it just seems that picking them was a safe bet for Bonnaroo. The crowd was into it, but they weren’t as passionate as they had been the previous night for U2. Bonnaroo really should have gone for it though and given Chance the Rapper the headliner spot. His crowd, I was told, was bigger than the Chili Peppers, and it would have let the “Mayor of Bonnaroo” reach his peak potential at the farm.
Always a good time at Bonnaroo is the Superjam! This year’s Soul Shakedown Superjam was anchored by Preservation Hall Jazz Band and it was one of the best I’ve seen. Theu played an entire set of funk based music and pulled no punches. Jon Baptiste sang a funky version of “Happy” to kick off the guest portion of the evening and was followed by Flint Eastwood singing a passionate “Get Up Off that That.” Boyfriend came up next with quite the stage show for a one-two punch of “Superfreak” and “You Can’t Touch This.” Rayland Baxter with Nick Bockrath of Cage the Elephant and a number of ladies to sing back up, absolutely nailed “Little Red Corvette.” George Porter Jr. led a funky take on “Hand Clapping Song” before the audience got to do a call and response with Lecrae for “Can I Kick It.” “Love and Happiness” followed soon after with Lukas Nelson and Margo Price sharing the vocals. Nicole Atkins strode out on stage with nothing but smiles as she belted out “Time is On My Side” before Joseph got the entire tent singing along to “Waterfalls.” Jason Huber of Cherub did an unexpectedly great version of “24K Magic” while NPR’s Tiny Desk winner Tank and the Bangas did a wonderful “Keep the Same Old Feeling.” With that Preservation Hall’s Ben Jaffe introduced Chance the Rapper to a huge pop from the crowd. He went right to a quick version of “Ain’t Nothing But a G Thang” before leading the entire Superjam into the closing song of the night “Hey Ya.” The way he commands a crowd is impressive as the moment he came on stage the energy in This Tent was turned to 11. This should really start a tradition of just letting Preservation Hall Jazz Band anchor the Superjams as it was pretty much perfect. Check back for coverage from the final day!
Article: Bryan Lasky