Things took a tragic turn on Saturday at Bonnaroo, as it was announced that a 47-year-old man (who has not been identified) collapsed and died at the festival. The man reportedly had a pre-existing heart condition.
But as they say, the show must go on, despite that sad news, and there was plenty of excellent music on Saturday. Check out the best of what we caught below, and take a peek at Brooke Bennett’s photos from the day in the gallery above.
PHOX is a band that feels like it was designed specifically for sitting in the sun on days like Saturday, and you could hardly take a few steps through the crowd without hearing someone talking about the darling stage presence and clear vocals of frontwoman Monica Martin. Songs like “1936” and “Noble Heart” made for a light, glittering way to ease into another hot day on the farm, while the reception for “Slow Motion” revealed just how far the band’s lead single has taken them with new fans. —Dacey Orr
A good-sized crowd turned out for Bahamas’ set at That Tent, and having a screen off to the side (a new feature the tents this year at Bonnaroo) allowed people to spread out far beyond the shady retreat of the tent and relax to to tunes of Afie Jurvanen. Lengthy instrumental segments, vocals from singer Felicity Williams and recognizable laid-back numbers like “All The Time” and “Lost In The Light” provided a calm ambiance while still showing off Jurvanen’s musicianship. —Dacey Orr
The War on Drugs
There’s something about frontman Adam Granduciel’s voice that just lends itself perfectly to a summer festival. And The War on Drugs’ dreamy, soaring soundscape only added to the perfect Bonnaroo vibes at the Which Stage on Saturday evening. These guys are poised for even bigger and better things, as it was announced this weekend that they’ve left Secretly Canadian and signed with Atlantic Records for a two-album deal. —Bonnie Stiernberg
Simpson’s set wasn’t too crowded, save for what looked to be shoulder-to-shoulder group in the side-stage area. The show was all the better for it, though, because the medium-sized crowd had double the adoration for the music than any other fans I saw. “We’re dancing to this at our wedding next month,” the guy beside me said during “The Promise,” and his wide-eyed devotion was characteristic of pretty much every person who showed up. Songs like “Long White Line” and “Living the Dream” are best enjoyed loud and sung-along to, so the set was exactly the high point we expected. Don’t miss this guy on the festival circuit this year. —Dacey Orr
My Morning Jacket
Having seen My Morning Jacket just a month ago at Hangout Fest, I wasn’t planning on getting as sucked in to their set as I did last night. It was pretty similar to their Hangout set, but there’s just something about Jim James’ live energy that makes it impossible to be bored at a My Morning Jacket show, particularly on songs like “Victory Dance,” “I’m Amazed,” “Evil Urges,” “Off the Record,” “Believe (Nobody Knows)” and “Holdin On To Black Metal”
Mumford & Sons
After a cancellation two years ago with a last-minute fill-in from Jack Johnson, Mumford & Sons were all set to make up for lost time. Compared to Kendrick Lamar’s set on the previous night, the crowd was modest, but that may speak less about the enthusiasm for the band’s comeback and more to the strength of the rest of the night’s lineup. Either way, the front half of the What Stage was packed out and the band delivered, railing through numbers like “Ditmas” and “Snake Eyes” from their latest release, Wilder Mind. They brought out Ed Helms for banjo on “Awake My Soul,” one of several old favorites along with “Roll Away Your Stone” and “I Will Wait” that elicited screams from the audience, and rounded out the evening with several other special guests as Hozier, Dawes, My Morning Jacket and musician/photographer Danny Clinch came out for an all-inclusive cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends.” Love them or hate them, Mumford & Sons is a band that knows how to own an audience. —Dacey Orr
D’Angelo & The Vanguard
I am not at all mad that D’Angelo hit the stage at the This Tent almost 40 minutes late. I’m not mad that there was some minor sound bleed from Bassnectar’s nearby set. I’m not even mad he didn’t play “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” (unless he came back out for a second encore after we left after 3 a.m.—in which case, yes, I’m mad I missed that). That’s because from the moment the singer and his band The Vanguard appeared to their final note, they were in phenomenal form. You’d think a long delay would mean a shorter set time, but D’Angelo seemed like he was willing to stay onstage forever, making time for plenty of Black Messiah favorites like “Sugah Daddy,” “Ain’t That Easy,” “Back to the Future, Part II” and dedicated “1000 Deaths” to Freddie Gray, Michael Brown and “the fallen.” The whole time, he commanded his band with the energy and true funk of James Brown. So far, this one’s the Bonnaroo set to beat this weekend. —Bonnie Stiernberg