The tents are down, the layers of grime and caked-on sunblock have been washed off, and the 15th edition of Bonnaroo is officially in the books. Even in a year when attendance is down significantly, there’s a feeling of camaraderie amongst attendees here that you rarely find anywhere else—it’s why we brave the heat and the elements every year and keep coming back, to see music we love with people who feel just as passionate as we do. Here’s to the next 15 years.
Check out the gallery to see photos from day 4 of Bonnaroo, and read about the day’s highlights below.
Yesterday everyone at Bonnaroo woke up to the horrific news of the Orlando shooting. We spent the morning feeling sad, outraged, disgusted, and it was difficult to even think about music, but when I finally glanced at the schedule on Sunday to figure out my plans, I was relieved to see Charles Bradley on it. A set from the Screaming Eagle of Soul was exactly what we needed, to—in light of such despicable acts of hatred—watch a performer who radiates love in such an infectious way. He didn’t disappoint; his songs about loss and injustice (like “The World Is Going Up in Flames” and his moving cover of Black Sabbath’s “Changes”) provided catharsis, and his more upbeat tracks like “You Put the Flame on It” resulted in much-needed smiles. But most moving—as always—with Charles Bradley is the love he shows to his fans, wrapping up each set by going into the crowd and doling out hugs. To see a man who has endured so much tragedy in his life use his talents to spread love and positivity is exactly what was needed on Sunday afternoon.
It was odd to see Maren Morris playing the tiny Who stage on Sunday after she played a much larger stage at the CMA Fest on Thursday, especially considering the singer’s catchy “My Church” single has already gone gold, but for those ‘Roo attendees not yet in the know about country’s newest star, her set provided a strong introduction. She’ll be back, no doubt—and on the big stage next time.
Father John Misty
It’s no secret Father John Misty is one of our favorite live performers, and although the day’s strong lineup made it a tougher choice thanks to overlap with Jason Isbell’s set and a surprise Chance the Rapper listening party at the Silent Disco (which turned out to be a bust after security began kicking out fans who had showed up early for not having headphones), there’s no way we were going to miss him at Bonnaroo. As with any FJM performance, it was as much about his incredible stage presence as it was about the songs themselves (that’s not to say they’re not also fantastic—they are). When a naked inflatable man made its way into his eyeline in the crowd during “Bored in the USA,” he stopped and noted that “a naked man being passed from person to person is sort of a perfect visual for this song,” an observation as funny as it is accurate.
The Bluegrass Situation Superjam
Ed Helms’ annual bluegrass superjam has become one of the festival’s yearly highlights, and though this year’s kicked off on a somber note (with Helms paying tribute to the victims of the Orlando tragedy), it soon turned into a joyful party featuring Sara and Sean Watkins, Sam Bush, Lee Ann Womack, Amanda Shires, Secret Sisters, Langhorne Slim and more, covering everything from classic Bill Monroe tunes to the likes of John Prine, Warren Zevon and Merle Haggard. For my money, the bluegrass superjam has become just as much of a can’t-miss Bonnaroo tradition as the original superjam, and I can’t wait to see who turns up next year.