The third day of Bonnaroo was a sweltering one, but fans weren’t about to let the unrelenting sun keep them from checking out another day of music, movies and comedy. As we enter the home stretch of the festival and nurse our sunburns, check out our favorites from the day as well as photos by Mark C. Austin below.
There was a considerable turnout for Cults’ 12:30 p.m. set on the Which Stage, and although the set was short (the band started 15 minutes late and ended 10 minutes early), the crowd was in high spirits. Madeline Follin bounded onto the stage as the instrumentals built the crowd’s anticipation, ultimately bursting into an energetic rendition of “Abducted.” The band immediately charged into other fan favorites like “The Curse” and “You Know What I Mean,” serenading the crowd with Follin’s sweet vocals as fans sang along. Ending the set with twinkling tracks “Outside” and “Oh My God,” it was hard not to wish they’d stuck around for a few more numbers. —Dacey Orr
Although Bonnaroo’s had its fair share of sweaty, cathartic sets with the likes of Japandroids, The Vaccines, Killer Mike and Wu-Tang Clan, none of it could compare to what was going on over at The Other Tent when Death Grips, the hard-hitting hip-hop/electronic project of Stefon Burnett, took the stage. Although the set was missing the spastic drumming of member Zach Hill, Burnett and producer Andy Morin still kept the audience on their toes, blasting through an hour of straight music (no banter), bellowing at the audience through The Money Store and No Love Deep Web cuts. And as quickly and furiously as it all started, the band made its exit by flipping the DJ table and making a silent exit—no “Thank you,” no “You guys have been great”—and let the audience make chants for an encore that wouldn’t come.—Tyler Kane
Portugal. The Man
We were lucky enough to catch these guys twice in one day: first during a stripped down set at the media tent, and then later in the afternoon during their time on the Which Stage. John Gourley and friends played tracks from their newest album, the Danger Mouse-produced Evil Friends, as well as favorites from In the Mountain in the Cloud. Less than 24 hours after Paul McCartney performed the real deal, the band covered “Helter Skelter”—a bold move, perhaps, but they did it justice.—Bonnie Stiernberg
Cat Power’s still making the rounds on last year’s fantastic Sun, so it was totally fitting to see Chan Marshall and co. take the stage as the center of our universe started to set. She took the stage under a lulling guitar to glide into the set with “The Greatest,” kind of like a not-so-gentle reminder for audiences who hadn’t caught her live in a while. But it was truly Sun’s tracks that shone the brightest live, with her band tackling the electronic-heavy tracks with ease, giving each one suitable and unique arrangements. My standout (and favorite) of the night was the slow-burning “Cherokee,” which retained all the charm of Sun‘s glitched-out recording but made no mistake that we were listening to a band—not a backing track—play the thing.—Tyler Kane
On Björk’s Biophilia tour, she sold out two nights at New York’s Roseland Ballroom, an intimate enough venue that caps out at around 3,500 seats and was filled to the brim with hardcore fans. From where I stood on Saturday—toward the middle of the crowd, where casual Björk fans mingled with those trying to reserve a good spot for Jack Johnson—that 3,500 was spread out among probably 30,000. And that’s not to her discredit, but let’s face it, Bonnaroo at times can be a weird fit for the Icelandic vocalist.
Her band alone—made up of the calculated pulsing and churning of her electronics guys and a massive choir that perches behind her—was unlike anything the festival had offered so far (if you don’t count the Polyphonic Spree), and left a few sandal-clad, tank-topped dudes scratching their head through opener “Cosmogony.” But it made it all the more special for those who camped out for one of the most inventive vocalists of our time. The trippy, spiraling visuals that projected on the main screen, the majestic choir, the out-of-this-world instruments, Björk’s absolutely charming “Thank. Youuuu!”s to the crowd, these are all things I’m so glad I didn’t miss. And she rewarded listeners who stuck around, building to a crashing, bass-drowned climax with “Hyperballad.”—Tyler Kane
Bonnaroo always seems to have moments that catapult great bands into another level of notoriety, and it seems that this was that moment for Denver, Co.’s The Lumineers. Festival-goers packed in early, some presumably looking to fill the foot-stomping, suspender-wearing performance void left by Mumford and Sons, but the fans mouthing every lyric made it clear that the The Lumineers are much more than the Ho’s and the Hey’s. The band actually played “Ho Hey” relatively early in the set, later covering “Ain’t Nobody’s Problem” by fellow Denver artist Sawmill Joe, imploring that those who like the song “look him up,” and also played a fun cover of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” Despite the fact that they’ve only released one album, they owned the entire slot. As the show came to a close, the band came out and played into the crowd, making the expansive concert experience feel all the more intimate and seemingly solidifying their set as one of the most memorable of the weekend. —Dacey Orr
“The show will begin in R-minus nine minutes,” the PA announced before R. Kelly’s late-night set on the Which Stage, and it was apparent before it even began that the soul singer knows how to work a crowd (the “R-minus” announcement was also made four minutes out and 60 seconds out). When he emerged, Kelly came out swinging, opening with about 30 seconds of his megahit “Ignition (Remix).” The crowd seemed shocked he’d start his set with such a big track, and Kelly stopped and disappeared mid-song for a few minutes before coming back to finish the job. From there, he performed his whole set with no breaks in between tracks—even singing his commands to stagehands (“Can somebody bring me a towel ‘cause I’m sweatin’ like a motherfucker?”). He closed with “I Believe I Can Fly,” backed by a full choir. Paper doves were released into the crowd during the song’s climax, which made for a pretty unforgettable moment. Was it cheesy? Sure. Overwrought? Maybe. But it was also fantastic, and when Kelly turned up at the Superjam in the This Tent just minutes after his set ended to perform two Sam Cooke songs (see below), it felt like the icing on top of the sugary, sexy cake.—Bonnie Stiernberg
Superjam featuring Jim James, John Oates, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Other Guests
Bonnaroo is known for impromptu collaborations and epic improvisation, but the Superjam that commenced on Saturday night set the bar at a new level, with surprise appearances from Billy Idol and R. Kelly (both of whom had just finished packed sets of their own) and Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, who wasn’t even slated to play the festival at all.
Things kicked off in a big way with comedian Michael Winslow, dressed as Jimi Hendrix, leading off with “The Star Spangled Banner,” complete with a crowd-led “U-S-A” chant. Once Jim James and John Oates began to sing, what followed was a non-stop marathon of soulful hits, from “Love Train” to an unforgettable rendition of Bill Withers’ “Use Me.” From there, they played through John Lennon’s “Instant Karma (We All Shine On),” and topped it all (um, somehow) by introducing Howard for a passionate, chill-inducing rendition of Stax Records’ “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby.” Howard’s vocals were on point, and the chemistry between these artists (old and new) felt like the embodiment of what a music festival is supposed to be. Kelly sang Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” and “Bring It On Home To Me,” and Prince’s “1999” and The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” were thrown into the mix along with an impressive amount of Sly & The Family Stone tracks (“Everyday People,” “Higher,” “Thank You”). We were promised a “rock-and-soul dance party,” and that’s exactly what we got.—Dacey Orr and Bonnie Stiernberg