Photos by Mark C. Austin
Day three of the 11th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival began with afternoon performances by the likes of The Devil Makes Three, Blind Pilot and Das Racist. As the day moved on, festival patrons overcame interesting scheduling decisions, welcomed old ‘Roo friends back to the stages and were taken back in time to relive some of their favorite rock anthems.
Moments after Bonnaroo released this year’s schedule, many questioned how they would be able to get the most out of electronic act SBTRKT’s heavy beats and light show at 5 p.m. (and why a Van Halen tribute band was given a 2 a.m. timeslot instead of the British DJ). Shaded from the sun under the This Tent, SBTRKT’s light show didn’t lose all of its magic and the crowd didn’t seem to have any more complaints as they bobbed up and down throughout the hypnotic set.
Last year Childish Gambino, Community star Donald Glover’s rapping alter ego, took command of the This Stage and vocalized his awe of how quickly his life had changed over the past few years. After a year of new releases and Twitter rants, the rapper’s heightened status earned him a place on the festival’s second biggest stage. While the set started off a bit rocky (the Which Stage has been plagued with major technical problems for the past few years) Gambino reeled the crowd back in with his cover of Adele’s ”Rolling in the Deep” and a sing-along of his hit “Freaks and Geeks.”
Saturday night’s headlining act Red Hot Chili Peppers can be credited with finally making this year’s festival feel like a classic Bonnaroo. The band was met with a field filled of tens of thousands of fans singing along to hits like “Californication” and “Under the Bridge” so loud that it was difficult to hear frontman Anthony Kiedis singing them. While hearing some of the band’s greatest hits was enough to sate most fans, the real Bonnaroo magic came from bassist Flea’s sheer joy and enthusiasm for being at the festival. After recognizing performances by artists like Radiohead and The Roots, and thanking festivalgoers for supporting the growth of all kinds of music, it was obvious the iconic rocker was awed by his experience as he and his bandmates exited the stage to an impromptu firework show led by a group of fans.
Rumors about who would be joining ?uestlove for this year’s Superjam ran rampant through the farm throughout the day. For weeks festival promoters hinted that this year’s jam would be one of the most memorable. When the Roots drummer stepped out on stage and announced that D’Angelo would be making his first US appearance in over a decade, the crowd went wild. Filled with funky hits and classic rock covers, the two-hour set proved that it indeed will go down as one of the most memorable jams in festival history.
Following the Superjam, Skrillex closed out the night with an explosion of glowsticks and flashing neon lights as his dubstep beats filled the field surrounding the Which Stage. Playing some of his most dance-worthy tunes, the DJ took a moment to pay tribute to Beastie Boy MCA with a remix of the hit “Sabotage.”
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Andy Langer and Robert Ellis
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