Best Rock Show by a Non-Rock Artist: Chris Stapleton
Sixty-five miles up the road in Nashville, Chris Stapleton is an overnight country superstar. In Manchester, however, he found himself performing in front of the 4 p.m. brunch crowd groggily making their way to the main stage. Noting the sleepy audience, Stapleton asked, "Is it the heat or the drugs?"
Despite the early hour, the gritty, lived-in songs of Stapleton showed why artists like he, Sturgill Simpson and fellow Bonnaroo performer Jason Isbell are making it cool for rock kids to dig contemporary country again. "Smells good out there," Stapleton said before "Might as Well Get Stoned." Stapleton might be the toast of Nashville, but he's a rocker at heart; even pedal steel guitarist Robby Turner's solos were closer to Eddie Hazel's euphoric wanderings than country legends like Buddy Emmons and Sneaky Pete Kleinow. In addition to performing tracks off Stapleton's acclaimed Traveler, the set also housed a bluesy rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" sung by Stapleton's wife Morgane, capped by a scorching guitar solo.