Fiercest Brass Section: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
The contemporary landscape for R&B means that live-band soul and funk groups are unlikely to get played on radio or appear on a major streaming service playlist. But festivals like Bonnaroo serve as a nurturing environment for these acts, where fans greet each horn section and James Brown-like scream with glee. Within 24 hours, Bonnaroo played host to Victory's singer-songwriter funk, Durand Jones and the Indications' lowrider soul, and the raucous New Orleans brass outfit fronted by Trombone Shorty. Shorty is an indefatigable frontman, alternating between vocals, tambourine, trombone and trumpet, and the sound of his band, Orleans Avenue, comes from the muscular wing of funk-rock, full of florid guitar solos and tightly choreographed dancing by the two saxophonists and bass player. Sometimes the horns served as a combustion agent – at one point, Trombone Shorty held a trumpet trill for well over a minute, fingers flying furiously as the crowd egged him on. But at other moments – especially during a screeching cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away" – the brass served as a calming force, an anchor that kept the band grounded. The Friday-afternoon This Tent crowd was especially receptive to Trombone Shorty's opening act, Workaholics' Adam DeVine, who provided a quick, puerile introduction. "Look at all you sweaty fucks!" DeVine said. "Normally they put me in an air-conditioned comedy tent. But they said, 'You're gonna be in a hot tent with a sweaty crotch.' I said, 'Where do I sign up?" E.L.