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50 Best Things We Saw at Bonnaroo 2015

From killer jams to a deadly ep of ‘Game of Thrones,’ a complete rundown of the fest’s essential moments

Best of Bonnaroo

Best of Bonnaroo

Kyle Dean Reinford; Theonepointeight

The 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival featured hundreds of artists, dozens of food trucks and more glitter than we can quantify. And thanks to top-notch headlining performances from Billy Joel, Kendrick Lamar and Mumford & Sons, it was another unforgettable, never-ending bonanza. We trekked from the Other Tent to the What Stage to the Cinema Tent to uncover all of 2015's can't-miss moments. From to the much-ballyhooed all-star SuperJam to a secret venue in the campgrounds, from a mega Game of Thrones viewing party to one incredible donut, these are the 50 best things we saw, heard or tasted at Bonnaroo 2015.

Tanya Tagaq

Kyle Dean Reinford

Best Scream (Avant Garde Division): Tanya Tagaq

"I'm from about 300 miles from magnetic North," explained Inuit throatpunk Tanya Tagaq. "So this Eskimo is really hot." She promised her band would take it slow so she didn't lose consciousness in the heat and then dove into an hour of the weekend's most mesmerizing improv. Since Tagaq usually plays "new music" festivals and smaller clubs, it was unknown how she would play in a festival tent that would soon be crowd surfing to Against Me! The audience responded swiftly and loudly, cheering during the kinetic peaks of performance — her wolf howl or her Diamanda Galás-esque high-pitched yowls — with a wash of cheers. Tagaq didn't pander to the crowd nor provoke them, instead seeming like she was in her own world, writhing around with her eyes rolled back or looking like she might wander off of the edge of the stage.



Best Place for a Mini Burning Man: The Kalliope Stage

With Mumford & Sons playing mostly unopposed on Saturday night, where do the kids who can't sit still get their kicks? While tens of thousands were ho-heying, a devoted group was letting their freak flags fly at the Kalliope Stage. As a DJ spun the most cartoonish trap possible, this is where you could find painted breasts, a tuxedo, smoke machines and a light-up Afro wig. Part Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, part Nineties rave, all glowing everything.


MØ @ Other Tent


Best Newcomer: MØ

The Danish singer born Karen Marie Ørsted lit up the Other Tent Sunday with her unique brand of icy, textured synth-pop and engaging, energetic stage presence. In addition to cuts off her Diplo-produced No Mythologies to Follow (including the set highlight "Don't Wanna Dance"), MØ also whipped up a minimalist cover of the Spice Girls ballad "Say You'll Be There" plus her Major Lazer feature "Lean On."


Woods @ This Tent


Best Jam Band: Woods

The indie folk crew Woods may seem like an unlikely choice for this title at the jam-founded Roo — three of their last four studio albums barely crossed the 30-minute mark — but the band lured in the Phish-loving faithful with numerous cuts that stretched well past 10 minutes. (Singer Jeremy Earl can even pass for an Anastasio.) Woods' spirited improvs ranged from ambient to folk freak-outs ("Is It Honest") to guitar ragers ("With Light and With Love"). The group also sprinkled in a handful of shorter, softer acoustic numbers — as all jam bands are wont to do — but it was their climatic, swirling rockers that were as fiery as the Saturday temperature.

Robert Kelly/Cameron Esposito

Kyle Dean Reinford; Theonepointeight

Best Biology Lesson: Cameron Esposito and Robert Kelly

These two comedians couldn't have had more disparate slots — viral sensation Esposito leading a set of alterna-geeks like Kurt Braunholer, Kelly closing a set of shocky podcast bros like Ari Shaffir. However both delved hilariously deep into our disgusting bodies. Esposito had some frank and hilarious talk about menstruation that she posited as a way to gross out dudes — though when she suggested a Bonnaroo port-a-potty just for diva cup disposal you could hear some women audibly gasping. Kelly focused on material that seemed a little, well, adult for an audience of audience ready to freak out to Deadmau5 — childbirth, going to the urologist — but he talked directly to an older gentleman near the front row and the audience grabbed some vicarious giggles.

The Very Best

Kyle Dean Reinford

Best Pronunciation of the Word “Bonnaroo”: The Very Best

As if under hypnosis from their own floaty Malawian pop melodies, the Very Best couldn't help but sing it. Bonna-roo-oo-oo.

Mastro Spray-Tattoo

Kyle Dean Reinford

Best Way to Turn Yourself Into Living Art: Mastro

Festivalgoers lined up to become a human canvas for New York-based artist Mastro, who turned the appendages of countless attendees into eye-catching human graffiti. Providing an arm or leg for Mastro's colorful temporary tattoo sleeves was definitely one of the hottest trends of Bonnaroo 2015.

Moon Taxi

MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 12: Trevor Terndrup of Moon Taxi performs onstage during the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on June 12, 2015 in Manchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Josh Brasted/WireImage)

Josh Brasted/Getty

Best Fake-Out: Moon Taxi

Between Against Me!, Rustie, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, a notification from the app that a high-fiving world record attempt was going down, the lure of the food court and some general exhaustion and a little bit of laziness. . .you can forgive us for not checking out scruffy indie proggers Moon Taxi. However, yards away, they pulled us in regardless with the sounds of a hard-hitting, no-punches-pulled cover of Rage Against the Machine's "Wake Up." Wait, is that Zack de la Rocha screaming? Does that mean he's in town to team with Run the Jewels? Once we got closer it was apparent that it was just keyboardist Wes Bailey doing very convincing vein-popping yells. Did we mention they added keyboard to "Wake Up"?