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Bonnaroo 2018: 31 Best Things We Saw

The coolest, wildest, hottest experiences at the weekend-long Tennessee bash, from the Killers’ headlining set to the candied bacon bites

Bonnaroo 2018: Best Things We Saw

Rob Loud

Since its first edition in 2002, the Bonnaroo Music Festival, which took place this past weekend in Manchester, Tennessee, has become one of America’s premier fests. Its musical purview has shifted quite a bit since its earliest days as a haven for jam bands; this year, the wide-open spaces at the Farm made room for the glittery beats of Kaskade, the acerbic pop of Khalid, the high-octane boasts of Future and the hybridized rock of Alt-J, as well as twin sets by folk-ambient guru Bon Iver that called back to the fest’s earliest days as a space for bands to stretch all the way out. The site’s camping-friendly space gave even more opportunity for a plurality of aesthetics, with glittered-up revelers, shorts-and-tees music heads and a robe-clad man who proclaimed himself to be “Bass Jesus” coming together under the Bonnaroovian Code – think Bill & Ted’s edict to “be excellent to one another,” spread out over four days of heat, mud, music and other types of funk.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Most Lit Main-Stage Set: Anderson Paak

For the second year in a row, a rising hip-hop star stole the show
from the headliners. In 2017, “Mayor of Bonnaroo” Chance the Rapper drew
a bigger, way-more-turnt-up crowd than stadium-rock kings U2.
This year, the festival’s fever pitch came during
rapper-drummer-multi-instrumentalist Anderson Paak’s What Stage set. Backed by
his hot-shit Free Nationals ensemble, he skipped and
stumble-danced from wing to wing
in exaggerated motions, and even worked in a drum solo or two. His carefree air rubbed off on the crowd, who’d left behind its collective inhibitions by the time Paak’s hour-long set
was over. A.G.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Proof That Pop Can Part Clouds and Unite Crowds: Bazzi

Sunday’s festivities got off to a somewhat slow start thanks to Saturday’s all-night partying and a morning downpour that left muddy patches all over The Farm. Michigan-born pop upstart Bazzi got things moving along with his This Tent-opening set, which he capped with a run through “Mine,” a blissed-out confession of love ­– “You so fuckin’ precious when you smile” – that doubles as one of current pop radio’s few opportunities for unabashed, synth-borne joy. The crowd ate it up, singing along with every delighted lyric as the plush keyboards rose up around their collective voices. By the time Bazzi enticed them into singing the chorus along with him one last time, you could have sworn the sun was shining a bit more brightly. M.J.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Crowd-Surfing Revivalist: St. Paul and the Broken Bones

St. Paul and the Broken Bones singer Paul Janeway continues to make a compelling case that he’s the best showman currently working in pop music. For their Sunday evening performance in That Tent, the Alabama-based retro-soul outfit tore through a set that placed smoldering ballads alongside taut, horn-drenched funk jams like “Call Me.” During the group’s show-stopping “Broken Bones & Pocket Change,” Janeway unrolled a long strip of carpet that he used to let the audience carry him (and the world’s longest microphone cord) across the tent, so he could perform on the precarious railing at the front-of-house booth. As the song reached its crescendo, the crowd carried him all the way back to the stage and he kept right on belting the gospel-influenced melody, never missing a single note. J.F.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Most Serene Set: Daniel Caesar

“It’s not raging music,” one Bonnaroovian explained to another as the pair walked into This Tent, which hosted Daniel Caesar’s set on Sunday. Caesar specializes in acoustic soul ballads, and it was easy to wonder how these fragile tracks would translate in an open-air environment punctuated periodically by the distant thump of pummeling dance music. But Caesar was ready for the challenge, bringing along a four-piece band – the rhythm section was forceful but adaptable – and a trio of superb backing vocalists. Those additional singers helped put these songs across, adding ice-cool “oohs” to “Hold Me Down” and layering a pretty introduction in three-part harmony before “Neu Roses.” But when it came time for Caesar to perform “Get You” – the Kali Uchis-assisted track that went top ten at mainstream R&B/hip-hop radio – he suddenly ditched his serene soul sound, opting instead for something more dynamic: Several minutes of thwacking, bass-popping funk that closed the set. E.L.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Country Music History Lesson: Grand Ole Opry

A bit of country-music history was made Sunday evening, as the Grand Ole Opry hosted its first Bonnaroo performance with a two-hour show held in That Tent and broadcast live on the internet and 650 WSM-AM, the Opry home on the radio. Future’s set on the What Stage drew most of the crowd away, but those who stayed at That Tent were a rowdy bunch, and they had the chance to witness a show that was both a history lesson and an overview of many differnt country music styles. Opry members Old Crow Medicine Show, whose quick-talking frontman Ketch Secor co-hosted the evening with announcer Bill Cody, were first in the lineup, which also included bluegrass great (and Bonnaroo veteran) Del McCoury, pop-country dynamo Maggie Rose, and country-rock band Lanco (pictured here). Other highlights included Country Music Hall of Fame Member Bobby Bare, whose classic “Marie Laveaux” got the crowd energized with its signature screams, and throwback crooner Joshua Hedley, paying tribute to Glen Campbell with “Wichita Lineman.” In true Opry fashion, the show closed with a cast sing-along of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” – giving newcomers and veterans alike a little comfort and closure to carry them into the next week. J.F.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best/Worst Scheduling Conflict: Japanese Breakfast vs. Alex Lahey

This year’s Bonnaroo lineup was light on jangly, hooky indie-pop, so scheduling C86 disciple Michelle Zauner and her dreamy outfit Japanese Breakfast and pop-punk-indebted Aussie export Alex Lahey in the same early-afternoon time slot on opposite ends of the park made about as much sense as thinking Eminem would “radiate positivity” as a headliner. Listeners at both ends of the festival each got winning takes on modern romance. “This song is about falling in love with a robot,” Zauner bantered before wowing the This Tent crowd with her sky-reaching vocal prowess on the Auto-Tuned “Machinist.” Lahey opened festivities on the main stage, where the jaunty hooks of kiss-offs like “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me” and “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself” sounded even more irresistible blasting out of a sound system fit for a Muse concert. A.G.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Tent Revivalists: Old Crow Medicine Show

“Did you bring your dancing shoes to Bonnaroo?” Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor asked the crowd gathered for the Nashville string band’s Saturday-sunset performance slot on the Which Stage. Yes, the audience did – and they also had weed, which fans enthusiastically sparked up as the group sang the “everybody must get stoned” chorus of Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” their opening song. Aside from the Grand Ole Opry ­­ – Old Crow are members, and they closed out the Nashville institution’s Sunday-night broadcast from That Tent – there’s no better forum for the band’s rollicking jams than Bonnaroo. The wild-eyed Secor shuffled back and forth for a vigorous harmonica breakdown; mandolinist Cory Younts showed off his possessed-by-the-spirit dancing; and the rock-steady Chance McCoy helped hold it all together on acoustic guitar and backing vocals. The group may still be adapting to life on a major label (they released Volunteer via Columbia Records this year), but they’ve never been more in the zone onstage. J.H.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Most Versatile Star: Kali Uchis

Kali Uchis flitted from genre to genre during her soothing late-afternoon performance on Saturday. “Know What I Want,” which dissects an imploding relationship, pointed to sing-song lover’s rock; “Feel Like a Fool,” which skewers an unfaithful partner, evoked sugary neo-Motown. “Flight 22” was a tranquil soul ballad in 6/8 time, and “Just a Stranger” was jolting, brawny funk. Uchis’ versatility is the kind that festival bookers dream of when putting together their lineups: It’s a way to appeal to as many potential ticket-buyers as possible, and, more charitably, it suggests a welcoming, open-eared approach to pop. Yet Uchis’ performance also served as a reminder that big festivals still have a long way to go when it comes to genuine inclusiveness. The Colombian-American singer performed “Nuestro Planeta,” a serene reggaeton collaboration with Reykon (absent at Bonnaroo) that is one of several sharp Spanish songs in her catalog – but despite Spanish-language pop’s prominent place in the American mainstream, Uchis was the only lead performer at Bonnaroo with a Latin radio hit. E.L.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best House Set: Mija

Mija is known for her unpredictability – she’ll concoct arena-ready EDM at one moment and insular, off-kilter electronic music the next. On Sunday at The Other, the L.A. DJ-producer went in another direction entirely, seamlessly mixing together a lavish selection of modern house cuts. Her choices included Camelphat’s “Cola,” one of last year’s biggest crossover club records thanks to its chantable chorus and nonchalant glide, and Midland’s “Final Credits,” a disco-house insta-classic that sampled Gladys Knight’s “Neither One of Us” almost two years before the release of DJ Koze’s current dancefloor-wrecker “Pick Up.” (Word to the wise: Don’t confuse the U.K. producer who recorded “Final Credits” with the identically named country group Midland, who performed at Bonnaroo the previous afternoon.) Elsewhere, Mija relied on long, satisfying synth arpeggios, brute-force vocal loops and distorted, insistent basslines. Usually an electronic artist working within the confines of an hour-long set moves abruptly from peak to peak, packing in as many climaxes as possible, but Mija maintained the pacing of a club setting, knitting her selections together with winning patience. E.L.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Bite on a Stick: Baconland’s Candied Bacon

Bonnaroo attendees looking to stand out in the crowd – or just have an easy beacon for their friends to find them – brandished sticks topped by eye-catching items like flags, heads and scrawled-on signs. At Baconland, one of the food stands in the pork-and-metal-minded Hamageddon pavilion, the sticks were smaller, but the effect was no less mighty: A few bucks bought two wooden skewers topped with crisp yet syrupy bacon, the sort of snack made for spiking the brain’s sweet-salty-fatty receptors and giving even the most heat-sapped attendee motivation to keep on going. M.J.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Punk Rock Party: The Regrettes

There’s
no shortage of bad decisions to be made at Bonnaroo. Wearing flip-flops
in porta-potties; mixing wine, liquor (and other things); choosing to
watch Bassnectar… the list goes on. But everyone except for the
500-or-so lucky festivalgoers who caught
Saturday afternoon’s Who Stage set from L.A.
punk-pop quartet The Regrettes are the ones who really fucked up this
year. Leaving it all on the stage, careening through almost their entire
repertoire of ’60s girl-group-informed, ’70s-harkening
tunes in a breakneck 22 minutes, the band – fronted by boundlessly
energetic 17-year-old frontwoman Lydia Night, who’s got charisma and
devil-may-care moxie to spare – was all smiles, taking cues from The
Clash and making the idea of resistance and revolution
fun. “I don’t see any moshing; that’s a concern,” Night said, inspiring
a uber-posi slam pit. A.G.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Rowdiest Mosh Pit: Playboi Carti

Playboi Carti runs his shows like a cop directing traffic during rush hour, feeding the crowd a steady stream of instructions: “I need a motherfucking mosh pit to open up in the middle,” the Atlanta MC yelled between almost every song of his Friday set in This Tent. “Open that motherfucker up!” Once fans were aligned properly, the DJ would cue up one of Carti’s bludgeoning tracks – often produced with flair by Pi’erre Bourne – and the holes in the crowd would immediately disappear, filling with writhing bodies. The between-song breaks made for a choppy show, but they proved that Carti has perfected the art of inciting crowd mayhem: He barely rapped at all during his performance, and it barely mattered. It probably helped that Carti was the only young rapper on the Bonnaroo bill with a recent Top 40 hit. It immediately became clear, even before he hit the stage, that festival-goers were itching for more hip-hop from performers their own age: All Carti’s DJ had to do to get the crowd moving was play a brief snippet of a track by Tay-K, and within seconds, the audience transformed into a seething mass of arms and legs. E.L.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Place to Chill: Tonalism

Contrary to popular belief, there is at least one spot within miles of Centeroo where chill Bonnaroovians can escape the deafening, mellow-harshing, abrasive sensory assault of Bassnectar and Glitch Mob’s kiddie EDM, or the heart-stopping blast of Eminem’s pyrotechnics: Tonalism, the best-kept secret among Bonnaroo’s new campground activations. Located in the far reaches of the lot, this all-night, ambient anti-rave is where tired heads can melt into rectangular bean-bag chairs, stare at trippy patterns projected on the ceiling and meditate to body-buzzing deep-dub audio hallucinations courtesy of outsider DJs like Nanny Cantaloupe and Jimmy Tamborello. Go there late enough and you’ll literally hear them over the sound of snoring festival-goers. A.G.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Most Grown-and-Sexy Opening-Night Act: R.LUM.R

Two years ago, Reggie Williams was in the Bonnaroo crowd, watching Miguel and getting inspired to go full-throttle on his own musical dreams. Thursday night, he commanded That Tent as R.LUM.R, a shape-shifting artist whose R&B roots and classical-guitar training give extra verve to his pillowy pop-EDM breaks, boisterous bubble-funk breakdowns and psychedelic-shack guitar solos. His set not only helped triangulate Bonnaroo’s musical sprawl, incorporating neo-soul and big-tent dance music alongside technically adept playing that could stretch into all-night jam sessions; it showed how its inclusive nature extends to turning audience members into performers. Don’t be surprised if, a couple of years from now, an up-and-comer raves about how R.LUM.R’s set – accompanied by an ebullient sign-language interpreter and punctuated by an emphatic “Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do what the fuck you want” – inspired their journey to Bonnaroo’s lineup. M.J.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Living History: Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples stopped her Saturday set on the Which Stage to offer a Civil Rights history lesson, preaching about the Selma-to-Montgomery march in Alabama in 1965. “Sometimes you gotta get ugly,” she said, before launching into a moving performance of the title track of her 2010 album, You Are Not Alone. This wasn’t the 78-year-old gospel icon’s first Bonnaroo, but she approached it with all the verve of a new artist. A show-closing version of the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” was dutifully euphoric, with Staples providing a musical balm in troubled times. J.H.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Jukebox Heroes: Midland

It’s fashionable to hate on Midland: They’re inauthentic, the Monkees of country music, yadda yadda. But their Saturday late-afternoon set at This Tent called bullshit on such claims, with the trio proving to be both versatile musicians and confident entertainers. Along with “Drinkin’ Problem” and new single “Burn Out” from their debut On the Rocks, the band delivered a jukebox’s worth of cover songs. Frontman Mark Wystrach led a spontaneous crowd singalong on Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight”; ZZ Top’s “La Grange” nodded to the group’s Texas homebase; and Springsteen’s “Tougher Than the Rest,” strengthened by guitarist Jess Carson’s nuanced licks, was a pleasant surprise. The capper, though, was when bassist Cameron Duddy climbed behind the drum kit to flail away and sing Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” with an assist from photographer Danny Clinch on harmonica. Afterward, the band hightailed it back to Nashville to do it all over again at CMA Fest. J.H.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Fake-Nashville Experience: Hot Chicken and Karaoke With T-Pain

Karaoke with T-Pain: It’s as good an idea in practice as it is on paper. “We’re gonna get this shit fuckin’ crackin’, because it took me 30 minutes to get to this bitch from my trailer,” hip-hop’s greatest ambassador of Auto-Tune told the 75-to-100 solid-decision-makers getting lit at 2 a.m. in the Ville, a Nashville-themed installation situated deep in the festival’s gentrified sprawl of campgrounds. “It took a long fuckin’ time to get here, it was weird. It was a lot of butts at one time.” This bizarro Nashville experience also included eating mouth-igniting, eye-watering tenders from Music City’s legendary Prince’s Hot Chicken while watching T-Pain’s experiment devolve into an affable insult-comedy act for the exceedingly lovable singer-MC, as would-be karaoke singers had mid-trip meltdowns when they got onstage and realized what they’d signed up for. “Y’all, I’m fuckin’ lit!” one woman shouted after totally blowing it on the first verse of Aaliyah’s “More Than a Woman” – not unlike a scene you’d see at a bachelorette party at Ms. Kelli’s Karaoke Bar in Printer’s Alley. And like downtown Nashville’s tourist trap of trap of honky-tonks, Friday night meant an onslaught of sing-alongs to bar standards like “Wagon Wheel,” “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” A.G.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Pop Masterclass: Nile Rodgers and Chic

The kids filing the field in front of What Stage for Nile Rodgers and Chic’s Saturday evening mass dance party might not have known what they were in for: hits, hits and more hits. And if these whippersnappers didn’t know Rodgers was the writer and/or producer behind pure pop gold such as “Like a Virgin,” “Let’s Dance,” and “Le Freak” before the gig, they sure as hell do now. Leading a current lineup of Chic with studio-tight funk pockets and pitch-perfect harmonies that had to be heard to be believed, the 65-year-old legend led Bonnaroo through a storyteller-style history lesson on his Midas touch, from wedding-party staples like “We Are Family” and “Good Times” to Daft Punk and Pharrell’s 2013 instaclassic “Get Lucky.” Some heritage acts rest on nostalgia, while others breathe life into their back catalogs and bring their music into the moment. Rodgers and Chic are most certainly among the latter. A.G.

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Best Motivational Dance Party: Paramore

Last year, Paramore put out After Laughter, a candy-dipped chronicle of depression and anxiety that used highlife guitars and high-gloss synths as a glare-inducing contrast to downcast lyrics. While other acts might let these sorts of sentiments drag down their mood, Paramore have used the ideas discussed on After Laughter as a catalyst for openness about life’s darker moments. After performing the dreamy “Pool” at Bonnaroo, vocalist Hayley Williams took a seat on the stage and opened up to the audience, talking about the circumstances that led to After Laughter and the chaos lurking in the rest of the world. “We’re in a really strange time, and it’s very dark,” she said. “And every day you wake up and you don’t know what the news is going to be, and most of the time it’s not great.” She touched on that morning’s news of Anthony Bourdain’s death, not mentioning the late food ambassador by name but noting that the loss was sad on a human level because “we are all people, coexisting.” Using that as an impetus to bring the crowd together, she asked the assembled to take a moment and breathe in the collective energy. “No matter what you’re going through, I know this doesn’t make it go away,” she said. “But for one second, just be present, enjoy music … and let’s just fuckin’ dance.” The skittery, withering “Told You So,” fueled by Williams’ pugilistic energy, made it easy to follow suit. M.J.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Family Band: Brothers Osborne

Sunday’s What Stage set by T.J. and John Osborne was brisk and refreshing, the pair’s slick take on country-blues complementing the breezes that blew in after the morning’s rainstorms. “Ever since I started coming to Bonnaroo, I’ve dreamed of being on this fuckin’ stage,” lead vocalist T.J. Osborne said before kicking into the small-town salute “Down Home.” Their set radiated gratitude, with the wobbly synths that led into “One Last Kiss” elegantly contrasting with T.J.’s ribbony vibrato and the one-two punch of the Temptations classic “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and their own devil’s-night-out chronicle “It Ain’t My Fault” offering dueling perspectives on the idea of the outlaw. M.J.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Most Soothing: Moses Sumney

Early-afternoon slots at Bonnaroo are notoriously tough. A lot of fest-goers haven’t moseyed over to Centeroo yet, and those who have must contend with the merciless Tennessee sun. That wasn’t an issue for Los Angeles singer-songwriter Moses Sumney, though, who drew a considerable crowd for Saturday’s first What Stage. Drawing partially from his 2017 debut Aromanticism, the black-clad Sumney mesmerized a typically rowdy bunch with songs like “Make Out in My Car,” which got an especially hypnotic treatment from his band. He also debuted some new songs, including “Rain Cloud” – which, as its name suggests, was just dreamy enough to make one forget the temperature was pushing 100 degrees. B.M.

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Grimiest Hip-Hop Set: Westside Gunn and Conway

Westside Gunn and Conway, a pair of MCs (and real-life brothers) from Buffalo, New York, opened Friday’s slate of This Tent performances with an impressively single-minded set. The beats were slow and spooky, full of shivering string samples, haunted-house keyboards, degraded vocal samples from old soul records and insistent drums; the rapping, as Conway put it, focused on “real-life street tales of drug-dealing and gun-toting.” But if the songs were filled with grim lessons and dire warnings, the performers were buoyant, cheerfully insulting former Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan, complimenting each other – “Goddamn, you killed that shit,” Westside Gunn told Conway – and asking hopefully for some free weed: “If y’all got some extra bud, I put my phone number up there,” Westside Gunn said, gesturing towards the screen. “I smoke all motherfucking day.” One out of every three sentences from these two rappers is a statement about their commitment to “real hip-hop;” Conway enjoys referring to himself as the “grimiest [rapper] of all time.” This rhetoric could become tiresome, but Westside Gunn and Conway have enough onstage charm to make it endearing. E.L.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Reason to Brave the Heat: Tyler Childers

The shade under That Tent provided little respite from the oppressive heat by midafternoon Saturday, when on-the-rise country songwriter Tyler Childers took the stage. But that didn’t stop the 25-year-old Kentucky longhair from pouring himself into clock-stopping weepers like “Universal Sound,” from his 2017 Sturgill Simpson-produced LP Purgatory. It didn’t keep the crowd from clapping and hollering along to a spirited, beyond-Bonnaroo-appropriate romp through Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show’s 1972 classic “I Got Stoned and I Missed It,” either. A.G.

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Most Enthusiastic Rockers: *repeat repeat

Led by husband-and-wife duo Jared and Kristyn Corder, Nashville rockers *repeat repeat managed to win over the blister-footed crowd at the club-sized Who Stage, even after four dusty, muddy, sleep-deprived days. Whether drinking beer handed up to the stage by audience members or leading call-and-response routines with the fury of a revival preacher, Jared worked the stage with a zeal seldom seen since the heyday of The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn. Kristyn played foil, contributing quirky harmonies to the band’s punchy brand of surf-punk. Nodding to at least one inspiration for the verve and gusto of their live show, the band called up Nashville up-and-comer R.LUM.R to bust out a guitar solo on the band’s psych-rock rave-up “Everybody’s Falling in Love” and a spirited, set-closing cover of The Hives’ “Tick Tick Boom.” A.G.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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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.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Tribute: Tom Petty SuperJam

As the leader of this year’s SuperJam, My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Callahan called up a rotating cast of singers from pop, indie rock, country and soul to pay tribute to Tom Petty. There was plenty of star power – Paramore’s Hayley Williams tackled “Into the Great Wide Open,” while Sheryl Crow blazed through a casually masterful “American Girl” – and several surprise duets: Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon (pictured here) reprised Stevie Nicks’ and Petty’s roles on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” and Rayland Baxter and his father, pedal steel player Bucky Baxter, performed together on “Here Comes My Girl.” An event like this could make an argument about overlooked songs in Petty’s catalog, or reimagine some of Petty’s classic tracks as a way of illustrating connections between his work and later bands that used his music as inspiration. But this SuperJam had a more straightforward goal: Eliciting sing-alongs. The song choice was a greatest-hits distillation of Petty’s catalog, and the renditions were unfailingly faithful. One of the night’s most exciting moments came when a singer made room for his own interpretation of Petty’s work. Jalen N’Gonda’s “You Got Lucky” was full of virtuosic falsetto runs, pushing Petty’s mean-spirited original – “you got lucky when I found you” – toward something tender and more reverent. E.L.

Best things we saw at Bonnaroo 2018

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Best Teachable Moments: Clean Vibes’ “Trash Talk”

Music festivals can suck up a lot of energy – the planetary kind, that is. But Bonnaroo prides itself on being sustainable, offering plenty of water sources to encourage easy refilling of Camelbaks brought in and stainless-steel cups bought on site, seminars on “clean camping” and growing one’s own food, 100-percent compostable food-service items, and a trading post where people could swap bottles, cans and butts for merch and sundries. Often times, though, a trash area with more than one option for disposal can cause confusion, and Bonnaroo had three destinations for its festivalgoers’ detritus: recycling, compost and landfill. Thanks to the “Trash Talk” program operated by the festival’s pickup crew Clean Vibes, those who hesitated before the bins were smoothly guided to their trash’s correct destination – and, perhaps, given a gentle reminder about how they could sort their waste when they arrived home. M.J.

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