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The Best of Bonnaroo 2013

Close to 200 acts performed this year. Here are the top 14

paul mccartney

Ebru Yildiz

As a festival, Bonnaroo has come to be defined by its diversity – Malian worldbeat duo Amadou and Mariam, bookish indie stars Grizzly Bear and hip-hop legends the Wu-Tang Clan performed within hours of each other on Friday. But the main-stage headliner always plays unopposed, the idea being that the entire Bonnaroo community can coalesce around a single artist. Across cultural, generational and aesthetic lines, whose catalogue could possibly be more universal than McCartney's? The answer: Nobody's. And that made this the single greatest Bonnaroo headlining performance in the festival's 12-year history, as it was moment after awesome moment of fever-pitched collective transcendence. "Paperback Writer," "Maybe I'm Amazed," "Band on the Run," "Blackbird," "Something" (played in tribute to George Harrison), "Eleanor Rigby," "We Can Work It Out," "Hey Jude" – to have not gotten swept up in and invigorated by the life-affirming celebration would be an outright rejection of joy.

Charli XCX

Gary Miller/WireImage

Charli XCX

20-year-old English indietronica star-in-the-making Charli XCX was banging her head like Beyonce at the Superbowl on Friday, skipping across the stage scantily clad in a plaid and camouflage school-girl's uniform, belting out razor-sharp melodies in loud, smoky bellow over a sleek, synth-pop sheen and a propulsive live drummer. "I want to know who's taken any drugs this weekend," Charli polled the criminally modest-in-size crowd, to inevitable cheers. "This song's about E, so this one's for you," she continued, introducing the gritty, dance-floor-ready "Take My Hand." The tent went into full roof-raise when the singer busted into "I Love It," the almost disgustingly catchy hit she had with Swedish electro duo Icona Pop. If Charli XCX continues to win over crowds with her hooks and stadium-suited gestures, she could follow the path of Boston synth-pop college favorites Passion Pit, who had a breakout with their 2009 first-day tent slot, in the middle of a rainstorm.

divine fits

Ebru Yildiz

Divine Fits

Indie-rock fans didn't have it so easy on Sunday, as overlapping sets from Tame Impala, The National, Divine Fits and David Byne and St. Vincent left many in a near circle-on-circle-encompassing Venn diagram of listeners with some agonizing choices to make. It's a shame that more people weren't checking out Divine Fits. Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner played with the commitment of a young band on a mini stage, Daniel bouncing across the stage slaying his Telecaster screaming the New Wave hook "Baby Get Worse" and the ragged, charming "Would That Not Be Nice."

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