This year’s Bonnaroo curators covered important bases in terms of top-level talent: from iconic boomer-fare like Paul McCartney and Tom Petty, to iconic R&B fare like R. Kelly, to iconic hipster/hippie fare (a Bonnaroo speciality) in Animal Collective. And the undercard was ripe, too, with strong names from most every genre over four days on the ‘Roo family farm. You could focus on bands like Baroness, or Death Grips, or Nas, or Edward Sharp. Which is not to say you should focus on every band, but as a New Yorker once said, the world is yours (is yours is yours).
In Centeroo, the festival’s central marketplace, folks danced to a dubstep remix of Sublime’s “Santeria.” Molly was everywhere, but it was most especially with the ripped kid wearing a shirt that said “MOLLY MONSTER,” who took the xx’s midnight set to announce loudly “I’m on probation, too. Guess what? I’M ON EVERYTHING.” Welcome to Bonnaroo 2013.
Take our word for it: The shows were great! The experience was immersive and things were remarkably organized, midday and midnight alike, in that way that makes Bonnaroo a special American festival. And so, onstage, many special things happened. A quick rundown of some memories:
Matt & Kim had something like 100 people crowdsurf their way up to the stage from the back, on demand. Solange sang “Two Weeks” with Grizzly Bear during their set, then did her cover of “Stillness Is The Move” for her own. St. Vincent sang “Don’t Swallow The Cap” with the National, then performed her customary full set with David Byrne. Swans conjured ominous grey storm clouds with their punishing seance-rock, then Tame Impala parted them, ushering in a psychedelic sunset horizon immediately thereafter. (Both were terrific, though Swans played to not enough people and Tame to so, so many.) Kendrick Lamar charmed and owned, backed only by his DJ, during a 5PM mainstage set that was about three-times as large as Nas’s similarly timed, similarly staged full-band set the day before; “Weird Al” wore like 30 outfits in an essentialistic revue of his meta brilliance. Oh, and Nas turned “New York State Of Mind” into, yes, “Bonnaroo State Of Mind.” It was that sorta thing.
Those were all good things. But now for the 9 best, starting here.