Bonnaroo’s strong suit is in its diversity

Skrillex kept the party going early Sunday morning at Bonnaroo.

Early Sunday morning, much of the most populated farm in Tennessee was lit up by the piercing beats of brostep king Skrillex. For just one long weekend, New York City had some unlikely competition for the “city that never sleeps”: the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.

Bonnaroo’s strong suit is in its diversity — while the ever prevalent folkies got their fix from the banjo-totin’ Trampled By Turtles, comedy lovers saw hot act Aziz Ansari and fans of female indie pop swooned to Feist’s sweet voice. And that was just the docket for early evening on Friday.

While the first of the festival headliners didn’t perform until Friday night, buzz rock band Alabama Shakes easily set the stage Thursday evening as lead singer Brittany Howard showcased her soulful voice.

On Friday, the first full day of the festival, it became apparent that only the most grizzled music aficionados frequent these dust and mud-filled fields. Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs continued the string of edgy girl-fronted acts early afternoon, leading up to ‘Roo faves The Avett Brothers and their catchy folk rock.

After Feist showed her hippie spirit and Foster the People pumped up the jams, Radio­head took to the main stage for an admirable appearance.

Thom Yorke and his boys from Britain lived up to the hype, intermingling more jammy electro material from their latest release, “King of Limbs,” with older hits like “Karma Police.” “Where are you guys sleeping tonight?” front man Thom Yorke asked the crowd midway through the set. “In a field, face down in the mud? That’s what we do in Britain.”

Saturday was just as packed with must-see sets, showcasing electropop act Santigold, Donald Glover’s solo rap act Childish Gambino, and a reunion of roots rock group Dispatch. Their well-known song “The General” was one of the best performances at Bonnaroo, starting a crowd-rousing sing-along.
Red Hot Chili Peppers and Phish headlined Saturday and Sunday, respectively, while another marquee highlight came from  the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary set.

A tent city

Pass the guy hawking glass pipes, make a left at the pizza place and fall asleep on the corner of Walnut Drive and Northam Street — in a tent in the middle of a field.

The 70-plus camping areas that tens of thousands of music fans called home for four days created a temporary midsized city, complete with gridded streets, hundreds of food options and acres of makeshift stores selling clothes and goods. It’s surprising that Bonnaroo city is only here for four days.


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