The 13th annual Bonnaroo is in the books, and once again, the event brought music fans and talented artists from all over to the world-famous Coffee County field.
Elton played a generous portion of his many hits to bring the weekend to a close on Sunday, June 15. From “Bennie and the Jets” and “Rocket Man” to “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and “Sad Songs,” from “Candle in the Wind” to “Crocodile Rock,” the What Stage was a giant sing-along party once again. The glowstick crowd doesn’t seem to care if it’s Widespread Panic, Bassnectar or “Tiny Dancer,” the night air was aglow, as is the June tradition.
The world of music has changed greatly since the early days of the festival; electronic, computerized sounds comprise an ever-growing portion of the weekend’s entertainment. Still, many different styles of music pop up at the festival.
“Yay for instruments,” Dave Bruzza of Greensky Bluegrass said jokingly, as the crowd applauded the stringed tools of the trade the players wielded onstage.
That said, the otherwise traditional string group did put some electronic effects on slide guitar, straying a little from the unplugged sounds of the totally-acoustic purists.
Not long after, the high-energy Janelle Monae delivered a show-stopping production on that very stage, including a fantasy skit in which Monae’s handlers wheeled her out to the mic on a dolly, only to have her later escape from a straitjacket and gun down a couple of them, all set to funky, lively music.
Many of the artists this year followed Monae’s example of jumping into the crowd; Thomas Mars of Phoenix (possibly the most successful French rock band in history), surfed an impressive distance on the frenzied crowd.
Multiple artists communicated messages of hope and motivation to the youthful attendees, another theme of the weekend. Vintage Trouble encouraged everyone to spread the positivity of music and life. Shortly after losing a friend of the band to suicide, they asked the crowd at their set to be a positive light of hope in everyone’s lives, and to shake and dance away their blues and tensions whenever the opportunity arises.
In addition to wild and colorful outfits, many Bonnaroovians expressed themselves through various signs, flags and accessories that could be seen atop the crowds as music played.
The dancing skeleton on a concertgoer’s shoulders during Meshuggah’s set was so hardcore, as was the band’s light show and performance as a whole. Blinding blinding, deafening deafening . . . wonderful stuff. To the couple hundred heavy metal enthusiasts still under This Tent at 3 a.m., 2014 will forever be known as the year Meshuggah came to the ’Roo.
The Flaming Lips and their ever-colorful eccentricity paid homage to The Beatles with a big “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” closer in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
About 12 hours later, multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz performed a midday set on Sunday under the Other Tent, for those seeking a little shelter from the afternoon sun.
The Lone Bellow followed her, with some folksy rockabilly jams; great vocals and fun times.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation kept things extra funky and brassy with their stylistic mix of equal parts marching band, New Orleans jazz, heavy metal and perfect summertime dancing-in-a-field music.
Whomever it was performing the headlining set on Friday with the strange mask and boring light show who thought himself such a rock star was barely a better rapper than I am, though. . . .
See ’ya next year, Bonnaroo!