Last weekend, me and my friends descended upon the magical land that is Bonnaroo. It was first time ever visiting the farm. And it ended up being one of the most memorable, wonderful, and life-altering experience of my life.
We drove in Thursday from Missouri after a six-hour drive and headed straight to see one of the most buzz-about up-and-coming bands in the fest- Haim. We got there early enough to enjoy swinging set by JD McPherson and his band. Haim, put on their game (and bass) faces on and rocked their way through, only stopping to bring a young boy on stage to join them after the band spotted him holding a “Kiss Me Este” sign. We went for a little break to grab a quick dinner but came back just in time to catch a super-packed super-fun dance party heralded by Django Django. People were shoulder to shoulder and jumping along to every beat of the songs. Afterwards, we were entranced and serenaded by Father John Misty, proving he is his own act, apart from Fleet Foxes. To close the night, we tried to stop by the Alt-J tent, but the place was so full of people, it was impossible to get in. It was amazing to think how the Alt-J boys have ascended to the throne of unofficial Thursday headliners when one year ago they were still a relatively unknown band.
Friday was an early start for us as we went to see Local Natives. We were charmed by their musicianship, their harmonies, and their facial hair. And wow, were they rambunctious live! I separated from my friends next to see Grizzly Bear and the hazy sun provided just the right mood for the boys and their choir-boy harmonies. Solange even came out to sing a beautiful rendition of Two Weeks with the band. Everyone then started heading to the main stage to see Sir Paul McCartney live. It was a surreal experience to be seeing a living Beatle in the flesh and Sir Paul rocked out with the best of them even in his seventies. For almost everybody, seeing Sir Paul was worth the price of the ticket itself and more. With tons of consternation, I ducked out halfway through Sir Paul’s set to go see The xx. The regret eased a little when The xx started playing as the band put out a fantastic set, complete with moody light shows and dramatic poses. We even sand Oliver Sim happy birthday!
Saturday was a shorter day for us as we slept in to get our energy back. But we got up in time to see Dirty Projectors as they harmonized for us in their own beautiful oblique way (catching the end of The Tallest Man on Earth‘s set as well). We then headed over to a different stage to wait for The Lumineers. And while waiting, we were able to glimpse a happier more stage-savvy Cat Power. When The Lumineers came on, we were charmed by their aw-shucks earnestness. They made us feel better about wanting to stay their whole set since Mumford & Sons cancelled from the festival yesterday because of an emergency brain clot surgery for bassist Ted Dwane. We eneded the night light as we stayed for the Jim James and John Oates led Super Jam. I was kinda bummed though when I heard the next day that R Kelly, Billy Idol, and Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes joined the Super Jam after since we left halfway through the set.
As Sunday rolled along, we were starting to feel kinda sad that this magical experience was coming to an end but not before we danced our behinds off for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. No guilty feelings here for thoroughly enjoying the goofiness of Macklemore. Things became serious quickly as Kendrick Lamar came out next. Lamar flashed a different side of rap, and it’s brilliant. Afterward, we waited patiently for The National (one of the acts I was looking forward to seeing the most personally). Matt Berninger and the guys completely rocked the show out, bringing Bonnaroo 2013 racing towards an epic conclusion for me. Before leaving early to beat the traffic though, we went over to see the end of David Byrne & St Vincent‘s wonderfully choreographed set. And with that, Bonnaroo 2013 was a memory, forever etched in my mind and heart.
Check out photos and videos I took from the festival embedded below.