Dark clouds were rolling in as a reminder that we were, in fact, in the middle of nowhere and susceptible to the elements on The Farm. The damp humidity and sprinkles of rain, however, did not hold anyone back from their use of face paint, costumes or positive vibes. A thirteen-foot VW bus, the world’s largest VW bus to be exact, rolled through the grounds where “Walter The Bus” inspires creativity, freedom and connectivity.
It was not long before the Pennsylvania-based Dr. Dog jumped onto Which Stage with their signature marquee in tow. Dr. Dog prescribed what attendees surrounding the outdoor Which Stage needed – a dose of their lo-fi sound and catchy pop lyrics. Although the clouds were prominent, it did not stop the boys from grooving on stage and providing a sunny act comprised of songs from their sophomore to latest albums. The best moment was the band’s rendition of “Jackie Wants A Black Eye,” when the whole audience erupted into the chorus.
From one indie band to the next, Jake Bugg rang up next with his folky take on simplistic blues rock. Under his shaggy brown hair and acoustic guitar, the English musician opened up with “There’s A Beast and We All Feed It.” His baby face smiled as the crowd cheered once fan favorites “Lightning Bolt” and “Two Fingers” followed. The hit “Two Fingers” painted a portrait about mobbing on and growing up, and the Bonnaroovians were quick to “hold two fingers up to yesterday to wish the world away.”
Next door inside The Other Tent, The Naked and Famous presented a set filled with electro indie pop. The New Zealand Kiwis welcomed and thanked the audience for the warm experience of their first Bonnaroo. Opening up with their track “Girls Like You,” keyboardist and vocalist, Alisa Xayalith captured everyone’s attention with her electric vocals. The bright white and purple stage lights complimented her platinum pixie cut as she graced the stage, taking full advantage of the positive vibes radiating from the crowd. Of course it was “Young Blood” that got the crowd really responding to The Naked and Famous.
Temperatures dropped as the day began to wind down. Tents lit up with their variety of light shows, trying to entice festival goers who were done with their day festivities of frisbee and water slides. The New Music On Tap Lounge sponsored by Miller Lite drew in a particularly large crowd. Fans stood on large cement weights or took a spot up on the beams to get a full perfect view of Animals As Leaders. Formed in 2007, lead guitarist and music genius Tosin Abasi fronts the instrumental progressive metal jazz band. Sure, the genre may seem like a mouthful, but the mixture of sounds and instruments featured in their sets left everyone speechless. The most impressive was Abasi’s musical talent with his eight-string guitar. The opportunity to witness the instrumental genius of Abasi’s talent live was extraordinary to say the least and an absolute treasure to experience on that Southern night.
A heavier sound emanated from other tents on day two. Comprised of founding members vocalist George Clarke and lead guitarist Kerry McCoy, Deafheaven represented black metal with their commanding presence and Clarke’s roaring howls. Deafheaven was another band on the Bonnaroo roster that integrated black metal, shoe-gaze and post-metal genres. Their combination simply allowed the listeners to just appreciate their sound with their set sampling from both their freshman album Roads to Judah and their sophomore album Sunbather.
Holding the crowns for summer jams, English brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence of Disclosure delivered such a colorful and energetic set. LED screens provided the music videos of their hit singles as their backdrop. The audience fed off of their beaming smiles as the two brothers jumped right into their set, opening with “When The Fire Starts To Burn” off of their first full length album Settle. Their pop-esque, nineties dance-flavored beats paired with the modern dubstep feel brought Bonnaroo into full dance party mode.
As the night grew darker and the stars burned brighter in the sky, they say the freaks came out to play. Known for their outrageous persona and off-the-wall stage performances, Die Antwoord took to the stage in matching neon orange sweat suits. Their set opened up with the voicemail recording of Ninja titled “Don’t Fuk Me” off their latest album Donker Mag. Emerging full force with her iconic and intriguing high-pitched vocals, Yolandi Visser pulsed on stage. They ripped through their set, performing new and old songs, but nothing could prepare to the mass of energy erupting during “Enter the Ninja.” Although their music has a sound all in its own, it was the duo’s live performance that truly brought their music to life.
Thousands of heads turned toward the main stage, aka What Stage. It was time. The performance that had everyone buzzing and tagging – Mr. Kanye West’s time slot had come. Words whispered across The Farm as certain concert goers agreeing to boo Kanye West just as they did back in 2008. Others whispered whether or not his new Kardashian bride would be there. Sure enough, after a fifteen-minute delay, West took to the stage. Wearing a white nylon mask, the rapper’s jam “Black Skinhead” rang through the speakers as he delivered the single in front of a large white LED screen. In true Kanye fashion, he took every and any opportunity to call out and rant about whatever was on his mind in between tracks. After introducing his next single, “New Slaves” as the “most realest shit [I] ever wrote,” a single spotlight shone down. His performance became nothing short of egotistical and again – all about him. Oh, and if you were curious – yes, a Kardashian did in fact make an appearance on The Farm.
Kanye West Set List
I Don’t Like (Chief Keef cover)
Clique (Kanye West, Jay-Z & Big Sean cover)
Can’t Tell Me Nothing
Say You Will
Run This Town (JAY Z cover)
Diamonds from Sierra Leone
All Falls Down
Touch the Sky
All of the Lights
Blood on the Leaves