In the blink of an eye – be it due to dust, vapors, or “medicinal” smoke – the weekend that was Bonnaroo comes to a close on Sunday. The days of toiling away in the unforgivable Manchester heat amongst throngs of fatigued Bonnaroovians that continue to doggedly gyrate and frolic with every last ounce of their spirit, propelled by radiant positivity (and possible controlled substances) and a desire to hold off real world obligations for at least another 24 hours.
Day 4 saw a lot plenty of familiar faces take their respective stages throughout the day – Maren Morris, Civil Twilight, Jason Isbell, Lettuce – as well as heavy hitting sets from indie demigods Kurt Vile, Death Cab for Cutie, and Father John Misty. The opening sets for the day were not a robust as days past, due largely to the exhaustive heat and waning physical fortitude, but that didn’t detract from solid opening sets from folkster John Moreland, or from the sets of bluegrass Queen, Sara Watkins.
Before hitting the opening sets, I sat in on the final presser of the festival, which featured Kurt Vile, Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind, Margaret Glaspy, Jason Isbell, Sam Harris from X Ambassadors, Maren Morris, and Ed Helms of The Office, who was leading the Bluegrass Situation SuperJam. There were lighthearted moments during the panel – Kurt Vile and Stephan Jenkins show glints of considerable disdain for the other, as Vile demonstratively showed his lack of interest in Jenkins’ answers – along with more concerted discourse regarding the recent devastation in Orlando. Jenkins and Glaspy were the most vocal when speaking out about the tragedy at Pulse earlier that morning.
Upon the end of the presser, I ran out and got shots of Sara Watkins’ set in the That Tent, the day’s residence for all things bluegrass, then headed over to The Other Tent to check out the world pop party that was GIVERS’ set before heading over to What Stage to continue my festival-tradition of witnessing the Screaming Eagle of Soul, Charles Bradley; I have a considerable soft spot for Mr. Bradley and his Extraordinaires. After hitting Charles Bradley’s set, I headed over to Who Stage to catch my favorite discovery of the festival – Baltimore shredders Sun Club – and then headed to check out some of Korey Dane’s set at the Miller Stage before shooting some artist portraits.
After portraits with GIVERS, it was back to Who Stage to catch the country music maven of Nashville, Maren Morris, who had one of the biggest crowds at Who Stage all weekend, an admitted surprise considering her slight non-Bonnaroo sensibilities; all that to be said, it was great to see a Nashville artist getting some serious love from the Bonnaroovians. After Morris’ Who Stage set, it was off to Which Stage to see my favorite artist, the one, the only, his holiness, the Father John Misty. The sardonic wit of Misty ran deep in his Bonnaroo set, poking fun at the common practice of psychedelic use at festivals and exploring existential crises.
Following the magnificence (I am highly biased, obviously) of FJM’s set, I set out to catch some of Lord Huron’s This Tent set before heading back over to What Stage to see Dead & Co. Admittedly, I’m not a huge Dead Head, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by the sheer ability of Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Bob Weir despite their increasing age. Compound their legendary status with John Mayer, and you can paint me intrigued.
In classic Bonnaroo fashion, the jam band headliner finished out the festival (with the exception of a set from D∆WN following the set, which I did not attend due to festival war weariness) with a four-hour set that in retrospect went by as quickly as the festival itself. Despite the record breaking heat advisories – according to my buddy Wes, who was running security at Which Stage, they had 8 heat strokes on Sunday alone – and strange sentiments (mostly with regard to Live Nation) surrounding this year’s festival, Bonnaroo 2016 will be remarkable as the years pass and people become increasingly wax poetic about the 15th anniversary of running yourself ragged on The Farm. But at this point, the only thing I’m concerned with is a shower and not sleeping in my car.
It’s the best time and worst time, all at the same time, but that what makes the festival so great. Until next year, Bonnaroo.