Review | Photos | Day 3 | Bonnaroo | Tennessee

Words & Images By: L. Paul Mann

Day 3 :: Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival :: 6.13.13 :: Manchester, TN

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The third day of the 2013 Bonnaroo music festival heated up early under hot clear skies, with little remaining of the gusty winds that prevailed during the first two days. By afternoon, hordes of music fans were looking for wet relief anywhere they could find it. Long lines snaked around the festival for the cherished air conditioned venues, including the comedy tent, cinema tent, and the Ford Fiesta Garage, which featured bonus sets all day long, from bands playing the festival. The Bonnarro fountain was filled to capacity with naked bodies. A giant water slide attracted a long line of daredevils that slid, surfed and cartwheeled down the steep slippery slope. Nearby others lined up for a deluxe slip and slide ride. Overlooking the water world of wonder, were sand volley ball courts, packed with players, seemingly oblivious to the 11 stages of music around them. But while thousands relaxed and soaked up the sunny day, tens of thousands of others were circulating back and forth amongst the stages, looking a bit like worker ants from competing colonies. Day 3 was full of eclectic moody music form across the globe. If there was any one theme for the day it was collaboration. There were so many impromptu jams from the early afternoon to the pre dawn hours, it was impossible to keep track of them. Some of the highlights included: The Lumineers, who seemed to be channeling the spirit of the canceled headliners of the day Mumford and Sons, played multiple sets. They played as surprise guests with traditional music favorites Ed Helms' Lonesome Trio, as part of Helms' Whiskey Sour Radio Hour at the Comedy tent. While The Lumineers were on the massive Which Stage, Portugal The Man played a unique impromptu jam in front of the fountain. (I am still not sure why there was a giant question mark above the Which stage, when the largest main stage was called the What stage, just another ROO mystery I guess.) Afterward when Portugal The Man took their turn on the Which stage, they were joined by a most unusual guest, Weird Al Yankovic for the song “So American”. Jack Johnson, who had come to Bonnaroo just to be a surprise guest the first night, for his long time friends ALO, ended up taking over the headline set for the canceled Mumford And Sons. It was hard to tell how many in the immense crowd had come expecting to hear Mumford And Sons. Some of them may have been disappointed but many more music fans seemed to be thrilled with the choice. Johnson's career has appeared to parallel with the success of Bonnaroo. He made his first appearance during the premiere of Bonnaroo in 2002. He played the main Which Stage in 2005, before returning as the headliner in 2008. He also did a memorable acoustic jam with his long time friend Eddie Vedder (From Pearl Jam who also headlined that year). So he was probably the only logical choice to take over a headline slot at the prestigious festival at the very last minute. Of course, his set featured guest performances as well, from ALO to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Crowd at Bonnaroo

While most festival goers were still at the main stage, enthralled by a massive fireworks show that followed Johnson's set, the legendary midnight hour had begun on the other side of the festival with five near simultaneous sets of unique epic proportions. R. Kelly began his much anticipated set just before midnight, on the Which stage. He began his set with an appearance high above the crowd on a towering crane, rising sixty feet in the air, while a Sunday dressed choir appeared below him. He then came down from the heavens to play a nearly two hour, explosive set filled with his biggest hit songs. Meanwhile, legendary rocker Billy Idol sneered his way into the hearts of adulate fans when he played That Tent with his band of veteran rockers. The larger than life rock “idol” whipped the crowd into a frenzy. A completely different but no less talented musician sang his sarcasm drenched knock offs to a delighted crowd also at midnight. Weird Al Yankovic may be a comedian on the surface, but he is an accomplished musician at heart, taking up several instruments during his spirited performance Also at midnight was the much celebrated, iconic SUPERJAM, which this year featured the largest collaboration ever at Bonnaroo. Included were all of the billed performers, Jim James, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Zigaboo, Modeliste, and Larry Graham. They were also joined by surprise guests, Billy Idol , R, Kelly and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes. The last act to be added to Bonnaroo this year (Well second to last counting Jack Johnson), was on the tiny solar stage also at midnight. The 365 performance featured Soul Khan, Jenny Suk, Knower, and Black Violin. Considering the immense competition on the main stages it was amazing at how large a crowd this amalgamation band attracted. The music, a blend of EDM, Hip Hop, and classical music was one of the most unique sets at the festival. Led by the Black Violins, a pair of violinists who looked more like professional football players, the group dazzled the crowd with their unique dance infused sound. It was time to savor some late night food like fresh french toast stuffed with a fried egg and bacon at Dave's cafe. (Although most preferred a custom order of mini fried donuts). It washed down nicely with one of several of the IPA's available in the Broo'ers Tent.

Late night music lovers still had much to look forward to after the midnight sessions were over. Empire of The Sun put on a dazzling 2am show, which can only be described as performance theater rock. Looking much like a Broadway production, Luke Steele, appears as some sort of Aztec rock guitar god, while his partner Nick Littlemore, leads the Sydney band into mesmerizing EDM dance rock beats. All the while dancers that looked like they would be more at home at a Bjork concert flitted about the stage. At 2.30 am DJ Boys Noize began one of the most hard core EDM sets of the festival, whipping up late night fans into a sweating dancing frenzy. Meanwhile, at the same time another jam session was beginning, when “Bustle In Your Hedgerow” took the stage, joined for awhile by Brittany Howard, who seemed to favor the late night jam sessions. Although not as iconic in scope and personal wise as the SUPERJAM, this may have been the defining jam set of Bonnaroo 2013 for many. The core band features four jam band veterans who perform their own remixes of Led Zeppelin classics. The group played nothing less than an awesome two hour and twenty two minute set that stretched into the first light of day four at Bonnaroo. The intense jams never let up until the last note of Heartbreaker could be heard echoing though the now near empty Centeroo.

Check out L. Paul Mann's coverage of Day 1 of Bonnaroo

Check out L. Paul Mann's coverage of Day 2 of Bonnaroo

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[Published on: 6/18/13]

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