MANCHESTER, Tenn. — Day 2 of the 15th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival featured an undercard filled with rising stars of hip-hop, rap and soul world, along with late-night risings stars of psychedelic pop, dance music and electronica.
Aussies Tame Impala live up to hype
Late-night sets are always a key part of the Bonnaroo experience, with this year being no different. The most talked-about late set this year came courtesy of Tame Impala, an Australian psychedelic pop-rock band fronted by songwriter Kevin Parker.
At times sounding like an amplified version of the Beatles during their psychedelic period — Parker’s vocals sound eerily similar to John Lennon’s — the band provided trippy songs with visuals to match, including pulsating color effects on the screens and confetti showers during select tracks.
Kicking off well after midnight early Saturday on the Which Stage, Tame Impala played through fan favorites such as the guitar-driven “Elephant” and the vocoder-heavy “Let It Happen” and included the recent set list addition of “Daffodils,” a disco/funk-inspired track Parker wrote for Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Special” album.
As many Bonnaroovians headed back to camp to call it a night after 2 a.m., you could hear the band’s signature cut “Feels Like It Only Goes Backwards” echoing across the campgrounds, wrapping up Day 2 in a melodic, dreamlike fashion.
— John Connor Coulston, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @jccoulston
Chainsmokers close with Halsey’s help
Half past midnight early Saturday morning, Bonnaroo crowds found themselves revived from the unforgiving Friday heat with waves of electronic beats pouring from The Chainsmokers through throbbing speakers at the This Tent.
Budding into music stardom, The Chainsmokers consist of American DJs Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall, whose niche is producing trancing electronic dance music. The two had their big break in 2014 with the hit single “#Selfie.”
Since then, they have produced addictive elecrtro-pop mixes with some of today’s leading female vocalists, including Daya, ROZES and Charlee.
Fans gathered in front of stage festooned with neon balloons, glow sticks, body suits and what even appeared to be twinkling cotton candy while waiting to create light shows in synchronization with The Chainsmokers’ magnetic pulses.
The DJs brought their own technicolor light show, however, that outstretched This Tent and flashed over all of Centeroo.
Screams immediately exploded from fans as The Chainsmokers kicked off their performance with frantic scratching meshed with the lyrics to “Where You Been?” by 2 Chainz. They continued playing familiar mashups fans could sing along to, including remixes with lyrics from “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon, “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand, and “Ride” by Twenty One Pilots.
Even though The Chainsmokers played their recent hits, “Roses” and “Don’t Let Me Down,” they repeatedly urged the crowd to prove that they were “real fans” who enjoyed their music prior to those releases.
This command only revved up fans just before Taggart and Pall played a new track, during which they requested the help of fellow Bonnaroo artist Halsey to sing. Halsey immediately hopped on stage, and the trio cranked out The Chainsmokers’ original and fresh song “We Ain’t Never Getting Older” that was released for the first time at the Coachella festival in April.
After the band jammed to “Don’t Let Me Down” one last time, the crowd chanted for an encore, but the last flicker of neon stage lights signaled The Chainsmokers officially had said goodnight to Bonnaroo.
— Amanda Freuler, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @AmandaFreuler
French electronica group M83 shows diversity
The French group has been touring in support of their recent album “Junk,” which was released in April. Anthony Gonzalez heads the band as its primary songwriter and vocalist. Gonzalez has said “Junk” was inspired by music and television of the 1980s, and this influence was apparent throughout the band’s synth-driven, neon-tinged set.
Gonzalez and his bandmates played a wealth of fresh material from the new album as well as fan favorites from 2008’s “Saturday = Youth” and 2011’s critically acclaimed “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.” The infectious saxophone line of “Road Blaster” contrasted with the melodic yelps of the band’s hit song “Midnight City.”
Such musical diversity was present throughout the entirety of the band’s performance.
M83’s epic, swirling synths set the musical foundation for many standout moments. The band played an intense rendition of “Oblivion,” a grandiose pop piece written for the 2013 sci-fi film of the same name. Another memorable moment was the perfect precision of the electric guitar solo during “Go,” thus proving that M83 was here to do what many of the artists at Bonnaroo do best: be rock stars.
— Evan Dunne, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @RippedDanger
Rapper Tyler, the Creator banters, entertains
Tyler, the Creator leapt onstage, eyes wide, arms flailing and sporting his signature green hat, to make his first Bonnaroo appearance Friday night in front of a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at This Tent.
Bringing his trademark rebellious attitude to The Farm, the young leader of the Odd Future rap group was accompanied by fellow Odd Future members Taco and Jasper as the DJ and hype man, respectively.
Before Tyler erupted onto the stage, the crowd chanted “Golf Wang” and “Tyler” as they awaited the young rapper’s performance. The tension was as thick as the hot air surrounding the anxious crowd, and after Taco primed the audience by telling everyone to put their hands up, the crowd burst into a frenzy as Tyler opened with a wild performance of “What the (expletive) Right Now,” a single inspired by Kanye West’s “Freestyle 4” from his recent album “The Life of Pablo.”
Delivering the back-and-forth concert banter for which Tyler is known, he remarked that he “had underestimated Tennessee.” He went on to say that he wasn’t sure if anyone here would even know who he was, but the Bonnaroo fans convinced him otherwise with their enthusiastic appreciation.
He later said he “would find someway to get back here next year,” for Bonnaroo 2017.
As Tyler played both singles and tracks from across his discography, the crowd followed the lyrics perfectly, even singing some verses themselves at Tyler’s request. His pointing out people in the crowd and having conversations onstage played up to his nonchalant humor that makes his stage presence so entertaining.
The set progressed with fan favorites such as “Domo 23,” “She” and eventually Tyler’s first widely acclaimed hit, the gritty and aggressive “Yonkers.” The song was split into two versions, the first being Tyler’s altered lyrics and the second being the crowd’s faithful rendition of the original. He finished with “Tamale,” a fast-paced and erratic song that inspired the crowd to give their all as the set came to a close.
— Tanner Dedmon, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @TannerDedmon
Vince Staples leads off night’s hip-hop onslaught
In what will be remembered as a powerhouse display of hip-hop performances Friday night at Bonnaroo, rapper Vince Staples was the one to initiate the viscerally energetic tone that would transpire throughout the remainder of the evening.
In a night that saw hip-hop artists such as J.Cole, Tyler, the Creator, Bryson Tiller and even a guest appearance by “it” kid Chance the Rapper, it was Vince Staples who brought forth the youthful, rebellious nature of hip-hop to the lively Bonnaroo crowd in his Friday night slot at the This Tent.
“We’re going to have a good time tonight, everybody,” Staples proclaimed to the crowd. “I’m going to need you to bounce with me.”
Opening up his set with “Lift Me Up,” a single from his debut album “Summertime ’06,” immediately brought the crowd into a fervor. The record explores Staples perspective on being a young, black man in America, expressing his frustrations on constantly being abused and neglected by society and pleading for someone to lift him above those looking to bring him down.
Hailing from Long Beach, Calif., the 22-year-old rapper, although known for his dry sense of humor, rarely engaged in trivial chit-chat with the crowd. He opted instead to use as much time as he could in his hour-long set delving into his catalog and establishing a personal connection with the audience through his lyrics, which are ofttimes bluntly chilling in their delivery.
When Staples did address the crowd, however, it was in a humorously playful tone. He told the crowd how pleasantly surprised he was arriving at The Farm for the first time.
“There is so many friendly white people,” he said, presumably at least half-jokingly.
Vince closed the set with his breakthrough single “Blue Suede” from his “Hell Can Wait” EP, the record that garnered him so much attention in the first place and solidifying himself as an artist for whom to keep a close eye on.
Before leaving the stage, Vince walked up in front of the rambunctious crowd and jumped into their outstretched hands. The crowd preceded to lift him up, thereby completing the mission Staples set forth at the beginning of his set. On a night filled with hip-hop heavyweights, at this moment, Staples rose above all.
— Evan Brown, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service
Leon Bridges brings the new soul
Acclaimed young soul singer Leon Bridges delivered a smoothly passionate performance to fans young and older who packed The Other Tent Friday night.
The Fort Worth, Texas native began his set with “Smooth Sailin’,” a rhythmic track that set the tone for the night and transported the crowd from Manchester, Tenn. to New Orleans and back again.
Although only 26 years old, Bridges’ songs construct a vibe of a time passed. His music remains deeply influenced by tunes of the 1950 and 1960s.
With a humble beginning of playing shows at open mic nights, Bridges has graduated from being a dishwasher to quickly becoming a household name among soul fans, selling out Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium this spring and playing at festivals such as Sundance Film Festival and SXSW.
Crowd favorites included Bridges’ hit single, “Coming Home” and an old-school cover of Ginuwine’s 1996 R&B banger “Pony.”
— Brinley Hineman, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @_briiindle
GRiZ mixes old school with electronica
Bonnaroo 2016’s lineup is full of electronica artists and various DJs; GRiZ made sure to stand out from the rest.
The electronic producer also known as Grant Kwiecinski brought the heat to Bonnaroo at his early Friday night set at the Which Stage. The Michigan-born artist is known for his fusion of saxophone with electronic beats, which in turn creates a soulful funk sound.
What makes GRiZ unique is his blend of old with new. This defines his studio work and spices up his live show.
After a few original beats, James Brown’s “Get On Up” got a fresh remix for the ages, flowing into a saxophone melody. GRiZ’s stage mates played guitar as he DJed, intertwining organic, old-school rock elements with modern EDM.
The set stopped about a third of the way through due to technical difficulties, so the band called upon Jessie Arlen, which is featured heavily on the 2015 release “Say It Loud,” to come out and sing a rendition of “Over the Rainbow.”
After the lull was over, the show resumed with the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song ending in a dramatic bass drop and smooth vocals, inciting the largest reaction from the audience of the evening.
The dancing continued with a sax-fueled version of the rock classic “Shout.” GRiZ’s set concluded with a brand new song that had the fans jamming along just as the sun began to set.
— Olivia Ladd, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @LivSlaton
Shires holds her own on smaller stage
Armed with a powerful voice and a fiddle, Nashville-based country artist Amanda Shires proved that Bonnaroo isn’t just about the big shows at her New Music on Tap Lounge early evening set Friday.
The small stage, usually reserved for up-and-coming artists, competes with the festival’s second-largest stage close by. The Texas native had the area to herself for most of the show but was later forced to turn it up a notch when GRiZ’s DJ set began a few hundred yards away.
“I’m really super glad y’all are all here right now,” Shires said. “There’s nowhere in the world better to be.”
Shires’ set relied heavily on her 2013 studio album, “Down Fell The Doves,” recorded with the assistance of now-husband Jason Isbell as well as Todd Snider. Shires occasionally swapped her fiddle for an acoustic guitar while she powered through her set, including tracks such as “Devastate,” “Wasted and Rolling” and “Look Like a Bird.” To top off her performance, she tried out a couple of new songs off her upcoming record, due in September.
Shires isn’t a new face at ‘Roo, having performed alongside Justin Townes Earle and Isbell in previous years. She’ll also be part of the Bluegrass Situation SuperJam featuring Ed Helms and friends at 8:15 p.m. Sunday. And if that’s not enough, she’ll likely be a part of husband Isbell’s What Stage star set Sunday, as well.
— Dylan Aycock, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @dylskye
Colorful MisterWives brings Big Apple to big stage
“Pure Imagination” is not the kind of song you’d expect to hear at Bonnaroo, but that’s exactly what New York City-based indie pop band MisterWives walked (danced, rather) out to for their late-afternoon set Friday at the sprawling What Stage.
With a background of a colorful elephant, octopus and dinosaur and a flower-wrapped drum kit, the colorful scene felt like it was ripped from a glow-in-the-dark paint rage party. Singer Mandy Lee and band members William Hehir, Marc Campbell, Etienne Bowler, Jesse Blum and Mike Murphy obviously came to the ‘Roo ready to entertain.
“Playing Bonnaroo has been our biggest dream, and we owe it to each and every one of you,” said Lee before performing “Our Own House,” title track of their debut album and the last song of the night. “Now we want to see how Tennessee holds it down.”
To summarize the set of MisterWives in three words: It. Was. Fun.
— Sara Snoddy, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @Sara_Snoddy
St. Lucia shows his ’80s influence
Synth-pop newcomer Jean-Philip Grobler, known by his stage name St. Lucia, grabbed the attention of festival goers at the Which Stage Friday afternoon.
Opening the hourlong set with “Rescue Me,” a jam laced heavily with ’80s influence, the South African born-and Brooklyn-based St. Lucia cranked out banger after banger with the aid of his band, pausing briefly to thank the crowd and meekly admitting his thrill at being onstage at Bonnaroo.
“I’m deeply excited inside,” he said.
St. Lucia kept the stage talk to a minimum, instead focusing his efforts on a different form of crowd connection by physically entering the swarm of lively people to perform part of “Love Somebody,” pausing to sing on a fan’s Snapchat, which earned him a slide in Bonnaroo’s Snapchat story.
Crowd favorite and hit single “Physical” highlighted St. Lucia’s focus on creating ‘80s-inspired pop infused with electronic influences.
— Brinley Hineman, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @_briiindle
Andra Day starts Day 2 in soulful style
The words, “Is anyone feelin’ soulful today?” followed by a massive outcry from the crowd, marked soul singer Andra Day’s appearance at the Which Stages she began one of the first sets on a very packed musical day Friday.
Based in Los Angeles, Day has had a very busy last couple of years. Recording a cover of Jessie J’s hit “Mamma Knows Best” skyrocketed her to internet fame as it peaked at No. 2 on the YouTube Music Charts. Warner Bros. Records took notice and soon released her debut album “Cheers to the Fall” in August 2015.
On stage, the 31-year-old looked like a stripped-down version of her usual Billie Holiday-esque persona, complete with her signature do-rag but without the fur frills. The singer’s recent live performances include the 2016 Grammys, and she recently took part in a tribute to Muhammad Ali with John Legend at Spike TV’s “Guys Choice 2016” on June 4.
Her voice was no worse for the recent wear.
Slowly, people began trickling in to see her, like bees drawn to the honey-sweet sound of her piercing, cabaret-ready voice.
“For me, I like this to be a conversation,” said Day at the end of her first song, “Forever Mine.” “See? We’re talkin’ now, and I like to talk about my influences. Any Nina Simone fans?”
Her wailing notes carried throughput “Honey or Fire,” a fitting title for the juncture between her powerful voice and her mesmerizing stage persona. Day reassured the crowd that she’d be back.
“Ya’ll are family now, a part of the team,” she said. “So I guess I’ll have to do shows out here all the time.”
— Sara Snoddy, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @Sara_Snoddy
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To contact Lifestyles Editor Olivia Ladd email firstname.lastname@example.org.