Photo by Jonathan Trundle / MTSU Seigenthaler News Service
MANCHESTER, Tenn. — Away from the main stage, the 16th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival concluded Sunday night with a star-studded Bluegrass Superjam featuring Martina McBride and bluegrass legend Bobby Osborne, with his-hop star Travis Scott closing the Which Stage.
Ed Helms hosts Martina McBride, Bobby Osborne in stellar Bluegrass Superjam
The stars were out in full force at the fifth annual Bluegrass Situation Superjam Sunday night at That Tent.
Actor-musician and Superjam originator and host Ed Helms, country star Martina McBride and bluegrass legend Bobby Osborne headlined one of Bonnaroo’s tried-and-true festival closers for the acoustic set.
In a news conference Sunday afternoon, Helms, best known as an actor in “The Hangover” franchise and TV’s “The Office,” said the group rehearsed the event for the first time this year, because in the past it had been a “cluster (expletive) in the best possible way.”
Practice paid off. The show went over without a hitch.
After traditional Bluegrass performances from Nashville-based Bryan Sutton Band, Helms, Mandolin Orange and Greensky Bluegrass, the crowd welcomed McBride’s cover of the Beatles’ “Blackbird.”
In another genre change, singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno delivered one of the best performances of the set, merging funk and bluegrass with her cover of Prince’s “Kiss.”
The biggest shock to the crowd was when the 85-year-old Osborne took the stage with his mandolin, performing three songs throughout the show.
In a nod to Tennessee, the group joined on stage to perform “Rocky Top,” the Felice and Boudleaux Bryant classic first made famous by Osborne and his late brother, Sonny Osborne, who recorded and performed as the Osborne Brothers. The crowd enjoyed the upbeat change, enthusiastically shouting “Woo!” in each chorus.
With all of the performers on stage, the superjam concluded with a powerful version of “God Bless the USA,” headed by Helms, with Moreno, a Guatemala native, singing a chorus in Spanish.
— Sarah Grace Taylor, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service
Travis Scott feathers his nest with rowdy set
Insanity is the only word that can best describe Travis Scott’s set Sunday night on Bonnaroo’s Which Stage.
Before the hip-hop star hit the stage more than 15 minutes after his scheduled slot, the thunderous sound of a bird’s cawing startled the audience. The set’s background, made of greenery and cages that looked like they belonged in Jurassic Park, promoted his latest album, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight.”
In the middle of his set, Scott offered to introduce the crowd to his friend, one that he claimed he hatched in his studio two years ago and had grown big enough to take on tour. The set moved, and behind a chain link wall appeared an enormous mechanical bird with luminous eyes.
Scott incorporated the aviary prop into the rest of his set, actually climbing it to perform a few songs.
Scott’s performance was rowdy and significantly more aggressive than his sound on record. His faithful audience constantly jumped and danced to the dark grooves that run under his beats.
At times it was hard to tell if this was rap crowd or a mosh pit.
Showing remarkable showmanship, the rapper took a stage dive, brought a fan on stage, and performed two of his songs from the scaffolding of the production tent.
A sentimental moment at the show came when Scott spotted a fan in a wheelchair, who was sitting near the front barrier of the stage. He hopped down to let her take a selfie and sang his song “Sweet Sweet” directly to her.
Scott ended his set strong, performing two of his most popular songs, “Antidote” and “Goosebumps.”
Exclaimed Scott, no doubt summing it up for many in the crowd: “This is the best time I’ve ever had at a festival.”
— Alexis Marshall, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service
Tasjan shows how music is still relatable
Festival goers took a second to cool off under That Tent Sunday afternoon to hear Nashvillian Aaron Lee Tasjan play for the first time at Bonnaroo.
“Who knew?” said Tasjan as he took a moment to thank his audience for their support.
Originally from Ohio, Tasjan played a number of songs from his repertoire, including “Get Gone” and “Little Movies.” Whether the fans were front and center dancing to “Ready To Die” or sitting back and enjoying “Hard Life,” the singer’s energy was ideal for both.
The midday heat didn’t stop Tasjan and his band from sporting coordinating blazers and dark sunglasses. At one point, the folk-rock artist also showed off his guitar skills, tearing into a solo in between songs.
His songs resonated with his audience, covering universal topics such as love in “Dime” and self-worth in “Success.”
Tasjan finished his set with a cover of Todd Snider’s “Hey Pretty Boy,” a song talking about the obstacles faced in the music industry and of coming back to being a normal, hometown person.
“My name is Aaron Lee, and I’m from right down the street,” Tasjan said, concluding his set with a final guitar solo.
— Jarron Parker, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service
Cam keeps the sunny side up on sweltering Which Stage
When performing on the more sun-drenched stages of Bonnaroo in midafternoon, it’s best to come prepared.
Country music artist Cam took the Which Stage Sunday afternoon at Bonnaroo, the singer’s signature yellow shirt matching the Sunflower stage backdrop behind her. Band members wore floral Hawaiian shirts.
Easygoing atmosphere established, the singer opened with her song “Mayday.” Later, she joked about being in the heat.
“All my people in the sun — what’s up?” Cam said, laughing.
Halfway through the show, sunglasses were handed out to audience members — neon yellow models with “Cam” written on the side. As fans — and her own bandmates — slipped them on, the singer broke out in a broad smile.
Later Cam belted out “Manhunt” and “Runaway Train,” which were closer to the rock side of country. The singer joked about having a country music mosh pit and acknowledged the headbangers in the audience.
“This is about as close to metal and country as you can get,” she said of “Manhunt.”
Cam closed the 45-minute set with “Burning House,” her Grammy-nominated breakout single, departing with a wave and a big smile on her face.
— Lacey Kanipe, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service