The Lumineers shocked the tens of thousands of people in their audience by performing their hit "Ho Hey" as the fourth song of their set. With the cancellation of Mumford and Sons (and a general sense of ambivalence by many to new headliner Jack Johnson), I almost got the sense that the Lumineers had unofficially taken over the mantle of Saturday headliner. I know this may not be the hip thing to say, but of the five or six songs I got to catch from that set, the Lumineers got the job done. Their communal sing-alongs and southern roots (even if they're actually from Colorado) filled the void a lack of "I Will Wait" and "Little Lion Man" placed in everyone's hearts. People have dismissed the Lumineers as Mumford-lite, but after last night, I think everybody should examine them again.
Although I didn't attend a single performance as transcendent as Sir Paul McCartney, my Saturday Bonnaroo experience was leagues ahead of what I saw on Friday. I was only able to stay for a handful of full sets (I was running around like a chicken with his head cut off in the hellish heat taking pictures), but even the snippets I saw of all of the sets I caught were simply astounding. In a day where you shoot Cults, Solange, Nas, Matt & Kim, Beach House, the Lumineers, Jack Johnson, R. Kelly, and "Weird" Al Yankovic, it's simply beyond imagination that you couldn't have an excellent time.
Cults and Solange were my first two sets of the day and I managed to stay for all of both of those excellent sets. Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion may not have the best stage presence (Madeline just sort of frolics around stage like she's in a 1960s girl group), but the numbers from Cults
sound as uplifting and fun live as they do on the album. "Go Outside," "Abducted," and "Oh My God" were pure fun. Solange's set was very short; she was only scheduled to play 55 minutes but she probably played 10-15 minutes less than that. However, "Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work" is now the best R&B song I've ever seen live. She covered the Dirty Projectors and played during Grizzly Bear on Friday. Solange is making her own mark in sophisticated pop/R&B fusion. Mark it.
For the rest of the day (until Weird Al), I jumped around shooting band after band. Nas's numbers from Life Is Good
sound as good now as they did when I reviewed the album last summer, and "Accident Murderers" and "The Don" are real crowd-killers. I have to take back my comment from Thursday that I had never seen a band have as much fun on stage as Walk the Moon because Brooklyn rockers Matt & Kim took insanity to a whole 'nother level. At one point, Kim Schifino jumped on her drum kit and told the crowd that she wanted people to have sex while crowd surfing (an act of physical impossibility that I almost wanted to witness). She smacked her ass wildly later and even gave the classic D-Generation X "suck it" sign with her drum sticks. Their energy was manic almost to the point of schizophrenic, but the massive crowd at The Other Tent meant that they were clearly slaying the crowd. Hell, they even covered "Push It" by Salt 'n' Pepa to huge applause.
Matt and Kim
was one of the undisputed best records of last year, and it seems like Beach House only seems to get better with each record. Watching Victoria Legrand just stand behind her keyboard while Alex Scally also fiddled with keyboards and other technical instruments isn't particularly exciting, but even three years removed from Teen Dream
, there have been few songs since as beautiful as "Norway." For all of the kids on drugs at the festival (and trust me, there are plenty), Beach House provided the soothing trip they needed.
Unlike Paul McCartney, Jack Johnson actually allowed open access for photographers into the photo pit. And although I'm not a fan of Jack Johnson's "surfer pop/preppie stoner/weekend hippie" music, for the people that actually attended the set (which was a far cry from the 100,000 there for Paul McCartney), they were screaming during every song. I honestly couldn't name any of his songs because I'm not a surfer and I don't smoke the reefer required to properly appreciate his music, but he did do covers of "The Cave" by Mumford, "The Joker" by Steve Miller Band, and "Just What I Needed" by The Cars. And the hardcore Jack Johnson fans ate every second of it up.
I didn't stay much for R. Kelly (cause I had to run all the way to "Weird" Al) but what I saw of his set was as over-the-top and excessive as you could possibly want from the man. Before R. Kelly himself took the stage, a full-blown gospel choir in red robes came out to do part of "Ignition." It was a very Yeezy move from Kelly who eventually came out himself to perform "Ignition" and several other hits before they kicked the photographers out of the pit. It was clear that an R. Kelly show is an experience and I'm looking forward to actually watching an R. Kelly show in the future.
The "best set of the day" award though goes to "Weird" Al Yankovic. As a disclaimer, I might know all of the words to a healthy portion of his discography, but "Weird" Al's set last night was practically perfect. Out of his most notable songs, I can think of two or three he didn't perform, but in a setlist that included "White & Nerdy," "Canadian Idiot," "Ebay," and "Polka Face," nobody had room to complain. He had more costume changes than a Lady Gaga concert which was appropriate considering the peacock/turtle/alien outfit he wore for "Perform This Way." He rolled out on a segway for "White & Nerdy," put on the fat suit for "Fat," and even donned a jedi's robes for "Yoda."
"Weird" Al Yankovic
It's no stretch to say that "Weird" Al has been my second favorite set of the festival behind Paul McCartney. I watched the show with one of my fellow journalists, and as we both walked back to the press trailer, we kept saying "oh my god" and "holy s***." We were on a "Weird" Al high and although I was exhausted to the point of delirium before his show, I was so pumped afterwards that I couldn't sleep even though it was 2 AM and I hadn't slept well in days. "Weird" Al is a show you should catch when he comes to town.
"Weird" Al Cont'd