At 2:00 AM, Ahmir " Questlove" Thompson slowly stepped away from his drum kit and turned his back to the crowd. He lingered for a few seconds, pushed his gaze slightly upward, and took a long, deep exhale before walking off the platform. For Questlove, the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on Saturday (June 9) had to be one of his most hectic yet fulfilling festival experiences of his life: not only did his band The Roots perform a particularly spry 90-minute set on the main stage, but as the curator of this year's Bonnaroo Superjam, the veteran drummer organized another hour and a half of funk music that featured members of The Time, Parliament Funkadelic… and in his first U.S. performance in too many years, D'Angelo. When the magic finally had to end in the wee hours of Sunday morning, the drummer deserved a second to soak in the day.
LIVE AT BONNAROO -- HIGHLIGHTS
Questlove might have been the MVP of Saturday at Bonnaroo, but his two performances were a small fraction of the highlights from Manchester, Tenn. Skrillex conjured glowstick explosions, Glen Danzig let his Legacy shine, Childish Gambino graduated to a larger stage after playing last year's fest, and headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers lived up to their Hall of Fame credentials, ripping off hit after hit while taking a few minutes to reach "Higher Ground" with a Stevie Wonder cover.
What did you miss at the penultimate day of Bonnaroo 2012? Check out these 10 things seen and heard:
1. After Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke gave a shout-out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers before playing "Reckoner" during the band's Friday night headlining set, RHCP bassist Flea gave props right back to his rock brethren. "Last night I was standing out there," he said, pointing to the massive What Stage field, "and Radiohead was so fucking beautiful!" Maybe Yorke was somewhere in the Chili Peppers crowd returning the favor -- after all, Radiohead had an off-day from their U.S. tour on Saturday.
2. When the Superjam finally concluded, fans of D'Angelo, Questlove and the rest of the dazzling performers began chanting "One more song!" But Quest quickly approached the mic and downplayed the possibility of an encore, with good reason. "We don't know any other songs!" Questlove said with a smile of his unique, one-time-only jam band. The drummer added that the contributors had rehearsed for six hours on Saturday to execute the jam, with the only break coming when The Roots performed their main stage set at 7:30 pm.
3. The inspired cover songs continued on Saturday, with the Punch Brothers riffing on Radiohead's "Kid A," the Roots taking on Kool & The Gang's "Jungle Boogie" and Flogging Molly putting forth an Irish punk version of "The Times They Are a-Changin'." Before the latter, Dave King told the crowd, "If you're gonna cover a song, it's gotta be fucking Bob."
4. After Major Lazer dropped the Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic" one night earlier, Skrillex continued the tributes to Adam "MCA" Yauch with a quick but potent remix of "Sabotage." Sonny Moore played the track while standing in a giant gray spaceship that expanded like the Megazord and emitted fumes during nearly every bass drop.
5. During a Danzig Legacy set that started 20 minutes late but melted many a face, Glen Danzig fittingly bemoaned "that other crap they play on the radio" before hitting the crowd with "Rebel Spirit," a song he also described as a "fuck-you to the government."
6. On Friday, California rock group Dawes were given the unfortunate opportunity to play against St. Vincent, Ludacris, Feist, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Foster The People at varying times. However, fans who missed them on Friday could catch them at the stripped-down Sonic Stage on Saturday -- and rumor has it that the group drew one of the biggest crowds in the tiny stage's history.
7. In 2011, the Cinema Tent gave NBA fans a venue to watch the climactic Game 6 of the Finals between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks. For Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between Miami and Boston on Saturday night, the Cinema Tent played... the Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup." Even Harpo would have something to say about that.
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers provoked some of the most haphazard funky-white-boy crowd dancing of the festival, but the best move of Saturday belonged to the guy in a yellow t-shirt and cargo shorts doing the running man while Battles played their proggy opus "Atlas," a song that it should be impossible to perform the running man to. The coolest piece of clothing of Saturday? A white tee seen in the press area that read, "WWPCD: What Would Pimp C Do?"
9. Dispatch may have been on hiatus for nearly seven years, but the reunited roots rockers returned bearing a gift to Bonnaroo fans: the band performed new track "Not Messin" for the first time live on Saturday night, after unveiling the song last month. The track precedes Dispatch's forthcoming album, "Circles Around The Sun," out in August.
10. Over the posted schedule of the dozens of daily performers adjacent to the What Stage, someone had written in graffiti the phrase, "Just Go With It." Whoever provided the spray paint should be commended for doing the Bonnaroo thing possible this weekend.