By the third day of Bonnaroo (June 15), patrons of the Manchester, Tenn. fest were starting to get into the swing of things. After a couple days on the grounds, the masses were beginning to get more accustomed to the setting around them, finding their way around, and interacting as a community on the sun-drenched farm. It was the weekend’s hottest day yet, leaving some midday performances particularly tense and sweaty. News continued to spread of Mumford and Sons’ cancellation as the night’s headliner, though replacement Jack Johnson and show-stopper R. Kelly (who could have easily headlined himself) kept the ‘Roo crowd loose, relaxed, and ready to party long into the night.
| BONNAROO PHOTOS
• Bonnaroo Webcast: Watch Live
• Saturday: Jack Johnson Honors Mumford & Sons
• Paul McCartney, Passion Pit Rule Friday
• Jack Johnson Talks Last-Minute Set
• Thursday Recap: Haim, Killer Mike & more
• Full Bonnaroo Coverage
Click here to read a full recap of Johnson’s headlining set, and check out Billboard’s 10 things seen and heard on the third day of ‘Roo 2013 below:
1. R. Kelly busted out his catalog of hits at Bonnaroo on Saturday night, from “Ignition (Remix)” to “I Wish” to “I’m a Flirt (Remix).” But for “I Believe I Can Fly,” the R&B crooner had something special at the Which Stage: white, inflatable doves adorned the black sky as Kellz delivered the climactic final bars. Fake birds: one of the many ways in which a stage show can be enhanced thanks to an outdoor setting.
Bonnaroo 2013 Video
2. Bjork only uttered a few words to the What Stage crowd during her pre-headliner Bonnaroo set on Saturday night — “Thank you,” “Tennessee!” and “It’s getting dark” among them. But the Icelandic avant-pop artist didn’t need to say much in between songs in order to present a rapturous, altogether thrilling performance highlighted by career-spanning tracks like “Pagan Poetry,” “Bachelorette,” “Hyperballad” and “Crystalline.” During each song, a particularly Bjork-ian visual would appear on the video monitors: for “Hidden Place,” dozens of starfish were shown devouring a degenerating hunk of dead meat, while “Joga” featured a geographical map of Iceland depicted within Bjork’s chest cavity.
3. “Weird Al” Yankovic’s set isn’t quite like anyone else’s. Just like his career, his concert is like a smart-alecky trip through the pop culture of the past four decades, with Al’s schoolboy, PG-13 rated humor guiding the way. There were rapid-fire moments in his set that included a single verse and chorus of each song (almost like a hip-hop show) and then the essentials — “Amish Paradise, “White and Nerdy”, “Perform This Way” — which got full-song treatment. There were numerous costume changes, during which Al and his band retreated backstage, leaving a montage of Al’s video hi-jinx to entertain the audience. These videos included a pieced together mock interview with Megan Fox in which Yankovic denounced the actress’ entire career and Al’s cameos over the years in shows like “Friends,” “The Cleveland Show,” and “Jeopardy!” The old favorite had the crowd in a tizzy by the one-song encore — “Yoda,” to the tune of the Kinks’ “Lola,” with the band in Jedi gear.
4. While Kanye West and Kim Kardashian welcomed a baby girl into the world on Saturday (June 15), Yeezy’s pal Nas also celebrated the birth of his daughter in a very public way during his main stage performance at Bonnaroo. “Today’s my daughter’s birthday,” said the 39-year-old MC. “She’s 19 today. That’s crazy!” And with that, the rapper launched into his “Life is Good” highlight “Daughters.”
5. The day’s most blissfully serene set was almost interrupted by a moment of unforeseen madness. As the dreampop trio Beach House neared completion of its set, a rogue, shirtless fan fought security in an effort to storm the stage, and had to be hauled off by four guards, each grabbing a writhing limb. Moments after being brought side stage, the hooligan somehow eluded security again and made one last dash during the closing notes of Beach House’s final song, only to be restrained once more.
Aggressors aside, the Baltimore-based band played a gorgeous set as the Saturday sun faded into dusk. Though some might write them off as a tedious live act, there’s boundless splendor in the live rendition of Beach House’s music for those willing to get lost in it. Frontwoman Victoria Legrand’s hazy vocals and expansive synth journeys along with Alex Scally’s impenetrable guitar sheen encased some beautiful songs, mainly from their last two albums, “Teen Dream” and “Bloom.” Legrand reflected on her band’s first Bonnaroo performance and counted her blessings: “All day long we’ve been wanting to play music, and you’re here. This is not a normal life; it’s a gift.”
6. After appearing in Friday night’s Hip-Hop Superjam and collaborating onstage with Grizzly Bear, Solange was back at it on Saturday, as her short and sweet set was an early highlight. With the afternoon sun beating down, the singer and her stylish backing band (who looked like the summer spread from an urban fashion magazine) kept the onlookers relatively cool with their breezy, tropical R&B. Distancing herself from her past work, Ms. Knowles stuck to her recent “True” EP, closing with its balmy single “Losing You.” Also tossed in was her cover of Dirty Projectors’ “Stillness Is the Move.”
7. Despite being 35 minutes late to their set, Empire of the Sun’s crowd never wavered, and soaked in the gonzo electro-pop act past the 3:00 AM mark on Sunday morning. As Nick Littlemore pounded away on his drum kit, the Australian duo’s backup dancers continued to swap costumes, showing up as robots, aliens and angels, among other guises.
8. Always a welcome festival attraction, experimental Brooklynites Dirty Projectors played a 5:15 PM set beneath This Tent’s roof. In between avant garde rock songs, frontman Dave Longstreth’s inner music fan shined, as he curiously asked how Paul McCartney was the night before and then proclaimed what a great time he had playing alongside Kanye West at Governors Ball the previous weekend. Set-wise, the Dirty Projectors favored last year’s “Swing Lo Magellan” LP, though they tossed in a few favorites from 2009’s “Bitte Orca.” Their breakout song “Stillness Is the Move” had already been covered by Solange, but the choral background provided by singers Amber Coffman, Olga Bell, and Haley Dekle made it a highlight nonetheless.
9. In a press conference in the media tent alongside Reggie Watts and Johnny Fritz, country veteran Dwight Yoakam discussed the genesis of “Take Hold of my Hand,” the lead track on his 2012 album “3 Pears.” Before Yoakam quickly finished the track with co-writer Kid Rock, “Take Hold of My Hand” apparently had been kicking around in Yoakam’s songwriting notebook for two decades. “That song took 20 years and three hours to write,” Yoakam told the crowd with a laugh.
10. Kieran Hebden — the trippy English DJ known as Four Tet — gave fans of the cerebral side of electronic music something to vibe to during his late afternoon set. Though some early selections were truly ambient, others strutted some more infectious grooves for those bobbing along at the Other Tent.