Bonnaroo 2015 hit its second half in grand fashion yesterday (June 14) with an action-packed, marathon day of big time performances and zany collaborations. Mumford & Sons made good on their promise to return after cancelling as 2013 headliners, and pulled out a bunch of their friends for a rousing headlining set. Elsewhere, the Superjam! went until 4 a.m. and kept the collaborative spirit going strong.
Billboard’s Chris Payne and Dominick Grillo covered a lot of ground on Saturday (into the early hours of Sunday morning). Here is what they saw:
2:19 PM: Catfish and the Bottlemen have drawn a huge crowd at This Tent, and latecomers can scarcely find a spot beneath the overhang as the midday sun beats down. The band launches into “Kathleen,” with its streamlined pre-chorus and unhinged chorus.
2:33 PM: Two days into the fest and everybody’s feeling a bit grimy. “Raise your hand if you’re covered by dirt,” requests Monica Martin, the lead singer of indie folk outfit PHOX. “See?” You’re not alone!” Good to know there are more of us out there…
2:43 PM: On the side stage, Icelandic folk rockers Kaleo perform their first U.S. single “All the Pretty Girls,” with frontman Jökull Júlíusson wearing an impossibly-deep scoop v-neck as he shifts between warbly high notes and gravelly cries.
2:47 PM: “I feel like I’m sweating too much for someone who doesn’t dance,” notes Martin just before beginning the placid “Noble Heart.”
3:10 PM: A sun-kissed crowd is still grooving along to Songhoy Blues’ Malian prog jams at Which Stage. One last extended song of master guitar deviations around a catchy chorus wraps things up.
3:59 PM: Have you ever wondered what it would be like if a bluegrass band played speed metal songs? It’s awesome, but don’t take our word for it. Listen to “Feet and Bones,” by Trampled by Turtles.
4:32 PM: “I love the way you rise up,” purrs rising R&B songstress SZA (and an affiliate of Kendrick Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertaiment) as she twists her hips in time to the paint drying tempo of the music.
4:52 PM: After jumping onstage with Earth, Wind & Fire on Friday night and with his appearance at the evening’s Superjam! still to come, Chance the Rapper joins SZA to spit his guest verse on “Child’s Play.”
5:22 PM: As if any ‘Rooer could have forgot the sweltering heat, Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff and co. take their places onstage to the vocals from Annie‘s “Tomorrow:” “The sun will come out tomorrow.” Well, of course it will. It’s June in Tennessee.
5:25 PM: It’s thundering drums and stadium-ready pop perfection as “Like A River” brings the crowd to delirious heights.
5:50 PM: After an extended call-and-response with the audience, Bleachers dive right into a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”
6:26 PM: Is there a more glorious moment in War on Drugs’ set than watching the mood-rockers hit the monumental apex of “Under the Pressure”?
— Hannah Danielle (@sincerelyhannah) June 14, 2015
6:27 PM: The entire set is filled with Antonoff’s surprisingly Bruce-like manner of performing. It’s everything from using hand signals on stage, to introducing band members and letting them each take extended solos. Later, Antonoff continues the baller rock band tropes by throwing his guitar into the air until it breaks in half, and then tossing the pieces into the crowd.
7:28 PM: We’re guessing people didn’t come to Belle & Sebastian’s set expecting to see Jon Hamm toss gummy bears into Stuart Murdoch’s mouth. But they just saw it! He made it in on the second try, too.
7:53 PM: B&S leader Stuart Murdoch says his “crotch is hot,” but maintains the next song will be “more viriginal.” It’s “Piazza, New York Catcher,” and he describes how he wrote it about his wife, before they were married. Now that they’re together, he says he doesn’t write songs about her anymore.
8:07 PM: It’s that time in the Belle & Sebastian set — the time when Murdoch invites a few people to come onstage and dance and the place is completely overrun by barricade-hoppers. After a jammed-out rendition of “The Boy With the Arab Strap” ends, Murdoch and security somehow send the crowd along. Murdoch says “the stage was shaking precariously” and sends out some well-wishes: “I hope Dave Grohl gets better.” The band finishes up with two final songs: “The Blues Are Still Blue” and “Judy and the Dream of Horses.”
8:30 PM: Thoughts from a random ‘Rooer about Gary Clark Jr.’s musical skill: “It’s like he’s making love to the guitar.”
9:26 PM: “This song is about sex. If you like sex, I hope you like this song.” Childish Gambino blandly describes “The Worst Guys.”
9:48 PM: SZA is spotted in V.I.P. grooving to Childish Gambino’s “Telegraph Ave.”
9:52 PM: The first few “SLAYER!” chants erupt, about ten minutes before the metal legends are set to come onstage. Circle pits immediately open as they lead with “World Painted Blood.” Side note: Bonnaroo needs more metal.
12:00 AM: Mumford & Sons multi-instrumentalist Ben Lovett tips his hat to Jack Johnson for jumping in and headlining Bonnaroo in 2013, when his band had to cancel: “I think we are overdue a great thanks to Mr. Jack Johnson for two years back. He stepped in mighty well.”
12:16 AM: Marcus Mumford makes the Bonnaroo guests (and organizers!) blush: “I think this might be the best festival in America, if not the world!”
12:27 PM: Blink and you’ll miss it. After beginning the set alone on stage, Tycho’s band members begin to show up and add live instrumentation to Tycho’s chill grooves. The band doubles from a duo to a quartet in minutes.
12:36 AM: “Ed Helms really plays the banjo, ladies and gentlemen!” The ‘Roo regulars know this well (from the actor’s annual bluegrass jam seshes at the fest) but Marcus Mumford has to spread the word, just after playing “Awake My Soul” with him.
12:55 AM: For its closing song, Mumford goes with a cover… and a lot of famous friends. My Morning Jacket, Hozier, Danny Clinch, and Helms join the band onstage for a cover of “With a Little Help From My Friends.”
1:33 AM: The first surprises of the throwback dance party-themed Superjam have already arrived: Zach Galifianakis and Jon Hamm appear onstage to welcome the band and the audience. Check out their song below…
3:03 AM: Well, not all collabs are completely necessary. As Cherub’s Jordan Kelley sings lead on “Eye of the Tiger,” Corey Feldman runs onstage wearing a glitter-adorned jacket and filming himself with his smartphone.
3:10 AM: We have officially entered the EDM party at the Superjam!. Pretty Lights’ thundering remixes send waves of crazed dancing through the Other Tent.
3:25 AM: D.M.C. (of Run-D.M.C. fame) and Jordan Kelley join together with the Superjam! band for “Walk this Way.” Kelley can even pull off a passable Steven Tyler impression; the electronic artist completes the look by tying some scarves (a la Tyler’s style) around the mic stand.
3:45 AM: English soulman Jamie Lidell takes over lead duties for the first encore performance of the night, a rousing, more than eight minute rendition of Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long.”
4:00 AM: The roof of Other Tent is surprisingly still intact after the final song of the night, Montell Jordan’s classic party starter “This Is How We Do It,” gets everyone in the audience bouncing around.