Having to perform at Bonnaroo the day after the likes of Childish Gambino and Solange would leave most acts sweating, especially after the former’s rapturous display. Luckily, the Saturday performers were more than up for the challenge.
Hip indie band Hippo Campus took the Which Stage in the mid-afternoon and delivered a confident and energetic performance, their soaring and accessible music translating well to a live show. The prototypical daytime festival act, the band puts forth music that seems perfectly crafted for an upbeat afternoon. Check out The Daily’s post-show interview with the band here.
One of the most highly-anticipated sets at Bonnaroo was that of pop-country starlet and Grammy Award winner Kacey Musgraves. Musgraves opened with the soul-stirring “Slow Burn.” “In Tennessee / the sun’s going down,” she sang as the sky faded to a pinkish afterglow. After the first few songs, she had already won over those in the crowd who weren’t familiar with her work, including a group of jersey-clad guys in front of me who originally expressed that they wanted to leave early to get spots for ODESZA’s later show.
I haven’t been a part of such a passionate crowd all weekend. In the first half of Musgraves’s set, she could barely get a sentence out without the crowd erupting into cheers. During her songs, the entire audience was singing along to every word.
Toward the end, she jumped into a touching cover of “Do You Realize??” by the Flaming Lips, a song that makes perfect sense in a Kacey Musgraves set — a simple, spacey reflection on life and love. She closed with “High Horse” supported by some colorful drag queens dancing beside her as confetti rained down from the sky. It felt right, the perfect time and place for her to perform.
Up next on the itinerary was ODESZA, a group that has recently become known as a must-see live act; they had the honor of being the only electronic act given a slot on either of the main stages all weekend. They opened with “Intro / A Moment Apart” which transitioned directly into “Bloom,” a sequence of songs made seraphic by excellent production value: intricate lighting, gorgeous visuals and the supplementation of a live drumline and brass section turned their show into a transcendent spectacle.
The set wasn’t flawless. Something felt off with the bass, as though the ground-rumbling frequencies had been carved out of the mix — granted, I was fairly far from the stage, but they definitely should have carried further. Fortunately ODESZA’s cinematic style of EDM is still enjoyable even without a strong low end.
As I left ODESZA, I passed by the Other (the stage dedicated to electronic music) during Space Jesus’s set. On the outskirts of the crowd were a few people who wore gloves with multicolored LED lights on the fingertips, giving personal hand-dancing light shows to passing ravers. A man on the receiving end of one of these shows stared into the lights, wearing a look of pure wonder. A crowd had assembled nearby to watch a girl with a glowing hula hoop perform acrobatics; about a dozen of them sat on the flattened grass gazing at the lights, the rest of their surroundings forgotten.
Next up was comedy-rap group The Lonely Island. Their set consisted of a satisfying mix of new comedic bits and their old classics — Shy Ronnie performed “Sicko Mode”; Chris Parnell made a surprise appearance for “Lazy Sunday”; a Justin Timberlake puppet sang “Dick In A Box.” I think their old comedy, once the pinnacle of humor to many middle schoolers like myself, hasn’t aged particularly well, but it was still enjoyable for its nostalgia.
Leaving the bathroom at around 3:30 a.m., I was stopped by a gruff staff member who reminded me that it was Father’s Day tomorrow. He told me that as a father of five, what he treasures the most are the notes his kids have written for him over the years. He handed me a pen.
I pocketed the pen and continued on my way to the only remaining source of light and sound: Kalliope. Kalliope hosted surprise sets from the end of the scheduled shows at 3:15 a.m.until sunrise. The three hours I spent there were a blur of pyrotechnics, house music and one of the strangest crowds I’ve ever been a part of. We left for our tents right after the sun rose. There were hundreds of people still active as we walked back, both in Centeroo and the campground. Many were waking up, ready to start their day. I don’t think there’s a time of day when the party stops. Bonnaroo never sleeps.