Bonnaroo Music + Arts Festival just wrapped up 15 years of magic on the Farm in Manchester, Tennessee. Festival junkies, newbies, hippies, hipsters, hippie hipsters, the young and the old converged on this small town for four days of nonstop music, art, comedy, cinema, camping, good vibes and high-fives. Bonnaroo is the best weekend of the year. Every year. Always. Here are just some of the best things that happened at Bonnaroo 2016.
Best Bonnaroo Day Party: The Knocks
Saturday at 3:30 in the afternoon is hardly the easiest set time at Bonnaroo. Friday’s late night festivities extended well into Saturday’s morning hours, people were drained and it was scorching hot. That said, I love The Knocks and there was no way I was going to miss their upbeat and sunny dance vibes over in The Other Tent.
I caught The Knocks one time prior to this at the first installment of TomorrowWorld and it was one of the most standout sets of that weekend. Tucked away in a tiny forest stage, The Knocks were a welcome change from the 128 bpm big room sounds of the main stage and the 808 sub bass booming from the trap stage. Having this memory in the back of my head, I set off from my campsite, grabbed a beer in Centeroo and went to get my dance on.
Upon my arrival, I saw a small crowd mostly laying down on blankets under the Other Tent just to escape the brutal sunshine. I stepped over and around people to get a good spot for the set. The Knocks took the stage and I’m fairly sure their music actually saved some lives. Steadily, over their first few songs, people went from sitting down and nodding their heads to the beat, to having a full-on dance party! What a way to start the day!
Their set culminated with their hit “Classic” and included bringing out the members of the group Powers who make a guest appearance on the track. Unfortunately, Fetty Wap wasn’t around this time around. Listen to it, love it.
Best Bonnaroo Sunset Performance: Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab is a band that I largely ignored during their early years. I lumped them into a sea of nameless early 2000s emo bands—you know, the emo bands that had nothing to do with Rites of Spring. Still, over the last decade, I grew to enjoy the few of their songs that I recognized. I saw them in Atlanta around 2012 and was impressed by how many songs of theirs I knew and loved.
Counting myself as an actual fan now, I made a point to catch their set on What Stage on Sunday evening. A great combination of their older hits as well as track’s from their latest record Kintsugi was the perfect soundtrack for the final Bonnaroo sunset of the weekend.
Apparently, Chance the Rapper is a big fan of Death Cab and made a request. Never one to disappoint, singer Ben Gibbard grabbed an acoustic guitar and played “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” just for him. A stellar moment that was only eclipsed by the band closing their set with the title track to 2003’s Transatlanticism. Perfect.
Best Late Night Set at Bonnaroo: Big Grams
Following a handful of collaborations, Big Boi from Outkast and Phantogram teamed up to bring us Big Grams in September of 2015. The group proudly boast the hashtag #FestivalKillers on social media and they definitely live up to the hype.
I’ve been lucky enough to see Big Grams twice this year and both times, they’ve been absolutely amazing. To be fair, I would pay an embarrassing amount of money to listen to Big Boi rap over a blender, but throwing Josh and Sarah from Phantogram into the musical mix just takes everything to the next level.