Saturday night at Bonnaroo ended much as Friday night did, with a bang, as headliner Jack Johnson must have hit every state line fireworks super center between California and Manchester for the giant display following his show. But that was just the capper to a long day of music that included performances by Two Gallants, The Lumineers, Lord Huron, Bjork, and more.
The day began with a stripped down acoustic performance by Portugal. The Man, followed by a press conference featuring that band’s Zach Carothers, Sam Margin from The Rubens, Warren Haynes from Gov’t Mule, The Mowglis’ Michael Vincze, and comedians Michael Winslow and Scott Aukerman.
Zach began by discussing Portugal. The Man’s special relationship with Bonnaroo, declaring it his favorite festival. He told the story of playing another festival where everyone went home because it was raining, exclaiming “I’ve never been to a Bonnaroo where there wasn’t mud!”
Other press conference highlights included Warren Haynes, who discussed the evolving nature of Bonnaroo and the young audience’s broader musical tastes before getting into a somewhat less philosophical “debate” with Auckerman about the usefulness of hyphens in the English language. Throughout this discussion, and most of the others during the press conferences, Michael “Man of 10,000 Sound Effects” Winslow, who made his career with the Police Academy films, provided hilarious effects to enhance the stories.
From there, it was time to kick of the musical day with a performance from Two Gallants. This California duo has been a long favorite of the Americana scene with intense songs like “Fly Low, Carrion Crow”, but showed off a little heavier side at their hour long Bonnaroo set. The duo pulled from throughout their catalog for more up tempo songs suitable for a daytime festival set.
Later in the day, indie folk bands Lord Huron and Matrimony performed intimate sets at the Sonic Stage. Both groups are young and just starting to get buzz but they made the most of it before a packed Sonic Stage audience, some of whom were left over from a wild JEFF the Brotherhood set earlier in the afternoon.
Over on What Stage, the always eccentric Icelandic songstress Bjork put on a pre-headlining performance that did nothing to lessen the eccentric tag. Even before the set began, Bjork told press that she would not allow the show to be photographed, going so far as to pass papers to some in the audience requesting they not take pictures either.
While Bjork may not like having her picture taken during a performance, as always she put on a show that had had numerous photo worthy moments. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a Bjork show is a set of encyclopedias. Coming on stage with over a dozen backup singers and two instrumentalists, Bjork and her entourage wore elaborate and unique costumes that showed she of the infamous “swan dress” was still able to turn heads with her wardrobe choices. That and the ever shifting video screens of landscapes and volcanoes set a visual canvas for Bjork’s spot on vocal gymnastics that soared throughout. Crowd interaction was minimal, primarily kept to heavily accented “Thank You! Tennessee!” calls. Bjork’s style of music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but her voice is still in fine form and she is the real theatrical spectacle that Lady Gaga aspires to be.
Starting 15 minutes before the end of Bjork’s set on Which Stage was The Lumineers. The third most “added” band on the Bonnaroo app behind Paul McCartney and Mumford & Sons, signs pointed to a seriously overcrowded show and those signs were correct. If anything, the Which Stage crowd was bigger than for Of Monsters and Men the day before. The Lumineers made the most of their big audience, cranking out their megahit “Ho, Hey” early in the set before moving on to other songs from their debut album.
For the first time since 2009, audiences had a choice of artists to see during the headliner position. Typically all but the New Music on Tap lounge stage shut down during the headliner but this year fans who didn’t want to see headliner Jack Johnson could head over to This Tent for a set from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
While the vast majority of Bonnaroo’s 80,000 attendees went to Johnson’s set, a respectably sized tent full chose to close out the main portion of the day with one of New Orleans’ most iconic jazz groups. Their hour long set was one big dance party. While some were likely on hand to get an inside position for the upcoming Rock and Soul Superjam, which Preservation Hall was part of, the band couldn’t ask for a more accessible audience for their music. The crowd especially came alive when Superjam leader Jim James came out for two songs with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to close out their set.
What was your favorite show of Saturday? Let us know in the comments section.