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LIVE: BONNAROO 2017 – June 8-11, 2017

City: Manchester, TN

Date: June 8-11, 2017

Review and Photographs by: Jeffrey Everett

Bonnaroo kicked off season 16 under immense pressure following the all time low attendance of 45,000 last year. The organizers decided not to rest on their laurels and came out swinging. First, they locked down U2 for their first appearance in an American festival.  The Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Weekend completed the solid headliner lineup. The Other Tent was converted to open-air stage dedicated to EDM and hip-hop acts to appeal to a different fan base. The Other Stage’s lights, giant screen and disco ball made a unique experience and clearly was one the spotlights of the festival. A variety of ticket options were available this year including GA, VIP, and a new Platinum package to take things to a whole new level. All together these changes saw Bonnaroo get back to form with attendance of 65,000. We were also blessed with perfect weather; seasonally cool for Tennessee. The days were in the 70’s-80’s and nights in the 50’s. I did I mention no rain? After a Spring with day after day of rain showers, the clouds parted for the festival.

Thursday night got things started at the tent stages. New and trending acts are the staple for opening night. July Talk, Mondo Cozmo, and the Orwells put on killer shows. Luke Combs brought some variety to the evening with some down home country. Haywyre and Ookay got the revamped Other stage off to a solid start.

The main stages opened Friday with nonstop powerhouse acts in a variety of genres. Klangstof from Amsterdam rocked the Which stage to get things started. They took a minute after the show to say hello and pose for a photo in the media area. Swedish singer LEON who just released a new EP For You, opened the main What stage after a stop in the media area where she was kind enough to have a quick photo. Other notable performances were the Strumbellas, Cold War Kids,  and Kaleo. Walker Lukens from Austin played solid set at the Who stage. He later came by to say hello and pose for a photo. Tove Lo did her provocative show including her signature flashing the crowd during “Talking Body.”  The XX and Glass Animals were amazing in their evening slots leading up to U2. That gets us to 11 PM and the 30 year anniversary of the Joshua Tree.  U2 Opened with “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “New Years Day”, and then “Pride” before playing the Joshua Tree in its entirety.  Fireworks went off in the distant as show winded down. Bono paused and watched as the sky was filled with light. He said “What an extraordinary thing Bonnaroo is. Thank you for naming it after me.” Their show was nothing short of magical and needing a homerun, Bonnaroo hit a grand slam with their presence. The night was far from over when they finished at 1 AM. Portugal the Man, Major Lazer, Russ and Big Gigantic continued until 3:30 in the morning.

Saturday’s acts didn’t get underway until 2 PM allowing some recovery from the late night. Coin from nearby Nashville started things off with his fun-filled act. Other main stage shows included The Front Bottoms, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Tegan and Sara and The Head and the Heart. The evening acts included the definition of high energy, Cage the Elephant. Matt Shultz was in usual form and the crowd was equally engaged singing along with every song. Chance the Rapper had the evening slot before the headliner. You easily could think he was main act as the stage was packed and the crowd extended back as far as you could see. Chance was very visible throughout the festival riding around the grounds on a scooter, playing beach volleyball, and performing in Superjam. I would guess he enjoys Roo as much as Roo enjoys having him! The Red Hot Chili Peppers followed up his show. They played hits spanning generations and have maintained all the on stage energy of their early years. Flea said “We’ve played a million f’n festivals. This is my favorite one.” The night was again far from over with Flume, Superjam, Umphrey’s McGee, and Marshmello having late night sets. For those familiar with Superjam, it is a collaborative effort of Bonnaroo artists with a yearly theme. This year ‘s was soul and included Jon Batiste, Chance the Rapper, The Head and Heart, Margo Price, Flint Eastwood and many others.

Sunday saw warmer temperatures, which added to the exhaustion. Everyone dug deep for one more day. White Reaper and Royal Blood had some of the most raucous fans with a huge mosh pit and slam dancing. Margo Price brought country to Sunday’s lineup. Next up were Milky Chance and Crystal Castles. Evening act, Lorde, was troubled with technical issues that delayed her performance 30 minutes.  Fortunately she was given time for a full set to the crowd’s delight. The night concluded The Weekend. His unopposed show had a massive crowd as the festival came to a close.

Bonnaroo like most business ventures proved that you must evolve or die. As festival competition grows fiercer, sticking with the same model was not enough even for the most established US festival. The structural and lineup changes proved to be a resounding success! We can look forward to the future and new surprises that may be in store for us at Bonnaroo.

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LIVE: BONNAROO 2017 – June 8-11, 2017

Filed Under: Featured ArticlesLive ReviewsPhoto Galleries

About the Author: ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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