The last day of Bonnaroo came as a mixed bag of emotions. While many were sad to leave The Farm and return back to reality far too soon, others were exhausted and ready to throw in the towel on four nights of camping. The heat, finally returning to normal Tennessee in June oppressiveness, made things a further challenge, especially for people wanting to catch the mid-day sets under the sun. At the same time, some of Sunday's most-anticipated sets, such as Lorde's Bonnaroo debut after headlining at Coachella earlier in the year, were on the horizon. Here's our rundown on some of Sunday's highlight performances.
Up-and-coming rapper Noname opened up Sunday at Bonnaroo with a lively performance in This Tent. The poetic artist from Chicago showed off her free styling skills, picked up from her days as a spoken word participant. While she got her start online, it’s interactive live performances like these that will turn her into a big name in the future.
Best fan comment of the show: “Miss Thang here is the shiz!”
One of several artists about to debut a new record, British hard rock band Royal Blood came out in sweltering heat to play to fans congregated around the main stage. Frontman and bassist Mike Kerr didn’t seem to mind, donning his Hawaiian shirt. The band have played here before, in 2015 as part of their debut tour, but now have the benefit of a more polished stage show and more songs. The band’s 10-song set seamlessly incorporated material from both records, as the band banged them out one after another. At one point drummer Ben Thatcher even made his way into the sweaty crowd, offering a reminder to fans that drummers can be cool too.
Best fan comment of the show: “How are they not melting up there when they just melted my face?”
The German duo Milky Chance is now fleshed out as a four-piece live outfit, and the change certainly worked for them in their early evening What Stage debut. Now touring in support of their second album Blossom, a follow up to their debut that spawned the hit song “Stolen Dance,” Milky Chance are the band with a funny name that know how to win over a festival audience with ease. The band’s tight rhythms and relaxing songs turned the sunset performance into one big party.
Best fan comment of the show: “I almost feel like we’re at the beach.”
Always choosing to make a wild entrance, Crystal Castles emerged on stage in stocking masks almost resembling homemade dog costumes. Edith Frances donned a trench coat despite the near-100 degree heat, and provided the fans cooking in the sun with a welcome drench of water from her bottle. The band charged right through their EDM-influenced set, making the Which Stage into a midday rave.
Best fan comment of the show: “What are they?”
Despite several hangups with the sound on Sunday, Lorde finally came on stage to play a haunting rendition of “Green Light” backed only by a string quartet. It took half an hour and several false starts to get the performance on track, but once on, Lorde didn’t miss a beat. Once she finally got things under control, she apologized and explained the situation. No one seemed to mind, they were so anxious to see Lorde make her Bonnaroo debut.
Now more seasoned than as the 16-year-old she was at her arrival upon the festival scene, Lorde looked as though she could be one of the festival goers, with braided hair and a semi-transparent flowing floral romper. Her backing band supported her throughout her set, while allowing her to shine through as a solo artist filled with stage presence. With her sophomore album set to launch this week, fans in attendance got a taste for what is to come from the singer.
“Bonnaroo, thank you so much! I’m never gonna forget this show,” attested Lorde. Her fans were sure to agree, with one of the most fan-participatory performances on the main stage. During her penultimate song, Lorde leapt into the photo pit and ran along the front barricade, touching hands with each and every fan in the front row. “You made this unforgettable,” she told the audience, before instructing them to “go f***ing crazy,” before going crazy herself alongside her backup dancers. At the end of the day, it was Lorde who made Bonnaroo unforgettable.
Best fan comment of the show: “She should have headlined.”
Bluegrass Situation Superjam with Ed Helms
The 9:15 time slot at Bonnaroo contrasted the two sides of music that held the most sway this year: EDM and bluegrass. This close to Nashville, it’s to be expected that country genres would be amply represented in the lineup. At the same time, following a growing trend in music, Bonnaroo has followed suit and increasingly added EDM artists to the lineup. While European DJ duo Yellow Claw played out The Other, a stage specifically created this year for acts exactly like them, one of Bonnaroo’s two classic superjams took the stage in That Tent. This year’s bluegrass superjam, hosted by the actor/banjo player Ed Helms, featured the surprise guest Bobby Osbourne, who led a rousing round of “Rocky Top.”
Best fan comment: “The superjams have become the best part of Bonnaroo.”