Saturday: the day in festival language that usually means everyone is worn thin and ready for a break. Not this year, Bonnaroo. Some of the best performances of the weekend rolled in on Saturday, getting people back on their feet and ready to roll once more. Here's our rundown of some of the best performances down at The Farm on day 3 of Bonnaroo 2017.
Those who came out and braved the sun and heat for COIN’s Which Stage set were treated to Nashville’s own putting on a fine show. The indie pop group were light enough to open up the day, appealing to both the local crowd familiar with them and festal goers looking to try something new. The band mixed it up with quite a bit of material from their new album, the mouthful-title How Will You Know If You Never Try.
Best fan comment of the show: "I need more money, and I need more COIN."
Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real
If the surname “Nelson” sounds familiar to you, that’s because the Lukas Nelson playing This Tent on Saturday is Willie Nelson’s son. Joining with Promise of the Real, who formerly backed Neil Young, they delivered a heartwarming 10-song set. Fans of Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and Lukas Nelson himself were delighted to hear the legend’s son in what, by festival standards, was an intimate performance under the tent.
Best fan comment of the show: "If you close your eyes, it sounds like Willie."
Rainbow Kitten Surprise
Coming in from neighboring Boone, NC, Rainbow Kitten Surprise were a welcome afternoon set, teasing through quirky melodies and catchy lyrics. From their opener “Cocaine Jesus” until they closed out with “Run” they were a perfect folk-tinged warm-up for The Head and the Heart to hit the same stage later that evening.
Best fan comment of the show: "What's a rainbow kitty?"
Tegan and Sara
One of Saturday’s highlight performances, Tegan and Sara took to the Which stage alongside their brightly-colored inflatable set decorations, serving up a pleasant variety of lighthearted pop in their first return to Bonnaroo in over a decade. As the boisterous twins bounced around the stage, they were joined briefly by edgy New York podcasters 2 Dope Queens. From their more modern hits like “Boyfriend” to older classics like “The Con,” the crowd knew them all, and sang and danced away.
Best fan comment of the show: "I love them like my own sisters."
Arriving for their Bonnaroo debut, Bad Suns hit the stage polished and having grown since their stints on tours with New Politics, The Neighbourhood and The 1975. Gathered in front of them were a crowd of the prettiest girls Bonnaroo had to offer, which even gathered the attention of charismatic frontman Christo Bowman, who noted how beautiful the audience was. The second their beloved band opened up with the first note, the audience burst into cheers, arms raised and waiting. With two albums of strong material now, Bad Suns were able to deliver, and everyone else knew the words to all the songs as well as the band. Bad Suns’ set was an hour of breezy enough tunes to please the pop crowd, but depth enough to maintain an audience of alternative-loving Bonnaroovians.
Best fan comment of the show: “I can’t believe this moment is happening!”
The Head and the Heart
Several years ago, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see The Head and the Heart on a festival billing, but certainly not playing one of the bigger stages. Now, with rising stardom, comes changes. Coming on the Which Stage, their performance was one of a few that had fans lined up throughout the day to secure a spot. When the band opened up with the radio-friendly “All We Ever Knew,” those who were not already believers immediately recognized the song and flocked forth to watch. From there, The Head and the Heart were able to drift into their more folk-tinged offerings without losing much the more mainstream crowd. By the end of the hour, there was hardly a naysayer present, as everyone felt the immense love this band radiated.
Best fan comment of the show: “They came out so underwhelming, and then they wowed.”
Cage the Elephant
Choosing a best Cage the Elephant Bonnaroo performance is like choosing a favorite child, because as Matt Schultz quipped from stage “this is our backyard crowd!” and the band have been a perennial staple. However, in one of the festival’s most talked about shows, Cage’s set on Saturday night was without a doubt that best show ever — and aptly, for their nighttime Bonnaroo debut. What was previewed to be one of Bonnaroo’s highlights lived up to expectations, and for added exuberance, Cage the Elephant even included pyro, smoke effects, and a burst of confetti at the end, all efforts that would have befitted even one of Bonnaroo’s headliners.
In a clearly well-thought out performance by a band so pleased to be playing this slot at Bonnaroo that they wanted to wow, even their entrances were exciting: guitarist Brad Schultz started at the sound booth and made his way through the crowd before leaping on stage, and Matt Shultz erupted from the shadows like an energetic fireball dressed in green. By a few songs in, Brad was back in the barricade, and Matt had shed most of his clothes, resembling some character halfway between Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger. Though the band used to be famous for stage diving and crowd surfing, the new grown up Cage the Elephant mainly stayed near the stage, or at the least along the front barricade. That isn’t to say the audience didn’t get to participate: on several occasions, Matt held his microphone stand high over his head, broadcasting to the crowd to sing along, which they did — every last word, until the bitter end.
Best fan comment of the show: “Holy. Crap.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers brought a strong headlining performance that only a group of old pros can slam out. The band knew what their fans wanted to hear (and see), and they delivered. Opening up with a jam that drifted into “Can’t Stop” and the popular “Dani California,” they crafted a setlist that showcased the modern era of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, with a few highlights from their older years. The one disappointment was the lack of “Under the Bridge,” which was written on the setlist but instead subbed for the more upbeat “Soul to Squeeze.” The band also proved that even veterans can throw down some covers, which included “What Is Soul?” by the Funkadelics, and a perfectly selected version of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”
Not that the vivacious Kiedis needs any competition, frolicking around the stage after he quickly became shirtless, but Flea is just as much a showman as the vivacious Kiedis. Donned out in an outfit that looked like it could have been made by your grandma and her quilting group, Flea interspersed his legendary slap-bass technique with near constant bunny leaps into the air, and at one point, even a stint walking on his hands. At the end of the set following a rolling “Give It Away,” drummer Chad Smith got his moment as well, leaping down from his kit and throwing a handful of drumsticks at the growd. Then, grabbing the mic Kiedis had thrown down before exiting, Smith briefly addressed the crowd on what an honor it was to play, finishing up with “We love you!” as the packed crowd erupted.
Best fan comment of the show: “Can we fit anyone else in here?”