Words and photos by Yvonne Gougelet.
We’ve showered, we’ve slept in our beds, we’ve begrudgingly cleaned out our cars, we’ve gone back to our boring day jobs, and the Bonnaroo Blues are kicking into overdrive. Take us back!! Just one week ago over 65,000 music lovers from across the nation (and globe) converged at the Great Stage Park, also known as “The Farm,” at one of the greatest music festivals in the nation, Bonnaroooooooo.
The Music Festival Weather Gods granted us with flawless weather (high of 87 on Sunday, low of 59 Friday night), and it’s safe to say this was the Best Roo ever. It was hot, but not the usual Bonnaroo-I feel like I’m dying-hot. Not a drop of rain, and hardly any dust in Centeroo, either.
Bonnaroo 2016 saw the lowest audience turnout in its then 15-year existence (approximately 45,000 people). Selfishly, we want fewer people for better access to the front of the stage for good views, fewer people in line for food, porta-potties, etc. But if we want Bonnaroo to continue to flourish – and exist – the numbers need to be up. 65,000 attendees were reported this year, and it was the perfect amount of people. Not too overcrowded and not too few to worry about future ‘Roos. Bonnaroo’s Sweet Sixteen was so sweet indeed!
This year’s lineup was filled with a little somethin’ for everyone, from rock to EDM, from hip hop to jazz, funk, soul, bluegrass, you name it. An all-you-can-eat buffet for music connoisseurs, if you will, and why we love Bonnaroo so much. U2 played their very first American festival, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Chance both played their second headlining set, and Lorde and The Weeknd closed out the weekend on a super chill note.
What makes Bonnaroo stand out from all of the other major festivals in the nation are the Bonnaroovian vibes. The motto of the festival is “Radiate Positivity,” send out good vibes, do random acts of kindness, and you’ll receive them back, almost instantaneously. (I’ve witnessed it firsthand in my eleven years on The Farm.) Tens of thousands of music lovers of all ages, races, shapes, religious backgrounds, political beliefs, etc., all come together and create a utopian community for five nights and four days. Unity through the power of music.
Roochute made its triumphant return and added L.E.D. lights to guide the way at night. Introducing Groovechute:
I discovered that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is, in fact, the Bonnaroo fountain. Nothing beats those mid-day dips.
The headliner sets were enough to make any music lover happy, but there was so much more than just the headliners. Over 150 bands played across 11 stages. Here are our top music moments from Bonnaroo 2017.
(Full set galleries below!)
The Soul Shakedown Superjam featuring Preservation Hall, Chance, Jon Batiste, Sam Cohen, George Porter, Jr., Lecrae, Margo Price, Joseph, Rayland Baxter, Jason Huber of Cherub, Tank and the Bangas, Lukas Nelson, Nicole Atkins, Boyfriend & Flint Eastwood. Full set-list.
The Bluegrass Situation featuring Ed Helms, Bryan Sutton Band, Martina McBride, River Whyless, Greensky Bluegrass, Margo Price, Mandolin Orange, Baskery, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Gaby Moreono, and Lillie May.
Irish multi-instrumentalist James Vincent McMorrow gave us his all in this powerful set.
Portugal. The Man‘s smokin’ set playing till 3 am. (New album Woodstock is their best yet!)
English soul-rocker Michael Kiwanuka took us to church on a Saturday at This Tent.
Chad Smith (drummer of Red Hot Chili Peppers) playing a surprise set with English indie-rock band Ruen Brothers
Boone, North Carolina, boys Rainbow Kitten Surprise. They entered to play Bonnaroo just last year, were denied, and ended up playing the second-largest stage of the fest.
The three sisters of Joseph not only rocked their own show but wowed the crowd in the Soul Superjam and in an intimate Statefarm set.
Folk-Rock band Kaleo on the What Stage. Well-deserved main-stage spot.
What else can we say about ultra babe Tove Lo, other than she’s one of the very few sets this photographer stayed and enjoyed from top to bottom.
Miami-based hippy funk-rock band Magic City Hippies are definitely one of our favorite discoveries at Roo ’17 and one we can’t stop listening to, now that we’re off The Farm.
Allan Rayman playing the Who Stage, just before telling the lighting guy to turn the lights off. He plays a cross between R&B and rock, as if Tom Waits meets Michael Jackson. Crazy combo, but it somehow really, really works.
We loved the vibes at Rezz’s sunset set at the new The Other stage, which happened to be the scene of the Roonicorn videos that have since gone wildly viral.
Late night Funk set with Turkuaz
One of our favorite Roo moments was witnessing English rock band Ten Fe experience their very first corn dog and funnel cake after their set. I’ve never seen anyone so excited about carnival food before. Thanks for the bite, gents!
Up-and-coming folk-rockers Wilderado is definitely one of our new indie favorites.
Bonnaroo is so much more than a music festival. It’s also a comedy and film festival. Some of our top sets were Hannibal Buress, Two Dope Queens, The Improvised Shakespeare group, and Hari Kondabolu.
We had an absolutely epic time last weekend and can’t wait to return to the farm next year! Till then! Bonnaroooooooooooooo!!!
Full bands sets!
Soul Shakedown Superjam!
Bluegrass Situation Superjam