HENRY DILTZ, AFP/Getty Images When Rhode Island's Newport Jazz Festival…
- Posted on Jun 11th 2012 11:05AM by Michael Mehalick
Tim Mosenfelder, Getty Images
Walking from Gary Clark Jr.'s old-school rock showcase to the Which Stage, avant-garde Georgia punks the Black Lips opened their set with "Family Tree" off their standout latest Arabia Mountain. Guitarist Cole Alexander summed up the atmosphere surrounding their midday performance best as, "original rock 'n' roll as Chuck Berry intended it."
At the same moment rising pop-rock stars Grouplove brought their Modest Mouse-tinged sound to a crowd slowly but surely tapping into their last drips of adrenaline. The fist-pumping "Itchin' on a Photograph" and the infectious disco sheen of "Tongue Tied" had even those sleeping out on towels up and moving before it was all said and done.
Although the sun wasn't shining as it should have been, the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys brightened up the area surrounding the What Stage as thousands of people clapped and sang along to the group's classic surf rock. Boasting original members Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks, the band filled the annual "living legend" position on the Bonnaroo lineup, which previously featured the likes of Buffalo Springfield and Stevie Wonder. Beach balls bounced in patches and young couples kissed during "Surfing Safari" as yet another new generation celebrated the coming of summer along with the spritely crooners.
Then came the dreaded schedule conflicts that knocked fest goers around like pinballs between shows from indie-rock contemporaries the Antlers, the War on Drugs and the Joy Formidable all clashing with Ben Folds Five anchoring the merry-go-round nature of the stage-to-stage beast.
The latter performed for one of the first times in 12 years as Ben Folds dug deep for favorites like "Fair" and then engaged in the tradition of taking a photo of the entire crowd flipping him off.
As if that weren't difficult enough to handle, the first prize for overlapping set heartbreaks of the weekend had to go to the Shins, Young the Giant, fun. and the Civil Wars all closing down their respective tents and stages until 2013. This all goes without mentioning the transcendental, backwoods soul of Bon Iver bleeding into each of those aforementioned shows.
Walking out in an out-of-character tank top and brown leather pants, Justin Vernon struck soulful poses leading his band through show and album opener "Perth" and the Grammy-winning "Holocene," playing guitar on his knees at points dutifully striking the right notes and pedals. The entirety of Bon Iver came out like a band with something to prove on the Sunday evening What Stage as the revelers in the field swayed taking in the dulcet tones. The set's peak came when Vernon pulled out a steel acoustic guitar and commenced with a powerful sing a long of "Skinny Love."
- Danny Brown
- Kendrick Lamar
- Alabama Shakes
- Michael Kiwanuka
- Aziz Ansari
- Bonnaroo 2012
- Bonnaroo 2012
- Bonnaroo 2012
- Little Dragon
- Foster the People
- Radiohead's Thom Yorke
- Alice Cooper
- The Roots
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Gary Clark Jr.
- Black Lips
- Bon Iver
- The Shins
Moments later the Shins played the last Which Stage show of the weekend, offering up hits like "New Slang" and "Simple Song" off their latest album Port of Morrow. Sun showers drizzled the undeterred masses as James Mercer chord chugged through "Australia" wearing a determined grin on his face. At the back of the field a unison interpretive dance mob provided the visual soundtrack to the Shins' deep lyrical content.
Fun. struggled through an ill-fated cover of "Me and Julio Down by the School Yard" but recovered well with their mega hit "We Are Young" while Young the Giant and The Civil Wars each turned in impassioned performances, fighting to be heard up against each other.
This sonic clash ultimately culminated in a festival-ending performance by jam pioneers Phish. The Bonnaroo veterans played an hour per each of their four members, displaying their unparalleled technical, improvisational musicianship and intense light show. With Phish, who brought out country legend Kenny Rogers, the final chapter was written in the Bonnaroo 2012 story. As the mud-covered fans ambled back towards their camp and the impending return to reality, plans and predictions of what's to come at Bonnaroo 2013 were already being discussed with the fantastic weekend of music still ringing in their collective ears.