Current Issue Details

Buy Current Issue


Published: 2012/06/11

Bonnaroo’s Sunday Surprises: Lionel Richie, fun., The Beach Boys, Ben Folds Five and More

The 11th annual Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival came to a close shortly before Midnight Monday morning. As previously reported, Phish closed the festival with an extended two-set show that included a cameo by country legend Kenny Rogers on his signature song, “The Gambler.” The performance was the climax of another successful edition of the Manchester, TN festival as well as one of Bonnaroo’s most eclectic days in recent memory.

Oddly enough, 73-year-old Rogers—a last-minute Bonnaroo addition several decades past from his peak hit-making days—was among the day’s breakout acts. Playing for one of his youngest audiences in recent member, Rogers offered a set of hits that included “The Gambler,” “Islands in the Stream” and other songs most of the crowd had never seen live. Near the end of his show, Rogers also brought out the weekend’s biggest surprise guest, cross-generational pop icon Lionel Richie, to sing on his own “Lady” and “All Night Long” (Richie considers Rogers his mentor and joined the veteran country star at SXSW this past March.) Every year The Mayor of Manchester also awards one Bonnaroo artist the keys to the city, and The Gambler received ths year’s honor during an unexpected mid-set ceremony.

Despite Bonnaroo’s usual allignment with jam, indie and roots music, Sunday’s lineup was also filled with pop acts with various ties to the grassroots music community. Jack Antonoff, who led one of Bonnaroo’s unofficial house bands Steel Train for many years, made a heroic return to the festival with his chart-topping band fun. The unabashed pop trio played for a sprawling crowd in That Tent at 6:45 PM. Though fun. ran through their current singles “We Are Young” and “Some Nights,” they also sprinkled in covers of Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” while singer Nate Ruess name-checked Phish and told the crowd Bonnaroo was his favorite festival. In addition, the horn section from MyNameIsJohnMichael made a surprise appearance on three songs during fun.’s set.

Likewise, Ben Folds Five—whose unique brand of piano pop has appealed to H.O.R.D.E. fans and radio listeners alike—played for several thousand fans on the massive Which Stage. Folds, who has performed at Bonnaroo with his solo band, told the audience he loves playing Bonnaroo because it is a “real-music” festival and focused on material from the recently reunited band’s classic catalog. “Brick” and “Battle Of Who Could Care Less” were two highlights.

Another recently reunited act, The Beach Boys, echoed Folds’ statements while performing on the festival’s main What Stage. After arriving at Bonnaroo a day early with his family to catch Red Hot Chili Peppers and Santigold, frontman Mike Love exclaimed that Bonnaroo is a festival for “real music fans.” The five surviving classic-period Beach Boys and their expansive backing band then proceeded to remind the audience—their youngest in decades—just how many timeless songs they have recorded over the past 50 years. With the exception of two new numbers from their new album That’s Why God Made the Radio and a few covers like The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me,” the band focused on the classics—from their early surf hits to Pet Sounds favorites and the ’80s comeback smash “Kokomo.”

Though he sat quietly behind his white grand piano for much of the afternoon, Brian Wilson sang lead on a few songs too, most notably the Smile track “Heroes and Villains.” At the end of the night, he picked up his bass and joined the rest of the band at the front of the stage for “Barbara Ann.” Though many of Love’s baby boomer jokes were lost on the young crowd, fans hapilly threw beach balls in the audience and participated in one of the biggest sing-alongs in the festival’s history. In another endearing moment, guitarist Al Jardine gave a shout-out to his kids, who were camping at the festival, and said he “hoped they made it” to the show.

As in years past, a giant indie rock band—this time The Shins— closed out the Which Stage while fans gathered for Bonnaroo’s traditional Sunday night jamband headliner. Their set included Millenial anthems like “New Slang,” “Carring is Creepy” and “Kissing the Lipless” and even a surf-rock riff reminicent of The Beach Boys during “Simple Song.”

The rest of the day’s lineup was filled with rising indie, roots and psychedelic rock bands that a decade earlier would have been considered part of the jamband scene. Austin guitarist Gary Clark. Jr. opened the What Stage with a set of blistering blues songs reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Intertwined Philadelphia groups War on Drugs and Kurt Vile connected the dots between punk and psychedelic music. ALO, one of the only true jambands on Sunday’s bill, showed their own diversity by covering “Eye of the Tiger.” The Fruit Bats channeled elements of Devendra Banhart and longtime friends The Shins. Radiohead protégés Here We Go Magic threw a few free-form jams into their setlist and referenced their love of Phish backstage. Onetime indie-Americana act Delta Spirit showcased their new, more rock-centric sound on the Which Stage.

Even Bon Iver, who spent his early years in jam and roots-rock bands but functioned as Sunday’s What Stage indie rock headliner, made a point to stretch out his songs a bit more than usual. At one point he called the audience “sunburnt,” and he asked them to join him in a call-and-response jam. As more than a few artists pointed out throughout the weekend, hippiedom is still fully engrained in Bonnaroo’s DNA.


There are 17 comments associated with this post

BonnaBoo June 12, 2012, 08:35:45

hippiedom is still fully engrained in Bonnaroo’s DNA.” This is true for all of the hippies that ended up yuppie. Bonnaroo did to festivals what Walmart did to Mom&Pop shops. As far as attendees go Bonnaroo is for sell out poseurs. Boom goes the dynomite.

Ben June 12, 2012, 11:25:00

BonnaBoo douches outside the gates of Bonnaroo because he can’t afford a ticket

dingo June 12, 2012, 11:26:56

somebody’s been drinkin the Hatorade again…
Bless you Superfly, do what you do…

PM June 12, 2012, 11:51:32


Peter June 12, 2012, 14:05:57

Everyone at bonnaroo loves being there and is full of great vibes. yeah its a bit expensive and they have sponsers but then we couldnt see the beach boys or phish. dont blame the festival for the arists asking to be paid. support the musicians and the people behind them. or well have to listen to bonnaboos shitty jam band on the main stage and no one wants that

BonnaBoo June 12, 2012, 16:38:10

Clearly Peter, Ben, Dingo were all too young or were not tapped into the scene back when festies were legit. I regrettably was at the 1st Bonnaroo. Yes, it was a fun time but I had no clue what the ramifications of such a large festival would be. Bonnnaroo showed that festies could be commercially viable and did not have to go the way of Woodstock. (if you don’t know see what happened at the last Woodstock)….Anyway, after the inaugural B-roo, there was a fest every weekend which resulted in the smaller festies cannibalizing one another. I’m not a hater but any means…I just know what is quality and what is for the custi.

BonnaBoo June 12, 2012, 16:44:32

PS…I never said anything about the ticket price. As far as value is concerned I think that the ticket is well worth the cost…You basically can see more than a years worth of live music in a single weekend. Def worth the $$$. But I don’t shop at Walmart out of principle. (see 1st comment if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) P-Out.

dingo June 12, 2012, 16:47:29

44 years young 200+ Dead (Grateful that is and was! )
88 Phish and counting…
the fact that you used the word “custi” tells us that an intelligent conversation is out of the question… The Roo isn’t hurting the festival business, quite the opposite… it created a “ boom” which unfortunately for the wooks forces a legit festival run by legit people
new school fools will always hate… at least you have the disco biscuits!

D June 12, 2012, 17:42:52

Bonaroo, Coachella, Newport Folk/Jazz, Wakarusa, High Sierra and others aren’t at all expensive when you consider how many bands you can squeeze in over a weekend. Food and water may be pricier than what many might want to pay. That said, it’s certainly more expensive to see many of your favorite bands on the Bonnaroo bill as individual shows considering you’re paying ticket/service charge for each ticket, food, drink, parking and possibly even merchandise. To be able to get all of that in one weekend is a bargain. The biggest expense is probably travel cost if one doesn’t drive to the festival.

BonnaBoo June 13, 2012, 11:37:17

Dingo. For someone looking to engage in intelligent conversation, I’m surprised by all of the conclusions you’ve built between us. I say ‘custi’ and you aSsume that I’m a biscuit head? Thats a bit judgmental. Just because we differ in opinion does not mean that we are dissimilar. By the looks of it, we’ve been to MANY of the same shows. But attendance is not the same thing as credentials. My point is simply that their was a vibrant festival scene well before the Roo. Yes, there were some sketchy ones run by shady peeps, including The Angles. But most were low key camp outs with tons of up and comers, tons and tons of jams and collaborations. Since the roo there are very few fests like the ones that preceded it. Its a shame that there are many that think Bonnaroo is the end all be all. You names a few awesome ones, High Serra def. NOJazz fest is Boss. To get the intimacy of the earlier festies JamCruise is among the limited options, but not everyone can afford it. P-out.

Linds June 13, 2012, 14:39:42

I bet bonnaboo is only 22. Love the generic assumptions about “all the feativals prior to Bonnaroo” that were held before he was even born. Info taken straight from the hippie high horse handbook.

Linds June 13, 2012, 14:43:14

And ps, I was at roo this yr for the 11th time. That’s right, all 11 yrs. And it was one of my favorite years ever!! So unless u were there to experience the amazing time I had, just comment on what you know. And thanks for keeping your bad attitude off my dance floor!

BonnaBoo June 13, 2012, 16:14:48

Linds…you are funny. Don’t you think its a little hypocritical to criticize me for “generic assumptions” and then make some assumptions yourself? 1st off – I don’t remember saying “all the festivals” I think i said most…and either way, I was stating fact, not assumption. 2nd – Im well out of my 20’s. I don’t know why I’m responding to a person who thinks they own the dance floor. As far as I’m concerned we all share the dance floor of the world.

dingo June 13, 2012, 16:45:59

Boo- your absolutely right…sorry for the assumption… so true about people not being able to afford$ it! peace out my brother hope your summer is the dankness…
ps speaking of little festy’s – I’m headed to Nedfest in August!

BonnaBoo June 13, 2012, 17:59:23

Dingo…Nedfest, sweet. I should apologize too. I think I was a bit harsh with a few things. I do think the roo has had a Walmart effect, but I def was off base saying its for ‘sell out poseurs‘…I laugh now at how ridiculous of a thing that was to say. Sorry. I’m sure we’ve crossed paths and its likely we will again…so until then…B.eZe

mtnsound June 14, 2012, 17:40:01

NedFest Friday
noon-1:30pm: She Said String Band
2-3:30pm: Jeff Scroggins and Colorado
4-5:30pm: Yarn
6-7:30pm: Fox Street Allstars
8-10pm: Melvin Seals and the JGB
10:30pm-1:30am: Jet Edison at First Street Pub Saturday
Gates: 11:30
noon-1:30pm: Fruition
2-3:30pm: New Monsoon
4-5:30pm: Hot Buttered Rum
6-7:30pm: Jimmy Herring Band
8-10pm: Secret Headliner (multi-Grammy-winning artist)
10:30pm-1:30am: Smooth Money Gesture at First Street Pub Sunday
Gates: 10:30am
11am-noon: TBA
12:30-2pm: Grant Farm
2:30-4pm: Great American Taxi
4:30-6pm: Kyle Hollingsworth Band
6:30-8:30pm: Keller Williams, Steve Kimock, Kyle Hollingsworth & Dave Watts

Accaount July 14, 2012, 03:16:03

Okay, I can’t believe this post hasn’t reivceed any comments! I mean REALLY .this is HOT!! And I m not telling you something you don’t already know;) You two are such trendsetters. I am sure 2010 will see a surge of pussy tattoos and guys wearing tough lookin kilts. Rock On!!

Note: It may take a moment for your post to appear

(required) (required, not public)