Sunday at Bonnaroo: Elton John, Ed Helms Bluegrass Situation, Late Night Surprises and More
Elton John and an assortment of diverse acts brought Bonnaroo to a close on Sunday. As is often the case, the surprises began before the sun even showed itself, as Saturday night blurred into Sunday morning. Those wee hours saw Skrillex follow his late-night SuperJam with a surprise set at the Calliope Stage, while Chromeo played an unannounced DJ set at the Snake n Jake’s Christmas Club Barn.
Sunday morning finally began in earnest when Carolina Chocolate Drops got things started on the What Stage and Lucero kicked off the Which Stage, with the latter apologizing to the crowd for getting too jazzy after an extended jam. Capital Cities then followed on the Which Stage with a set that included a rendition of Madonna’s “Holiday.” Wiz Khalifa later played one of the most crowded non-main stage shows of the weekend when the rapper drew a crowd that stretched into Centeroo.
Meanwhile, Lake Street Dive got the party started at the That Tent, which was curated by Ed Helms’ Bluegrass Situation. The tent featured a number of rootsy and Americana artists throughout the day, including Sarah Jarosz (who covered Tom Waits’ “Come On Up To The House”), The Lone Bellow (who announced that their new album is being produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner), The Black Lillies and Shovels & Rope (who honored Father’s Day by playing a rare song that was requested by a fan backstage). Ed Helms and his Bluegrass Situation then closed out the stage with a SuperJam that included guest appearances by Dierks Bentley, (“Nine Pound Hammer,” “The Gambler”), Jarosz (“Hallelujah,” Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”) and The Lonesome Trio (“Pigeons Foot,” “White Freightliner Blues”), as well as Bryan Sutton, Della Mae, Robert Ellis, Dave Johnston and more, while The Avett Brothers sat in for an extended jam. The SuperJam then wrapped up as all of the guests took the stage for a cover of the Dirty Dancing classic “Time of My Life.”
The bluegrass and Americana vibe was also present on the main What Stage, which saw Yonder Mountain String Band perform with special guest Sam Bush. The Arctic Monkeys were then followed by Bonnaroo mainstays The Avett Brothers, who drew a sizable crowd with their hits-heavy set. The band are one of the few acts to steadily climb the Bonnaroo ladder, having worked their way up from a Cafe tent set in 2006 to regular slots on the What Stage.
Meanwhile, indie/psych-rock was having its day over at the Other Tent, as Those Darlins, Goat, A$AP Ferg, Washed Out and Little Dragon kept things trippy. Goat brought their brand of hard-edged psycedelia, while Washed Out played plenty of their familiar material, including “Feel It Around” (best known as the intro music for Portlandia ).
Finally, the festival wrapped up as Elton John took over the What Stage for his unopposed headlining set. The English singer-songwriter led the crowd through a hits-filled singalong that saw Ben Folds sit in for “Grey Seal” (the Bonnaroo veteran also played with the Derek Trucks-curated SuperJam earlier in the weekend). John talked about his love of live performance, while noting that he had chosen to make Bonnaroo his first American festival because of its reputation for being the best. He also dedicated his song “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” to legendary radio host Casey Kasem, who passed away over the weekend.