Make us your home page

The best of Bonnaroo 2012, Days 1-3: Radiohead, Avett Brothers, Major Lazer, Alabama Shakes and more




As we left our first Bonnaroo on Sunday morning, Bon Iver was soundchecking on the main What Stage. So hey, at least we sort of got to hear one of the biggest acts of Bonnaroo's final day.

But though we missed Phish, the Beach Boys, Ben Folds Five and others, Soundcheck did have a team on hand for the first three days of Bonnaroo 2012. How was our first 'Roo? Hot, aching, extremely dusty (well, at least until it started raining after Skrillex on Saturday night -- then everything turned to mud) and a whole lot of fun. Click here for our Friday review and here for our Saturday review -- both now updated with photos.

We saw dozens of fantastic acts over the festival's first three days (including Tampa's own Applebutter Express -- we'll have a full report on their Bonnaroo adventure coming soon), so it's tough to pick favorites. But pin us down, and these are the 10 (okay, 11) acts we think we'll remember most.

-- Radiohead: Friday's headliner delivered the set everyone was hoping for (well, aside from the guy who shouted out "Creep!"). Rarely have the alternative icons been this energized and ready to party. The What Stage could have exploded during Paranoid Android.

-- tUnE-yArDsMerrill Garbus' feral yelps, loops and drumming incited plenty of screaming in the packed This Tent early on Friday. For those who wonder how her unique experimental sounds come together, now you know.

-- St. Vincent (above): Annie Clark's guitar wizardry filled That Tent as she unfurled singles like Marrow and Cruel with unhinged electricity.

-- Major Lazer/Black Star: We refuse to separate these two big-beat-droppers, since they played late-night shows at the same time on Friday. It's impossible to say who brought more fire to their tent, Major Lazer's Diplo or Black Star's Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), but both venues shook from the energy inside. No matter which stage you chose to check out during this painful conflict, you went away happy.

-- Avett Brothers: A gargantuan crowd flocked to the main stage for these Georgia newgrassers, whose Murder in the City brought the house down. (A shout-out must also be given here to Punch Brothers, another modern folk/country/swing outfit who displayed jaw-dropping classical ability at several shows throughout the festival grounds on Saturday.)

-- Alabama ShakesOne of the most buzzed-about bands on this year's bill, the Shakes delivered what was probably Thursday's most anticipated set, and they didn't hold back, playing hit Hold On second. Singer Brittany Howard was, as always, the star of the show.

-- ?uestlove's Superjam: The music -- a selection of funk and classic rock tunes played by members of the Roots, The Time and other great session men -- was good enough. Throw in D'Angelo for the R&B singer's first U.S. performance in 12 years, and it was a performance you may be kicking yourself for missing.

-- Danzig Legacy: Glenn Danzig's nearing 60, but he never stopped growling, prowling and preening during his career-spanning Danzig Legacy set. The demands of the lengthy Danzig/Samhain/Misfits set seemed to wear on him a little, but he gave the fans everything they wanted and then some. Misfits guitarist Doyle, on the other hand? The dude still looks like he could play linebacker for the Patriots.

-- Flogging Molly: The Celtic punks incited probably the most ferocious crowd we saw all weekend. The mosh pit was an absolute war zone. We wrote one word in our notebook next to Drunken Lullabies: "CRAZY."

-- Santigold: Santi White's music is perfect for a party, so she must have figured: Why not bring the party onstage? She ordered security to let more than 100 fans cross the barricades and hop on stage to dance during Creator in what had to be one of the standout moments of Bonnaroo 2012. “I’ve never seen anything like this up here with us!” White shouted afterward. Neither have we, Santi.


What about all you festies out there? Who delivered your favorite shows of the weekend?

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Contributing: Caitlin Johnston, tbt*

[Last modified: Monday, June 11, 2012 11:45am]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours