WE’RE BACK: Bonnaroo 2011 Wrap-Up

Another year another amazing festival gone by. Bonnaroo 2011 was full of top-notch acts, pleasant surprises and a lot of dust. After returning home from the 20 hour drive we have had enough time to gather ourselves and reflect on the beautiful and momentous weekend that we had in wonderful Manchester, Tennessee. Here are the top 5 acts and biggest surprise moment for each of us that was able to make it down to the farm–


5. Lil Wayne- My first rap concert so it had to make the list. Lil Wayne is much more than a rapper, he is an entertainer and that’s what he did during his concert. Not only was I feeling the beat and loving the pace which he performed at, but his banter with the crowd was priceless. Wish I could repeat what he said here but I imagine like at his show, some people might be scared off.

4. Twin Shadow- This group was new to me but I loved every minute of it. Lead singer George Lewis Jr. came out in a black leather jacket and a hat straight out of the 80’s black power movement. Not only was the music great, their stage presence made you feel like you were on the set of Purple Rain. With that being said, I would have considered this one of my top shows if they covered Prince.

3. My Morning Jacket- The reason this isn’t number one is because I knew what to expect from MMJ. As usual they crushed it and made one hell of a show. Their new material from Circuital transferred well to a live stage and I look forward to it becoming a staple of their performances.

2. The Head and The Heart- A quirky little band that you could tell was both excited and comfortable on stage in front of an audience. They played a beautiful set and their soaring harmonies will most certainly be talked about more as the Maimed and Tamed crew approaches it’s second major festival of the summer down in Newport, Rhode Island.

1. Band of Skulls- Clearly a great rock band and most certainly the best show of the weekend in my opinion. For those of you who went to Bonnaroo to see Black Keys; Band of Skulls would have fulfilled your straight up rock quota minus the 80,000 plus people trying to jostle for viewing positions. Their tunes were so catchy and deservedly earn their own praise but when transferred to the live stage become an entity of their own.

Surprise Moment- Lil Wayne being on time/sober enough to perform.


5. Ben Sollee- I’m not sure if it is the novelty of using a cello in today’s music scene or the fact that the beautiful sound Sollee produces with his instrument of choice makes his music seem much more earnest, but whatever it is Sollee was one of the most intriguing artists at the festival. Not only was his solo set a work of art in and of itself but he also made guest appearances with The Low Anthem, Nicole Atkins and My Morning Jacket. A true festival warrior.

4. Portugal. The Man- Extended jams and seamless transitions between songs are a trademark of PTM sets and they didn’t disappoint in bringing exactly that to That Tent on a hot and stuffy Saturday.

3. Arcade Fire- EPIC. But it was a little weird that they ended with Sprawl II even though we all know it is an M&T favorite.

2. My Morning Jacket- You knew this was coming, Bonnaroo is basically MMJ’s hometown festival and they have delivered numerous historical performances on the farm during the festival’s 10 year run. Leading up to their Friday night set everyone was talking about how they called upon the rain gods in ’08 and ’04, but this year they came up a bit short. Maybe it was because they didn’t play Dondante.


1. Buffalo Springfield- They still got it, there is no doubting that. Although they could have turned up the volume a bit they still had the power to do what MMJ couldn’t, bring the rain and lightning even if it was just for a short period of time. I have always been intrigued by 60s music and the Laurel Canyon scene and watching this set was as close as I think I’ll ever get to transporting myself back to that Golden Age of rock music.

Surprise Moment- When Trevor and I hung out at the Sonic Stage to see !!!. Lead singer Nic Offer brought a ridiculous amount of energy to the tiny stage along with his hilariously sexual dance moves that he shared with everyone when he jumped into the crowd. This was one of those sets where you think to yourself, holy shit I gotta see these guys again.


5. Portugal. The Man- The boys from Alaska played a great set on an extremely hot Saturday afternoon. Despite the heat,t hey had everyone in the tent dancing and singing along.

4. The Head and The Heart- I loved everything about this Sunday morning set. Good beats, catchy songs, and tremendous harmonies. “Rivers and Roads” was probably the highlight of the show, especially when Charity was belting out the chorus. This set gives me more and more reasons to go to Newport Folk Festival.

3. Arcade Fire- I thought they played an awesome set on the main stage. They are very energetic (sometimes it can be over the top), and they know how to put on a great show. I still can’t believe they closed by playing “Wake Up” and then “Sprawl II.” Too Funny.

2. My Morning Jacket- We missed out on both The Tennessee Fire and At Dawn when we saw them at their Terminal 5 shows, so I was hoping they would play a plethora of early stuff. I did not get my wish, probably due to the 2-hour time limit. We did get a great deal of Circuital, which was great, and we were about 10 rows back. My ears are still ringing.

1. Buffalo Springfield- I am a huge Neil Young fan, so I was really looking forward to this show. Neil was being classic Neil, and he and the rest of the boys rocked the shit out of roo. They closed their set by playing “Broken Arrow”, followed by “For What It’s Worth”, and an awesome rendition of “Rockin’ in the Free World” where Neil went nuts.

Surprise Moment- When Jack White played on every bands set at the same time…but seriously it was when My Morning Jacket obeyed the 2-hour time limit. I was just hoping they would play forever.


5. Arcade Fire- One of the most hyped live shows on the planet didn’t disappoint…Win, Regine & Co. played the shit out of their fantastic debut album and sprinkled plenty of Suburbs gems in between.

4. Junip- Only knowing the solo work of Jose Gonzalez, Junip brought a new and entirely different and relaxing vibe that provided the perfect warm up for anyone running on fumes by Sunday.

3. Buffalo Springfield- The old men might have been hampered by sound difficulties, but they proved to everyone that Neil, Richie Furay, and Stills can still get along and have a lot of fun while jamming. Also, breaking out “Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World” never hurts.

2. My Morning Jacket- Jim James and crew show that they do in fact get a little better with every show. Having to play within a time limit for once, MMJ limited the setlist to tunes from Circuital and the previous three albums, but they still managed to delight the crowd with an energetic and emotional set.

1. Deerhunter- Far and away my number 1, first time seeing these guys and I am officially hooked. Bradford Cox provided a full on concert experience with weird banter and not one single moment of stage silence. It was easy to see these guys love playing with each other and recognize the artistry of Cox’s songwriting.

Surprise Moment- When I stumbled upon a band playing a late night set on Friday at the intimate Sonic Stage beneath the muffled sounds of Lil’ Weezy’s hyped-up set, I had to stop in for a look. The band happened to be folk-y favorites Deer Tick and were fully plugged in and rocking out to a set of strictly Nirvana. Deervana indeed.

Posted on by Eric in Bonnaroo Spotlight

Add a Comment