Bonnaroo 2018: The Best and the Worst

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Photos by Jacklyn Citero

Photo by Jacklyn Citero

We came, we saw, we roo’d. Over the Bonnaroo weekend we witnessed, listened, and tasted everything from the magical and amazing to the “could have been better,” to the just plain no. We’ve compiled a list of what we found to be some of the best and worst of Roo this year.

First up, our favorites…

Eminem

Criticisms aside, Eminem’s Bonnaroo performance may just be one of the best produced performances we have ever seen in awhile. While his performance was nearly identical to that of previous dates – looking at you Boston Calling –  we did walk in with no expectations. Slim Shady musically delivered above and beyond what any old school fan would have wanted. From the “My Name Is,” “The Real Slim Shady,” and “Without Me” throwbacks, to the accompanying orchestra, the stunning duets with Skylar Grey, and to the overall production detail, Eminem’s 2018 Bonnaroo performance is high on our list.

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Courtesy of: I. Martinez

Sheryl Crow

Her songs may date past the birth years of some Bonnaroovians, but her late afternoon performance proved that Sheryl Crow is still relevant and she’s still got it. The What Stage field was in sing-a-long mode for her entire set, even surprising Crow herself. How could it not be a little surprising when you have millennial males singing every lyric and holding up signs that say “Bros for Crow.”

Photo by Jacklyn Citero

Photo by Jacklyn Citero

The Norm

Once upon a time The Norm got their way into Bonnaroo by parking cars. This year The Norm got into Bonnaroo by actually playing the fest. Step-brothers Bryan and Ryan were the Georgia winners of Miller Lite’s “Road to Roo.” In the local battle of the bands competition, The Norm were ultimately victorious and earned their spot on the stage of the New Music On Tap Lounge Brewed by Miller Lite in the middle of Centeroo.

The Revivalists

David Shaw is a true showman. The energy he brings to every set radiates into the crowd. Even during a sunset set, a time at Roo where most are tired from the already long day and trying to prepare for the long night ahead, his stage presence was reviving. The Revivalists opened with “It Was a Sin” turning The Which stage field into a energizing sing-a-long. More fan favorites followed and Shaw’s complete ownership of that stage and crowd helped get us ampt for the rest of our night on The Farm.

Photo by Jacklyn Citero

Photo by Jacklyn Citero

Kalliope

All hail the real return of Kalliope. The gypsy wagon themed stage was the spot to keep the party going until sunrise every night of Roo. Special late night and sunrise sets came from Kaskade, Space Jesus, and our two favorites Shiba San and CloZee. If you want to lose track of time at Bonnaroo, Kalliope was the spot. After seeing some of the biggest names in the electronic world it didn’t take long to be immersed in their world until the birds began chirping and the sun began to rise.

Photo by Jacklyn Citero

Photo by Jacklyn Citero

What So Not

Last year we were introduced to what quickly became our favorite Bonnaroo stage, The Other. While we didn’t find ourselves at The Other quite as much as last year, we did happen to catch some great sets there, including What So Not. What So Not is an electronic music project by Australian record producer Emoh Instead (Chris Emerson), and formerly a duo with record producer Flume. In a tweet shortly after his Roo performance, What So Not tweeted:

Playing bonnaroo is something we’ve been planning for almost 4yrs. Last night my time came & everything fell into place like magic. I couldn’t even see where the crowd ended & the hype & energy you all gave was unparalleled

Doughnuts

We’ve talked about these doughnuts before, and we’re going to talk about them again. If you want to truly put something life changing into your mouth, you will go and find Peachey’s Baking Company (formerly the Amish Baking Co.), and you will buy one doughnut (actually you’ll buy more after the first one) and one pretzel. Then you will eat these fresh, hot, made on-site delicacies together to get your sweet and salty fix. Truly just a doughnut and pretzel couldn’t be as “life changing” as we hype them up to be…but they are. Trust us.

Photo by Jacklyn Citero

Photo by Jacklyn Citero

Now onto what could have been better…

Slander

Maybe Slander just wasn’t for us. Or maybe it’s just that they aren’t that good. I’m sure almost 482,000 Facebook fans would tell us otherwise, but when you first come out to a Linkin Park remix, add in some screaming into the mic about being from L.A. and that they came to “fucking party with us,” it’s that kind of set that just makes you say absolutely not, pick up your stuff, and move on to something more substantial. To the Slander fans out there, we tried with an open mind, but they’re all yours.

Tom Petty SuperJam

We’re torn on this one. The Superjam is a longstanding Bonnaroo and this year’s SuperJam was truly stacked with once-in-a-lifetime collaborative performance. Musical directors Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket and Craig Pfunder of VHS or Beta lead the celebration of the music of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Paramore’s Hayley Williams, Sheryl Crow, Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Rayland Baxter and his father Bucky Baxter, all took the stage to bring life to some Petty classics. The set highlighted the greatest hits and manifested crowd sing-a-longs, but it was lackluster and the collaborations felt forced.

Bonus:

Dear Bonnaroo, bring back more porta potties. We don’t need to go into any details, as you can imagine. Just a request to make possibly the worst thing seen (and smelled) at Roo this year, better.

 

 

Contributions from Savannah Chachas

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