Words and Photos by Stephen Taylor
Friday was another beautiful day on the farm. Temperatures reached a mid-day high of 85 degrees, which is plenty to sweat about in a field, but about all you can hope for in the south in June. The weekend warrior masses descended on Bonnaroo ready for Sir Paul’s debut on What Stage. McCartney conducted a 2.5 hour, career spanning set, cycling between his Rickenbacker bass, lead guitar, and piano. He ended his Wings hit, “Let Me Roll It” with a long, left handed guitar solo that segued into a “Foxy Lady”-esque jam, which he later dedicated to Hendrix, who he credited for learning every song on Sgt. Peppers in two days after its original release and covering it in a London club.
See below for other highlights from Friday:
Amadou & Mariam
The blind husband and wife couple from Mali treated That Tent to a late afternoon African dance extravaganza. From the jump, the rolling afro-beat and blues numbers entranced everyone inside and drew hundreds more passing by. The pair stands stoic, barely moving a muscle in front of their band, but their presence is affirmed through Mariam’s beautiful French, call and response singing and Amadou’s shredding of his golden Telecaster.
As the crowd filled in following McCartney’s final round of fireworks, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Lettuce took the stage to perform a medley of perfectly executed James Brown numbers, including “Funky Drummer” and “Payback.” During this segment, and throughout the night, Lettuce drummer Adam Deitch was the star on stage, effortlessly impersonating a drum machine and reading cues from the many guests. Solange also shined with her cover of the Fugees’ rendition of “Killing Me Softly.” The close of the show was orchestrated by RZA, Redman, and Method Man, who dropped crowd pleasers from the Wu-Tang catalog (“Triumph”, “C.R.E.A.M.”, etc.) for the second time that day after the rap ensemble’s Which Stage set. This time, however, the songs had a very different feel with Lettuce at the helm and it was clear that the Staten Islanders were impressed.
In possibly the best scheduling decision of the weekend, Animal Collective began their This Tent set at 2 AM to a packed house and played a two hour set. As festival attendees across the world have witnessed before, Animal Collective’s brand of spacey headphone music does not usually translate well under the hot afternoon sun. Late night at Bonnaroo is the perfect place for these freaks and the crowd absolutely ate it up. Without a recent LP release, the setlist spanned their catalog. The night’s peak moments were Feels’ “Did You See The Words”, Fall Be Kind’s “What Would I Want? Sky”, and Merriweather Post Pavilion’s “My Girls” & “Brothersport.” The band has largely spent time on solo projects for the past year, but sounded more in sync than ever, nailing their changes and extending songs into rave-y sequences. Highlight of Bonnaroo’s first half for this guy.