Festival Review: Sunday at Bonnaroo 2016 – Manchester, Tennessee (12.06.16)

Sunday marked the final day of Bonnaroo and there was little mercy on the crowd as temperatures reached the highest they had been for the four day festival. The sweltering heat didn’t prevent a stacked lineup from wonderfully wrapping up the 15th edition of one of the best festivals in the world.

Sunday is the shortest day of the festival and the lineup this year shied way from any EDM or hip hop acts and instead, had a very heavy influence of country, bluegrass and much nostalgia. It all wrapped with the supergroup Dead and Company playing a massive four hour set in classic “Dead” form.

A clear cloud was cast over the festival due to the horrible tragedy that took place in Orlando, Florida the previous night as 50 people were killed at a gay night club. Many artists took the opportunity and platform to dedicate songs, prayers and spread messages of hope and unity to honour the ones lost.

If there ever was a way to describe a rock star of having “It”, the textbook definition would be Father John Misty. Joshua Tillman, might have the greatest stage presence of any artist I have ever seen. His use of his body flowing to the music and moving around on stage is as entertaining and captivating as the music he is playing.

His band is outstanding and his vocals might be better than [on] his studio albums. However, it is the way he commands every single member of the audience’s attention that makes him a must see act. As the show goes on, Misty is as hilarious as he is insightful. His lyrics have always been so poignant and creative, but Misty didn’t miss any moments to make a joke. At one point, he paused the show to say how excited he is to be “Playing in front of thousands of college kids high on mushrooms,” and also to point out what a huge fan he was on the inflatable blow up doll bouncing on top of the audience’s hands.

It was an absolute thrill seeing him play this show and I will not pass up an opportunity to see him play live ever again.

Third Eye Blind – a wonderful nostalgic choice for the programmers of Bonnaroo to make. Not in their wildest dreams could they have imagined the massive crowd that gathered at the smallest tent of Bonnaroo.

Stephen Jenkins and Third Eye Blind relished the opportunity and dug deep and far back in their collection to deliver a wonderful set as the sun came down for the last time on the 2016 festival. Playing “Motorcycle Drive By,” “Jumper,” and “Semi Charmed Life,” the crowd erupted after every familiar song and they still knew every word years later.

The idea of John Mayer joining the surviving members of The Grateful Dead minus bassist Phil Lesh for a tour can seem very confusing and out of nowhere. With every song of the marathon set the Dead and Company performed though, it was clear Mayer was right where he belonged.

There was no more appropriate a place than Bonnaroo for what happened on Sunday night. Everything that comes with the stigma of the Dead is found at Bonnaroo; the love of blending all genres of music, the love of peace and love, and the love of jamming long into the night.

This set was everything you can expect from a Grateful Dead show. The audience joined along as they played “Casey Jones,” “Playing in the Band”, and more. They absolutely thrived in front of the massive crowd which relished the opportunity to be seeing them.

It was the absolute best way to close out a Bonnaroo.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS…

Death Cab For Cutie played in front of a giant crowd right before Dead and Company came out. They were in great form, ripping through their solid singles from their most recent album while mixing in old hits like “Soul Meets Body,” “I Will Possess Your Heart,” and even dedicating “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” to Chance the Rapper, who requested it backstage. But closing the set with “Transatlanticism” though, was an absolute perfect choice.

The Louisiana indie pop band Givers played an energy packed set that got the crowd dancing, despite the 2pm time slot and ridiculous heat.

Jason Isbell played a fantastic, complete set ranging from slow country ballads to pure Southern rock, perfectly appropriate for Tennessee.

Header Image: Brian Hensley Photography

Check out our Friday recap HERE and Saturday’s highlights HERE