Atomic Bomb! Who is William Onyeabor?
Clearly, unquestionably, without a shred of doubt, Atomic Bomb! was the best show of Bonnaroo 2015. We don’t give that title away lightly but when you leave a show drenched in sweat from dancing non-stop with a smile on your face, you have no choice. Atomic Bomb! was a super jam of sorts that included a 15-person ensemble featuring Sudanese bandleader Sinkane, soul singer Jamie Lidell, Pat Mahone among others, all paying tribute to Nigerian electronic funk pioneer William Onyeabor. Playing standout tracks such as “When the Going is Smooth & Good” the members of Atomic Bomb! smiled on stage as much as he audience under That Tent did. These are the type of hidden gems that make Bonnaroo what it is, the greatest music festival in the land.
Although this band got their start in 2005, it was their 2009 album Songs of Shame, which got them attention and landed them on Pitchfork’s Best New Music list. The band has since then released four new albums. Their sound – somewhere between The War on Drugs, STS9 and VHS or Beta – made them the perfect jam band for Bonnaroo. Sexy high-pitched vocals over badass guitar riffs set the right mood for what was to follow the rest of the night.
Kerry King and company brought the pain on Saturday night making for one hell of a metal show. Playing a career spanning set, Slayer kept the head bangers and security workers busy for their blistering one hour set. Keeping the stage banter to a minimum, Slayer poured through song after song giving the masses their speed metal fix for the weekend. For a brief moment when Slayer stopped to catch their breath, the bass from the electronic stage Kalliope boomed through to which bassist / vocalist Tom Araya gave a priceless scowl and look of disgust, a look my Dad would’ve been proud of. Standout tracks and there were many included “Seasons in the Abyss,” “Raining Blood,” and “Dead Skin Mask.” The metal legends came to Bonnaroo, and conquered Bonnaroo. Not to mention guitarist Gary Holt had the best T-shirt of the weekend that read, “Kill the Kardashians”
Belle & Sebastian
A warm-up for Atomic Bomb, Scottish indie outfit Belle & Sebastian finally made a long overdue appearance at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Fifteen minutes into their set, Mad Men star John Hamm made a cameo feeding gummy bears to Stuart Murdoch, which made for an interesting early set break. From that point on it was all business, albeit in a fun and energetic way, for Belle & Sebastian as evident by front man Stuart Murdoch’s dancing with the crowd. Everything about the Glasgow quartet was fun and entertaining including the stage visuals. They don’t tour much so seeing them is a real treat and one you should take advantage before their disappear for another decade.
Gary Clark Jr.
Catfish and the Bottlemen