A look at day two of Bonnaroo 2017

U2 • photos by Bill Foster

 

Lanco • Bill Foster

Nice to meet you: Lanco

One of the great pleasures of Bonnaroo is discovering a new band on a small stage that has the potential to climb from the Miller Tent to the main stage. Such is the case with LANCO, short for Lancaster and Company. Produced by Eric Church’s producer Jay Joyce and signed to Arista, everything is aligned for the Nashville band to break out and if their stunning performance was any sign, it won’t be long. The five piece plays commercial country of a type that could become pablum in the wrong hands but is absolutely savage in theirs, straddling the rock/country divide in a way I’ve rarely heard. Before one of the larger crowds at the smaller Miller Stage, all five members leaped in the air, knelt on the stage and came to the railing to engage the crowd, at one point bring a floor tom into the middle of the crowd. None of this would matter if the songs weren’t uniformly excellent, anthemic in all the best ways and played by a band at the top of it’s game. LANCO. Remember that name because I am certain you will hear it often. – Bill Foster

Midday Highlight: D.R.A.M.

Rocking a late afternoon set on The Other stage, D.R.A.M. won over a crowd that was presumably there to see his two current radio hits “Cash Machine” and “Broccoli.” The setup included a DJ, live drums, bass, and keys, and for a hip-hop act in any live setting, especially a big festival stage, the added live element can be crucial to connect with the audience. After all, D.R.A.M. is an acronym for “Does Real A– Music,” so it would stand to reason that he would have some ‘real a—‘ music on stage with him. Although, it’s D.R.A.M.’s personality and natural inclination as an entertainer that really sets him apart. As expected, the high point was indeed his performance of “Broccoli.” During “Broccoli,” he hopped into the pit, ran up and down, high fiving the crowd with that big cheesy smile on his face, and he even grabbed from an audience member and smoked a [probably] totally normal hand-rolled cigarette with tobacco just tobacco. – Kent Oglesby

Angelique Kidjo’s Remain in Light

Sunset show: Angélique Kidjo’s Remain in Light

Angélique Kidjo is perhaps Africa’s premiere female vocalist, and the idea of her covering the Talking Heads’ Remain in Light made this the Blank crew’s most anticipated show of the festival. And, in the event, the show turned into one of those sublime moments where already sky-high expectations were exceeded. Over a stunning two-hour set, the 56-year-old Beninese vocalist sang in English, French, Yoruba, and Fon while she led a non-stop exuberant dance party, reclaiming the African rhythm’s the Talking Heads had borrowed. Kidjo twirled like Stevie Nicks wishes she could, stutter stepped and danced back and forth across the stage and brought the party into the crowd, dancing her way to the furthest reaches of That Tent while leading the crowd in a a rhythmic chant. All the while, her tight 12-piece band kept the groove going and feet moving and reminding an exhausted crowd of all the things that are best about Bonnaroo. – Bill Foster

 

U2 • Bill Foster

The Main Event: U2

As it was thirty years ago when they recorded The Joshua Tree, America was very obviously on U2’s mind in their first U.S. festival appearance. As The Waterboys “The Whole of the Moon” played, Langston’ Hughes’ “Let America be America Again” and Walt Whitman’s epic “America” scrolled on the large screen. As the words faded, U2 took the austere stage. Standing as close together as they did in the small Dublin clubs they began in and lit only by four spotlights with no video, they immediately crushed through “Sunday Bloody Sunday, New Year’s Day,” and “Pride (in the Name of Love).” Throughout the evening, Bono engaged with the crowd and talked about the promise of America. While never mentioning the current political situation, it nonetheless dominated the evening as Bono reminded everyone over and over, “The world needs America to be a city on a hill,” during “Pride.” The prelude dispensed with, U2 began the historic one-two-three punch that opens The Joshua Tree, the video system sprang to life showing single images across all three massive screens, recalling the aesthetics of the tour that turned U2 from a club act to one of the largest bands in the world. The group was in fine form, Bono’s voice clear and strong and the Edge’s ringing guitar filling the huge field.  Hearing The Joshua Tree in order as it was meant to played was an ecstatic experience as lesser known songs like “Trip Through Your Wires” and “One Tree Hill” sprang to life, highlighted by “Exit.” One wouldn’t think that “Eenie Meenie Miney Moe” could be one of the best concert moments of one’s life but I guess you had to be there. After the album, the band came back for a five song encore, teasing today’s headliner by including a bit of “Under the Bridge” during “Beautiful Day,” dedicating “Ultraviolet (Light My Way) to a series of influential women and concluding with a stunning version of “One.” – Bill Foster

 

Late Night: Big Gigantic

Over the last few years, Big Gigantic has upgraded their production in a big way. The sheer spectacle of their show was impressive, and that’s saying a lot catching them just a few hours after U2 wrapped up. The lights beamed into the audience though a sea of flags and the pyrotechnics were a really nice touch. On the music side of things, loud, pulsing bass, tight drums, and wailing sax solos, made it easy for tired legs and feet to keep dancing. Every time they built to a crescendo and the subsequent drop, everyone holding glow sticks hurled them into the air. For anyone itching to make Friday a late night, all of the energy and stimulation made it effortless. – Kent Oglesby

Car Seat Headrest

 

Glass Animals

 

Fun

 

Glass Animals Crowd

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