The clouds opened up and the lightning came down, but no force of nature was stronger than Pearl Jam Saturday night at Bonnaroo. It had been eight years since Pearl Jam last played the Manchester, TN festival, but the wait was very much worth it. The unexpected 90 minute delay due to lightning only helped drum up anticipation. While the line up didn’t quite create the eclectic wonder and fantastic performances from Friday, Saturday had its fair share of fantastic moments.
Over 20 years later, this band has not missed a step. If anything it is hard to argue they might be at their peak right now. For over two hours they ripped through hit after hit, album after album, all the while seeming 100% invested as if they were playing their music for the first time.
Running through their mega hits “Alive,” “Betterman,” “Evenflow” and more, Pearl Jam left nothing on the table and delivered a show that cemented their status as one of the most important and talented rock bands of all time.
Eddie Vedder’s appreciation of the crowd and the moment made the band as likable as they are respected. It was a special day for Vedder as he was celebrating his daughter’s 12th birthday. He had the audience participate in singing “Happy Birthday”, by using the flashlights on their phone and having his daughter blow out her “candles.”
This was what struck me the most – Pearl Jam is easily one of the most accomplished bands playing music today yet there was zero complacency or ego radiating from the stage. Their covers of The Clash, Pink Floyd and Neil Young showed these guys were just like the tens of thousands in attendance, massive fans of rock music.
It was a show that those thousands will never forget.
Nathaniel Rateliff &The Night Sweats played the perfect time on Saturday for the perfect crowd. At 7pm, the band came on to an audience beginning to show fatigue halfway through Day Three. With their fantastic horn section and Rateliff’s infectious voice and stage presence, the audience began to move their feet and get down.
As they closed with “S.O.B,” the “Oh’s” from the audience had to be one of the loudest audience participation moments of the entire festival. Members of Leon Bridges‘ band and Bridges himself came out to play the Sweats’ massive hit. The audience was with them every step of the way.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis had the toughest luck of the festival. Just 25 minutes into his set, lightning came crashing down in the horizon and festival organizers ordered an evacuation of the festival grounds. After a 90 minute delay, Macklemore returned to a crowd half its original size but that didn’t stop the rapper from providing every bit of showmanship and energy as before.
Macklemore’s show has evolved from just him and his DJ running through their hits into quite the impressive piece of performance art. Complete with costumes, great visuals and incredibly entertaining audience participation for “Dance Off,” it is clear that Macklemore is doing everything he can to be more than a one hit wonder, but a legit performer and showman.
Chris Stapleton attracted one of the largest mid afternoon crowds in years and absolutely slayed every song. He is a true country star worthy of the Tennessee stage.
Band of Horses have evolved into true rock stars over their 10 years. They also might be the nicest band to play the festival.
Phantogram and Big Boi played an energy packed late night set until 3AM under their band name BIG GRAMS. The audience went absolutely nuts when they played their own hits “Fall in Love” and “Miss Jackson”, but this show was everything that is great about Bonnaroo, two genres completely meshing to create an amazing moment way past normal people’s bed times.
Header Image: Film Magic
Check out our Friday recap HERE.
Hook up the Bonnaroo livestream throughout this weekend by heading HERE. Stay tuned for more coverage coming through!