Yes, another Bonnaroo has come and gone. As of Monday morning, the one-time farm in Manchester, Tenn., was in its usual post-festival state of deshabillé, the grass matted and muddy, the cleanup crews in full battle formation. There were plenty of highlights, although yours will no doubt be different from mine and mine from the next guy’s, because there’s always way too much to see. My biggest personal regret was not getting out to the Latino Alternativo stage on Saturday, hosted and headlined by Ozomatli and featuring Bomba Estéreo, Nortec Collective, and others. I plead heat exhaustion. I’m glad I did force myself to stay out for Jay-Z later that night (I was still operating on three hours of sleep after being up too late at LCD Soundsystem on Friday). It’s always fun to see someone take command of the festival’s huge main stage the way Hova did, and it was gratifying to know that the Bonnaroo crowd, however you might characterize it, knows all the words to “Big Pimpin’.” But it wasn’t all big names from far-flung places. As usual, there was a healthy quota of Knoxville acts.
Talk About Your Big Love: Jonathan Sexton had a pretty good Bonnaroo. The Knoxville singer-songwriter played two sets on the festival’s small showcase stages last weekend with his band, the Big Love Choir. In between those, he spent all day Friday hugging his way to a world record—at a booth set up to help raise money for Nashville flood victims, he gamely embraced 8,709 festivalgoers, setting a new mark for most documented hugs in a 24-hour period. As if that weren’t enough, he capped off the occasion by dropping to one knee and proposing marriage to his girlfriend and band member, Elodie Lafont. She by all accounts accepted happily, giving him the hug he probably cared most about that day.
Kiss Kiss Royal Bangs: Meanwhile, the slimmed-down lineup that now makes up the Royal Bangs played the hell out of their own Friday night showcase set. Making a ruckus and drawing an after-midnight crowd to the centrally-located Troo Music Lounge, the tight trio of Ryan Schaefer, Sam Stratton and Chris Rusk answered whatever questions might linger about their decision to downsize from a quintet. They were focused and furious, with just enough room in their grooves to count as dance music. (It made them a good warm-up for the post-punk funk of LCD Soundsystem, who played at a nearby tent a few hours later.) The Bangs are already booked for another festival later this summer: Lollapalooza in Chicago on Aug. 7. On the evidence of their Bonnaroo show, they’ll be more than ready.
Representing: One of the reliably nice things about Bonnaroo is the way the large number of Knoxvillians who are always there come out to support the local acts. It would be easy to skip somebody you can see at a club several times a year in favor of, say, Tokyo Police Club or the Gaslight Anthem. Both of those bands’ sets overlapped with Jill Andrews’ hour at the Cafe Where tent Friday afternoon, but the tent’s tables and chairs were full, and Knoxvillians were a big reason why. (Among them, Todd Steed and Bonnaroo co-producer Ashley Capps.) Andrews made the trek across the main lawn worthwhile, with warm renditions of songs new and old (including some of the everybodyfields catalog). Capps also made a point of promoting Jonathan Sexton’s hug-a-thon, and posted photos of the Sexton-Lafont wedding proposal on his Facebook page.