Bonnaroo 2019 Day Two: Childish Gambino’s ‘Best,’ Solange Witnesses, SuperJam Homage

Childish Gambino

Childish Gabino, one of 2019s headliners, packed the What Stage and proclaimed from the stage that “This is the best show I’ve ever played” — a sentiment heard throughout the festival. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Bonnaroo)

See Also: Bonnaroo 2019 Sells Out With 80K Tickets; Day 1 Takeaways
See Also: Bonnaroo 2019 Day Three: Jim James, Post Malone, Kacey Musgraves, Leaving Centeroo

The Roo Is Really Sold-Out
Though we’re not the best crowd estimators, Friday, at times, felt like there was double the amount of people from Thursday with Bonnaroo’s first sell-out since 2013 with some 80k tickets sold. Witness Childish Gambino’s packed 8 p.m. set which made the What stage all but impenetrable from every direction. But he was the only artist, of the many great shows, where it felt stuffed. Even Phish, arguably the fest’s spirit animal, was easier to dip in (and noodle dance to for a few extended Anastasio modal solos) and out of.

Fest Headliner of the Summer
Leave it to Childish Gambino, one of this summer’s biggest festival headliners, to use a scissor lift in the crowd as a way to make his entrance at Bonnaroo Friday night. His high energy set didn’t stop there, as he moved through a set of funk/hip hop that laid into what it means to young, alive and engaged. Yes, the man is beyond perfect with his shirt off, but it was the passion and poetry that ignited the meadow in front of the That Stage. The man named Donald Glover actually owned it, saying, “This is the best show I’ve ever played” (a sentiment widely echoed, including by Girl Talk at 3:00 a.m. on the That stage) and you could see it all from out front. And he could feel it from on top of the moment complete with pyrotechnics to close out the day’s biggest performance. 


Phish Face: Trey Anastasio of Phish, who are an essential part of Bonnaroo’s history, rock the What Stage on June 14, 2019 . (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Bonnaroo)

Something Phishy
Beyond headlining two of the four nights, Trey Anastasio & Co. christen their SiriusXM station with a bow from the Farm. Leave it to the band who defines the next generation of jam band-age to take their ethos to satellite radio with an event that reflects the culture their music hath wrought. While the Roo’s not streaming this year, the Phishers are.

Industry Buzz:
Superflyers are already looking ahead to next week’s Comedy ClusterFest in San Francisco in partnership with Comedy Central and Another Planet. Lotta tribes gathering for the laughter wave that features Amy Poehler, John Mulaney, Patton Oswald, Leslie Jones, The Roots and way, way more. June 21-21 at the Civic Center Plaza and the Bill Graham Civic — see those Superflies coast-to-coast!

Griz Bonnaroo SuperJam

A Proper Homage: GRiZ with Nicholas Petricca of Walk the Moon and the Music City Mystique drum line rocked the merde out of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” at the G.O.A.T. SuperJam. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Bonnaroo)

The Kids At The G.O.A.T. SuperJam Are Alright

While this year’s SuperJam, billed the Greatest of All Time, perhaps didn’t have the star power of previous years (members of Phish, Metallica, the Roots, John Oates, and so many others), it was way more NextGen. More importantly, the musicianship and respect to music’s legacy was off the charts. This included covers of: Dick Dale’s “Miserlou,” Dr. John’s “Right Place Wrong Time,” Sharon Jone’s “This Land Is Your Land” with Deva Mehal, Mac Miller’s “DANG!” with Probcause and Chrishira Perrier, K Flay doing Nirvana’s “Lithium,” Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” with  Hobo and RK Bass & Drums, Avicci’s “Wake Me Up” with Noah Kahan and the Music City Mystique Drumline and especially Walk the Moon’s  Nicholas Petricca nailing Freddie Mercury and David Bowie on “We Will Rock You, “Under Pressure” and “Let’s Dance” — showed a reverence for the original songs and stellar musicianship.  Led by the bubbly sax and vocalist Griz, the reveal at set’s end with the realization that all the artists covered had passed was a head exploding and poignant. And putting up each artist on the video screen behind the stage was an elegant homage and stark reminder of all the great musicians we’ve loved and lost for this inspiring a super sweet Superjam.

Bonnaroo fan

Life’s Rich Pagentry: 2019 Bonnaroo festival goer clad in regalia allegedly from the production for roller broadway Production of “Starland Express”

Life’s Rich Silvery Pageantry
More people means more colorful pageantry And it was by leaps and bounds on day two. This fabulous gentleman, who we met on the port-o-potty line and asked if he was Diaperman, gave a resounding “no!” He explained that his and his friends’ costumes were from the original silver lame from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s 70s Broadway roller-skating classic “Starlight Express.” We happily stand corrected and in awe. And speaking of silver lame, the hip-hop massive Brockhampton kicked out the hip-hop pop from the Which Stage looking a lot like the Spinners, while huge throng of millennials sang along to every word. Also witness the woman who paired a floor length skirt made entirely of Christmas tinsel with a silver paillette-covered drum major’s hat. A walking mirror femme, she threw light and reflected the Gambino set-ending fireworks while gyrating to the music. This is a year of much body glitter, thin ballerina toe-shoe criss-cross wrapping up calves and thighs, creative pasties, rainbow fishnets and unicorn horns. Though the last year’s short tutus seem to have given way to longer see-through skirts, providing perhaps more psuedocoverage, but just as much peekaboo ballerina reveal.

Long Live Rock
In the day light, a sledgehammer was forged during back-to-back sets on the large What stage with Rival Son’s serrating rock performance and the British Catfish and the Bottleman, who were more melodious and hook-laden.The latter has a bit of that Cool Britania Gallagher vocal combined with St. Paul Westerberg that’s an undeniable combination; the former just plain rawks.  And then Courtney Barnett brought a no-frills, play like you mean it set to That Tent. A big presence, she uses her vocals and songcraft to bring it awesomely.

Bonnaroo Signs

Sign Sign Everywhere a Sign
Hundreds if not thousands bring long poles with signs atop them to meet with friends at shows—and some are the funniest damn things you’ve ever seen.  Such as Bring Back Yeezy (a Kanye reference); two dolphins mating with the words “Intensive Porpoises;” the late and painting instructor on TV Bob Ross with a colorful painting of cannabis; Will Farrell as Mugatu in “Zoolander” with the words “So Hot Right Now!” — and of course a watermelon with Post Malone’s face on it.

Weather Is Here:

Exquisitely beautiful, this year is neither the broiling heat — nor the rain that creates the hip-sinking mud. Blue skies, gentle breeze, bright sun. And at night, the moon works like a silver sun over the undulating crowd.

Spirit of Solange:
Only the whip-thin Solange can offer up a Christian witness starting from church camp revulsion by a chaperone’s extreme embrace of speaking in tongues to her personal depletion after releasing A Seat at the Table and inviting the Spirit in, then seamlessly pivot into this being the year she’s not wearing a top where her “titties are flopping out.” Beyond the personal, though, was an arty, avant soul set that was equal parts cool jazz, aural layers and often synchronized movement against a stark white stage with stairs for the dancers and a recessed box for the drums.  Once again attesting to his great taste, Ashley Capps of A.C. Entertainment was seen in the pit head nodding along with a huge smile.

Deep Fried Orgasms:
Not quite potstickers, nor classic pierogies, Humpty’s Dumplings deep fries dough wrappers filled with cheese steak fixings, Asian pork, buffalo chicken, broccoli cheese, even Vegan Burrito stuffing, as well as apple pie filling. A delectable little nugget that is three-to-five nibbles of too many decadences merging — and consumable on the hoof. You may not need a cigarette when you’re done, but you’ll be satisfied in a — as the French would say — amusee bouche kind of way.