The Best Bonnaroo Performances of All-Time
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Bonnaroo will be celebrating its 18th year in the festival circuit this summer. With that, we’re taking a trip down memory lane and looking back at some of the best performances that have taken place on the 700-acre farm of Great Stage Park. Read on for some of Bonnaroo’s best moments on the main stage.
Bruce Springsteen (2009)
Bruce was born to run, and also born to blow away the audience at the 2009 Bonnaroo Festival with an undeniably stellar set. Backed by the E Street Band, Springsteen commanded the stage with a killer set, including his beloved cover of “Santa Claus is Coming To Town.” He even invited Phish to share the stage and play “Badlands” and “Glory Days” alongside him. His 28-song-long set undeniably pulled out all the stops, and proved that The Boss can still rock (and roll). His 2009 Bonnaroo performance goes down as one of the greatest of all time.
Beastie Boys (2009)
While the Beastie Boys are known for shouting into the mic, their 2009 Bonnaroo set gave them opportunity to showcase their instrumental abilities. The trio took to the chance, performing jammy renditions of their hits like “Sabrosa” and “Heart Attack Man” before inviting fellow hip-hop giant Nas to the stage to round out their set. While it ended with a choppy, out of sync performance of “Sabotage,” in true Beastie fashion, they exited the stage defiantly, owning the more human side of live music. While some saw it as a flop, others saw it as raw, authentic, imperfect live rap music, and true to the Beastie Boy name.
Paul McCartney (2013)
Frontman, bassist, and knight Sir Paul McCartney took to the Farm in 2013 for one of his marathon performances. Known for not taking a single breaks between his three-hour-long sets, McCartney delivered just that for the massive Bonnaroo crowd. He performed 38 songs total, along with several encores – all within three hours. He played hit after hit, and ended his set with a mammoth sing along to “Hey Jude” that brought the crowd together in harmony. For being 71 years old at the time, McCartney took the stage with the same vigor and life as he did during his Beatles days.
Tame Impala (2016)
Many Bonnaroovians were lucky enough to witness Tame Impala’s incredible 2016 Bonnaroo performance (in fact, a crowd of over 45,000 people were in attendance). But little did that crowd know that the beloved psych rock powerhouse would go on to take an almost five-year hiatus from touring and releasing new music. Tame Impala gave an impeccable live show on the main stage, playing hit after hit. “Let It Happen,” “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” and “Why Won’t They Talk To Me” all made the cut for their Bonnaroo setlist, giving their avid fans one last taste of their high-energy live shows. Shortly thereafter, the band went on to take an indefinite respite from music.
Fortunately, Tame Impala has made quite a return to the music scene in recent months, with the announcement of a North American tour and the impending release of their highly anticipated new album, The Slow Rush. More importantly, they’ll be headlining this year’s edition of Bonnaroo.
Childish Gambino (2019)
Childish Gambino’s 2019 Bonnaroo performance was artful, powerful, and poignant – and proved that Donald Glover can really do it all. A comedian, writer, musician, and performer, Glover is really a jack-of-all-trades, and his headlining set at Bonnaroo demonstrated just that. Riding the wave of his single “This Is America,” he performed material from every stage of his musical career thus far. From his early rapping days (how can we forget his rendition of 3005?) to his funk-soul masterpiece, Awaken, My Love!, fans got a sampling of everything that makes the music of Donald Glover nothing short of spectacular. He krumped, howled and shaked his way into Bonnaroo history as one of the most prolific performances the festival has ever seen.
Official Bonnaroo tickets go on sale on January 9. There are several ticket types, tiers, and add-ons, so be sure to check out all of your options. Four-day general admission passes start at $319 plus fees. Looking to shop around, or waiting until summer gets closer to secure your plans? You can always find tickets on SeatGeek! Use code BONNAROO20 at checkout for $20 off your ticket purchase. Browse tickets here or view select listings below.