Ten More of the Greatest Performances in Bonnaroo History

I recently curated a list of the ten best performances to ever happen at Bonnaroo. Making this list was not easy; over the years there have been so many memorable and mind-blowing sets to occur on The Farm. Getting it down to ten was difficult, as I found myself swapping artists out only to put them back on the list. There are easily 100+ performances that should be honored, but I just don’t have that type of time to put a list that big together. So here are the ten other greatest performances in Bonnaroo history

20. The Flaming Lips – 2010

The Flaming Lips have become a Bonnaroo staple. Their live shows are always over the top and feature wild visuals and spectacular crowd interaction. Wayne Coyne and friends played the farm in 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2014, but their 2010 performance manages to stand out above the rest. That year they covered Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety on top of 14 of their own songs.

19. Tame Impala – 2016

Some fans were disappointed that Tame Impala didn’t fill their two-hour set and only played for an hour and a half, but that hour and a half was absolutely magical. Bonnaroo was one of the first festivals to book Tame in a headliner-level spot. Kevin Parker and friends didn’t hold back during their late-night set; there were enough lasers and confetti to fill an arena.

18. Alabama Shakes – 2015

A sunset set to end all sunset sets. Brittany Howard brought and gave us her everything, and the crowd felt every inch of her heart. I don’t think I’ve ever been moved to full-on baby-level tears by a voice in my life, but Brittany Howard managed to make them stream down my cheeks. When I turned to my friends after that song, we all had matching looks. I had to catch my breath after every song.

17. Kings of Leon – 2005

Years before the group made it to national stardom, they played a midday tent set at Bonnaroo. This was a raw rock performance to its absolute core.

16. Phish – 2009

Not only had both Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon played Bonnaroo with other post-Phish bands, but 2009 was the first time that Phish officially played the music festival. Their three-hour set was kicked off by a nearly thirty-minute romp through “Chalk Dust Torture” and “Divided Sky.” Vibes were high, and so was the crowd. This was a wild time.

15. Arcade Fire – 2011

If you have ever been to an Arcade Fire show you can attest to this band’s ability to perform live. Their 2011 headlining set at Bonnaroo was one for the ages. They played through songs from FuneralThe Suburbs and Neon Bible, reaching its peak during their encore featuring “Wake Up” into “Sprawl II.”

14. Earth, Wind & Fire – 2015

Bring back the late-night legends sets! Late night on the farm has turned into an EDM lover’s paradise. Lasers, smoke, and bass take over Centeroo at night more than ever before, but no matter how deep that bass is, it will never compare to the absolute musical prowess that eminated from the Which Stage in 2015. Earth, Wind & Fire even brought out Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper during their set; this was Bonnaro magic at its best.

13. Mumford and Sons – 2015

2015 was one of the best lineups that Bonnaroo has ever had, and that year was wallpapered with amazing performances. Easily one of the best that year was Mumford and Sons. The band was originally set to headline in 2013, but, due to health issues, they had to cancel their set. They took the main stage knowing they had to make it up to fans, and they did not disappoint. They closed their set with a SuperJam-style cover of “With a Little Help from my Friends” which featured My Morning Jacket, Dawes, Hozier, The War on Drugs, Danny Clinch, and Ed Helms.

12. Jay Z – 2010

The first and only time that Jay-Z ever played Bonnaroo has gone down as one of the most celebrated rap performances in history. Thinking about the sing-along to “Young Forever” still manages to cover fans in goosebumps. The GOAT played a 28-song set that ran through his sprawling discography including “A Dream,” “Thank You,” and “Izzo,” which was mixed with the Jackson 5’s “ABC.”

11. LCD Soundsystem – 2016

The lowest attendance year in Bonnaroo history had one of the greatest live performances of all time. Not one person who was at LCD Soundsystem‘s 2016 show did not have their mind blown into a billion pieces. I went into this set as a skeptic and that they did not deserve headlining status. I left an absolute believer. The massive disco ball, the fireworks, the lights: it was everything you could ask for and more.

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