Bonnaroo 2012′s Top Five Moments

Lyndsey Parker
Music Fests

From June 7-10, for the 11th year in a row, a 700-acre farm in the middle of Manchester, Tennessee, became the virtual village known as the massive Bonnaroo musicfest--complete with its own post office, free daily newspaper, on-site radio station, hippie-bazaar shopping center, foodtruck oasis, gaming arcade, movie theater, waterslide, yoga studio, arts workshop, and of course, 10 stages of nonstop music and comedy. Really, why would anyone ever want to pack up and leave? But sadly, Bonnaroo 2012 has come to an end.

[PHOTOS: Live at Bonnaroo 2012]

However, the memories will last a lifetime, or at least until Bonnaroo 2013, thanks to the Interweb. So without further ado, here are the most memorable moments of this year's festival.


Long before Lady Gaga was suiting up in sirloin, incubating in space-eggs, swinging from bloody VMA chandeliers, or setting bathhouses and pianos aflame, there was original shock-rocker Alice Cooper. So when Alice played Bonnaroo's packed That Tent on Saturday, the theatrical showman paid homage to the Lady with a rocking, rollicking cover of "Born This Way," accompanied by a gigantic Gaga monster bedecked in yellow CAUTION tape and cola-can hair-curlers (a la her "Telephone" video). But before anyone assumes that this was a diss, keep in mind that Alice has gone on record as a major Gaga fan, even dubbing her the "female version" of himself. So Alice is definitely one of her little monsters--it's just when it comes to the monsters on his stage, he likes 'em big. Check out "Frankengaga's" appearance around the 4:20 mark.


"I'm going to do every hit I've ever had," country legend Kenny announced at the start of his Sunday set in the Other Tent, and he sure wasn't kidding: "The Gambler," "Islands In The Stream," and "Lucille" were among the many classics on his setlist. But when he played his smash ballad "Lady," he was joined by a surprise duet partner: Lionel Richie, the song's writer and a recent crossover country star himself. Lionel then stayed onstage to sing his '80s signature song "All Night Long," with Kenny joining in. Fiesta, forever! (Side note: Later that night, Kenny made a cameo with festival-closers Phish for a "Gambler" reprise.)


The recently reunited Beach Boys (Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks) ironically played on Bonnaroo's only gray and gloomy day, Sunday. But somehow their classic sunshine anthems--"California Girls," "Surfin' USA," "Good Vibrations," and many more--kept the downpours at bay during their 90-minute set on the main stage. However, that didn't stop a plucky troupe of amateur umbrella dancers from breaking our their Sanrio animal parasols, for what just might have been THE cutest feelgood audience moment of Bonnaroo 2012.


After a long absence from the concert circuit, troubled and reclusive neo-soulman D'Angelo made a surprise appearance at the Roots' Saturday night Superjam in This Tent; it was his first U.S. stage performance in 12 years. Working his voodoo and treating thrilled spectators to an epic 75-minute revue of Hendrix, Funkadelic, Sly Stone, Zeppelin, and Beatles covers, D'Angelo proved that he is truly, finally back.


It wasn't all legacy artists making news at Bonnaroo: There were also many baby buzz bands, like Southern soul combo Alabama Shakes, whose debut album Boys & Girls is already one of the most critically praised releases of this year. The Shakes made a grand entrance when they headlined This Tent on Bonnaroo's kickoff night, Thursday, but they made an even grander exit, when frontwoman Brittany Howard left the stage and led special guests the Soul Rebels Brass Band in a Mardi Gras-style parade across the Bonnaroo field. That sure was a pretty tough act for the rest of the weekend's artists to top.

Honorable Mentions:

--Comedian Reggie Watts wanders the grounds, offering festival attendees various degrees of sunscreen protection from his handy SPF toolbelt

-- tUnE-yArDs play an original live score in the cinema tent during a screening of silent Buster Keaton films

-- Radiohead excitingly hint that they collaborated with Jack White in nearby Nashville this week

-- Ben Folds asks everyone in the audience to flip him the middle finger, while he stands on his piano and takes a crowd photo

-- Feist plays a soundcheck early Thursday afternoon, as a surprise welcome for arriving festival attendees

-- Rapper Yelawolf honors the Beastie Boys' late Adam Yauch with a cover of "Fight For Your Right To Party"

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