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Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

He’s a ghost, he’s a god, he’s a man, he’s a guru, and he’s also one heck of a funny, sarcastic cat when he wants to be. With what amounted to Nick Cave didn’t get the draw befitting such a legendary performer when he was matched up against Frank Ocean, the Flaming Lips and Skrillex during the first round of Saturday late-night shows. Or maybe he did. Only a couple hundred people were in place by the dark king of post-rock’s 12:30 a.m. start time, some of whom said they were there to get close for Darkside’s set to follow, but Cave haunted the stage like a vengeful spirit, offering up songs from as far back as 1985’s Tupelo, pushing out the bass bleed from Skrillex with a rowdy sing-along on “Red Right Hand”, and introducing a throng of new listeners to his newest masterpiece, 2013’s Push the Sky Away.

Cave’s summoned his audience together into a tight fist, looming over them, holding their hands, and turning good trips down the darkest places of the mind with a sharp look and a twisted word. He cut his encore of the meditative “We Real Cool” mid-song because of the noise from other tents, and instead ended with the noisy screamer “Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry”. He he wasn’t about to hide his contempt for his timeslot competition, either. “There’s not many of you here,” he said earlier. “That’s okay, we’ve got the cream of the crop. F— those other mother f—ers.”

Die Antwoord

The transgressive rave-rap duo of Die Antwoord were not for the faint of heart in their first Bonnaroo appearance. Anyone near the front was likely to be spat on, flipped the bird or kicked in the head by its crowd-surfing frontman Ninja. Then again, anyone in the front embraced it because that’s exactly what they came to experience.

Jon Batiste & the Stay Human Band

Was 1 in the afternoon too early to cry?

It took a hard heart to hold back from Jon Batiste’s campfire-style sing- and humalong of “America the Beautiful”. Batiste and his band paraded into their audience Mardi Gras-style and closed with the Ray Charles version of the standard, full of soul and grace.

The Bluegrass Situation Superjam, hosted by Ed Helms

While Elton John gave a rather fitting end to Bonnaroo shortly after, Ed Helms called on all of his friends for the Bluegrass


Anyone who stayed in place all of Saturday night for both Nick Cave and Darkside, the dark ambient duo of Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington, likely left with their third eye wide open as the Sunday morning rose. Darkside’s hyper-mesmeric excursions into the most psychedelic corners of the David Gilmour oeuvre were fueled by the Floyd homage couched inside every one of Harrington’s shimmering licks, Jaar’s extrasensory connection to his audience’s needs at 3 a.m., freight trains of tribal bass that came from nowhere and everywhere at once, and a huge, slowly revolving mirror controlled by Jaar that grinned like an evil eye when it aligned with the light beam behind it.

Situation’s grand finale — the Avett Brothers, Lake Street Dive, Bryan Sutton, Dierks Bentley and more all joined together to sing Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley’s “I’ve Had the Time of My Life”.