On the last day of Bonnaroo, I awoke on an entirely different planet. The mystical Swedish group Goat beamed me up with their otherworldly performance. Their sound meets somewhere between psych rock and afro-beat, and their outfits range from modern ninjas to hippie shamans. The band itself claims to be one of many incarnations of a musical tradition they say started in their alleged voodoo-worshiping hometown of Korpilombo, Sweden. Whether or not those allegations are fact, fiction or somewhere in between, their live show was a spectacle regardless. With a unique instrumentation of duo female lead singers, multiple hand percussion, drums, and a few guitars, Goat entranced with their enigmatic sound and garb. The barefoot-clad lead vocalists wore enormous head-encasing masks and boasted a riveting blend alternating between battle cry and intense whisper. It was an impressive show from a lesser-known band. Check out Goat for something different and innovative.
Sunday was a day for solid shows, well upheld by the Arctic Monkeys. They hit the main-stage during a sweltering late afternoon set, and delivered coolly slick performance. Lead singer Alex Turner, coiffed to perfection, brought a controlled intensity to their practiced tight sound. They made for a great afternoon pick-up, with plenty of new songs mixed in with old standards. They’re the kind of live act that you simply don’t have to worry about; they’re dependable without losing an edge of excitement. I do think the climate of the audience would be even more fun at a smaller venue, but alas, indie rock has hit it big.
The entire festival concluded with another a fellow Brit, this time a knighted one. Sir Elton John kicked the topped off the festival with a splendid two and a half hour set. Performing at his first American festival ever, sir Elton and his crisp band reminded us why he’s a wee bit of a legend. Dressed to kill softly in his lightly bedazzled navy suit, he delivered a heartfelt performance with impressively stable vocals from such a tour-heavy career. Pick a classic, any classic; he sang pretty much all of them. Halfway through the spectacle, Ben Folds made a guest appearance and played Gray Seal. An indie successor in some regards, Folds was in fine form as he ecstatically soloed over the song and sang a few verses. The show as a whole had somewhat of a grounding effect, seeing such a seasoned performer still willing and able to give it his all onstage for thousands. It was a beautiful first for Elton John and a lovely end for everyone listening.