Top moments from Post Malone to Chappell Roan

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is always a weekend chock of live music representing a spectrum from crowd favorites to new discoveries.

This year’s festival was no different. Fans saw moving musical moments, like rising star Chappell Roan — who drew seemingly every single fan on the Farm — shine onstage and mainstays Post Malone and Red Hot Chili Peppers, who delivered fiery sets.

The weekend served up DJs, EMO SuperJams, country, blues, hip-hop and massive groovy energy.

The Tennessean staff saw as many shows as we could while still unable to clone ourselves and we’ve compiled our list of the Top 10 performances we saw.

10. Ashnikko

After a 40-minute rain delay on Sunday, Ashnikko’s 6:15 p.m. set was delayed by half an hour. When fans were allowed back into That Tent, they ravenously rushed to the barricade.

It was time for the blue-haired, pop-punk “Daisy” singer to bring her spooky hits to the ‘Roo crowd.

Surrounded by large blue tentacle-like structures and an apocalyptic hellscape on the back screen, Ashnikko took the stage with her funky cobalt hair, wearing a black top with chains, a poofy skirt and strappy boots. Her four backup dancers wore Victorian garb, one even sported a black and white neck ruff.

She started her set out with song “You Make Me Sick!” and then lead into song “STUPID,” all the while hitting every beat of her intense dance routines with a clear and eerie Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman inspiration. At one point, a fan even gifted Ashnikko a Coraline doll during the set, making her squeal with joy.

“This next song I wrote as an ode to Ms. Dolly Parton. I hope that she would approve—I’m not sure, I do talk about penis a lot,” she said. “I wrote this song before I did a whole bunch of psychedelics,” she added.

Then, Ashnikko asked if there were any working women in the crowd before singing her 2019 song “Working B****.”

Along with the crowd, she belted out, “Too tired to entertain little boys / I’m the boss of my business…I’m a working, b**** / Ain’t got no time for d***!”

9. Larkin Poe

The Grammy Award-winning sister duo of Megan and Rebecca Lovell, known collectively as Larkin Poe, was the first act on Friday to take the What Stage and told the crowd they were “so honored to be here.”

This marks the third Bonnaroo appearance for the sisters, who told The Tennessean before their show that they love this festival because they are so close to their Nashville home.

They opened with “Summertime Sunset” and “Kick the Blues” where Rebecca Lovell got the crowd singing along.

The band rolled through “Bolt Cutters & the Family Name,” “Bad Spell,” and “Strike Gold,” with Rebecca shredding her Fender guitar, Megan tearing it up on the lap steel guitar and harmonizing as only sisters could.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are from just up the road in Nashville, Tennessee, but my sister and I, we were born over in Knoxville, Tennessee,” Rebecca Lovell told the crowd. “Mountain music, traditional American blues music runs very deep in our veins and in our hearts.

We want to sing this next song for you, to pay homage to one of our biggest inspirations, Mr. Son House.”

The band brought the Mississippi Delta blues singing “I’m gonna get me some religion. I’m gonna join the Baptist church,” from House’s “Preachin’ the Blues” before Lovell said she was going to take a “left turn” and launched into “Might as Well Be Me.”

8. Pretty Lights

Headliner, DJ and producer Derek Vincent Smith, known as Pretty Lights, kicked off the main stage action on Thursday night with thumping electronic beats that ran into Friday morning with a four-hour set.

He followed that with a sunrise set at 3:30 a.m. early Sunday morning at The Other Stage.

His 8:30 p.m. Thursday set at the What Stage began just as the sun was setting over the Farm and Bonnaroovians enjoyed the first break from the day’s sweltering heat.

Pretty Lights hit the stage wearing a hat with his “PL” logo and a red short-sleeved sweatshirt.

He told the crowd, “What an honor to be in this beautiful festival on this opening night! We made a little song…the sun machine is going down and we’re trying to have a party!”

He opened the show with a sample of Willie Nelson’s “Blue Skies,” and Smith started with a song they had written “just for tonight.”

The energy escalated quickly as the drummer, keyboardist, synth player and DJ all took turns on the big screens, all the while showered by laser lights and thumping beats.

Pretty Lights also played songs “Hot Like Sauce,” “Understand Me Now,” “Up & Down I Go” and his remix of Parton’s “Jolene.”

7. Maggie Rogers

Maggie Rogers made her Bonnaroo debut Friday night at the Which Stage just as the sun began to set and a nice, cool breeze swept over the crowd.

Getting to Manchester was a long-time coming, Rogers told the crowd.

“I’ve been trying to get to this festival since I was 16,” she said from the stage. “My parents had a rule you couldn’t go to a festival until you were 18. I’m from Maryland, so this is the closest music festival. I watched my older sister back her car out of the driveway on her way to Bonnaroo… I think this might be the biggest crowd I’ve ever played to.”

Dressed in a black strappy leotard, sheer wrap skirt and tall black boots, the singer emoted a Stevie-Nicks-meets-Debbie-Harry vibe throughout her set as she sang and danced around the stage.

Her presence was free-spirited and her performance was fantastic.

She played “Love You For a Long Time” and the video screens turned into a Kiss Cam and fans cheered every time the camera found a couple taking advantage of the moment.

In addition to “I Cannot Fall in Love With You,” (which included a brief appearance by Dominic Fike) and “Give a Little,” Rogers sang a chorus of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” which was met with thunderous applause and a massive crowd singing along.

6. Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell is no stranger to Bonnaroo, having played his first show here in 2004. With his band the 400 Unit, Isbell owned the stage and the night, Sunday, as the sun set and the rain from a few hours before left a beautiful sky full of clouds illuminated by the setting sun.

“I’ve been here all week,” he told the crowd from the stage. “We’ve been having a great time. I’ve seen so many good shows this weekend. I saw Chappell Roan today and that was amazing. I saw Brittany Howard’s set and I love her so much.”

He reminisced about his first Bonnaroo show in That Tent and said he and his band didn’t sleep at all that entire weekend.

With his trademark strong guitar work and spot-on vocals, Isbell and his band (with two drummers!) took a stroll through his catalog including “Alabama Pines,” “24 Frames,” “Strawberry Woman,” “Tired of Traveling Alone,” “My Love Won’t Change,” “Cast Iron Skillet,” “This Ain’t It,” and ended with a stunning rendition of “Cover Me Up.”

5. Cage the Elephant

Cage The Elephant began their Saturday set with bursts of fire, taking the stage as the last set before headliner Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Lead singer Matt Shultz wore a red shirt and suit pants along with an “LA” baseball cap and sunglasses. Kicking off the show with song “Broken Boy,” the energetic frontman delivered gritty rock vocals—sometimes punk-like—accompanied by the band’s recognizable alternative sound.

“Bonnaroo we are Cage The Elephant! We are happy to be back. A lot of history!,” Matt Shultz said about their time at Bonnaroo. He added that they’ve had a lot of amazing experiences at ‘Roo, both as concert goers and performers.

Guitarist Brad Shultz played electric riffs as he got into the groove on “Baby Cry,” bouncing with his guitar while his brother, Matt Schultz, moved around the stage. Matt Shultz would jump, collapse, wave his hands in the air, even curl into a ball on the ground and pop back up as he sang.

Of course, the classic hits ruled the show. “Trouble,” started with singer Matt Shultz in the crowd, stealing a fan’s witch hat to wear. “Ain’t No Rest For Wicked” ended with a crazy drum riff. “Cigarette Daydreams” had the crowd screaming: “You can drive all night / Lookin’ for the answers in the pourin’ rain.”

4. Jon Batiste

If there’s an instrument that musician, singer, songwriter, composer and all-out performer Jon Batiste can’t play, fans at Bonnaroo didn’t see it Saturday night on the Farm.

During his blistering set, he moved from the acoustic guitar to electric, keyboards to samples, drums to the melodica and saxophone and finally, the piano with ease and mastery.

Donning an iridescent, gold, sequined suit, Batiste and Washington kicked the show off with “Cry,” before rolling into “Tell the Truth,” and “Freedom.” Batiste and singer Desiree Washington “Desz”, who was a force onstage, took turns singing, dancing and having the time of their lives.

He then took a moment to tell the crowd how grateful he was to be at Bonnaroo.

“It is a beautiful gift to share this with you all,” he said from the stage. But then he had to set the tone of how the next hour was going to go.

As beach balls bounced across the top of the crowd and totems waved above in the setting sun, Batiste said, “Where I’m from in New Orleans, people are not as still as you all are when we play this music. So I need to see you all moving and groovin’. Shake what your mama gave you.”

Next up was the reggae-tinged “Raindance,” and from then on out, the show turned into a full-on celebration. Batiste spliced in “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” which he played on the melodica and the crowd took care of the claps, and even teased a little “Oh When the Saints Go Marching In.”

3. Red Hot Chili Peppers

After making an impromptu stop to jam at a honky-tonk on Broadway in downtown Nashville Friday night, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith joined the rest of his bandmates to light up the What Stage at Bonnaroo Saturday night.

Chili Peppers’, singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, guitarist John Frusciante and Smith, took the stage at 10:45 p.m. Saturday night and rolled through crowd favorites as well as some newer material until after midnight.

After a cinematic pre-recorded intro, the four bandmates launched into a jam and then dropped right into the all-too familiar riff of “Can’t Stop.”

Flea, dressed in a very L.A. Lakers-themed purple man skirt with one purple and one yellow sock, told the crowd the band was grateful to be at Bonnaroo and then proceeded to steal the show with his thumping bass licks.

The show was everything fans wanted including hits “Californication,” “Under the Bridge,” “Snow” and “Give It Away.” Well, almost everything. Some fans might have missed hits such as “Scar Tissue,” “Dani California,” and “Otherside,” which were eliminated from the night’s setlist.

2. Chappell Roan

Chappell Roan’s Sunday set was a close second to Post Malone’s Friday show.

Minutes before 26-year-old pop music ‘femininomenon’ Chappell Roan—born Kayleigh Rose Amstutz—took the Bonnaroo stage on Sunday, screens showed an aerial video of her massive crowd stretching halfway through the festival’s grounds.

She started the set out with “Femininomenon,” singing “Get it hot / make it b****!” and dramatically kicked her legs with her dancing bassist and guitarist. 

“Are you ready to get naked in Manhattan, Bonnaroo?,” Roan said before singing her next song, “Naked in Manhattan.” Her soaring vocals flew over the glitzy pop music.

One highlight of Roan’s set was when she taught the crowd her “Hot To Go!” choreography, saying, “I’m gonna teach you a dance. I know it’s really hot so you don’t have to do it a lot, but you can do it with your hands!”

Club-like bass thumped during “Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl,” bringing a dancey Depeche Mode vibe to the ‘Roo crowd. She cycled through her hits and even played a new, unreleased song, “The Subway,” a sad break-up tune.

She closed out her set with hits “Red Wine Supernova,” “Good Luck, Babe!” and “My Kink is Karma,” before ending with her biggest song, “Pink Pony Club.” 

She sang the song’s fitting lyrics, “Don’t think I’ve left you all behind / Still love you and Tennessee!”

1. Post Malone

Post Malone’s Friday night performance was the show of the weekend.

With a charismatic strut, Malone appeared onto What Stage at 11 p.m. with a red Solo cup in hand and a smile on his face. Bonnaroo’s 2024 Friday night headliner was ready to deliver.

The hip-hop and pop artist thanked the Bonnaroo fans for coming, complimented the crowd’s signs and totems, and chugged his beer.

Malone’s tight 20-song set included plenty of moody strings, ample fireworks and gusts of fireballs, and a surprise appearance from guitarist Billy Strings. Malone’s gritty, flickering voice shone.

“Make some noise for our special guest tonight, Billy mother***ing strings,” he shouted. In response, Billy Strings said, “I just wanna say one thing,” and shouted, “Yeee!” Malone said he couldn’t have said it better himself.

Afterwards, the duo performed a slow, acoustic version of Malone’s 2018 song “Stay.” Billy Strings layered acoustic finger-picking and sonic guitar flutters underneath Malone’s raspy voice. The two worked off one another with ease, breathing a new life into one of Malone’s most vulnerable songs.

Post’s performance ended with fireworks galore and a three-song encore.

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