Bonnaroo 2012 Reviewed + Ranked Bands/Musicians

Bonnaroo 2012 Reviewed + Ranked

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List Criteria: Ranked by how much I dug the set, basically.

Reviews, videos, and setlists of the Bonnaroo Festival 2012, all 25 artists that I saw. Ranking and reviewing all the music I caught live at the Bonnaroo Fest in Manchester, TN. Overall, a strong festival - not the best Bonnaroo I've been to (one of these days I will rank rock festivals themselves against each other), but a great time nonetheless.

Headliners this year are Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Phish - a pretty top-knotch set of headliners, but there are also great young bands like Alabama Shakes, Michael Kiwanuka, and Gary Clark Jr. making their Bonnaroo fest debuts earlier in the day. 2012 is a pretty solid Bonnaroo lineup, and has benefitted from some late additions including Danzig Legacy and Sharon Jones. Video footage of each band added when it can be found on Youtube. Consider this to be an overall Bonnaroo 2012 review.

I'd also like to add that thought I didn't actually watch Skrillex, we caught about 20mins of his set from a distance while stopping for some food and "regrouping" to head back to crash for the night, and I was pretty impressed. While it's not quite my style of electronica, seeing the live show I totally "get it". I didn't include Skrillex in the rankings because without actually being engaged in watching the band, it's not really fair to rank them.
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  1. 9
    Ranker Video
    Photo: YouTube
    Not the best Chili Peppers set I've seen (that would be Lollapalooza - I think in 06), but a pretty solid one. LOTS of jamming, seemed like much more instrumental groove improv than an average Chilis set - Flea especially was way into the Bonnaroo spirit and they were giving a lot of props to other bands of the weekend. Klinghoffer filled Frusciante's shoes admirably. And they played Higher Ground which was quite nice to hear.

    Monarchy of Roses
    Can't Stop
    Dani California
    Scar Tissue
    Look Around
    Throw Away Your Television
    The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
    Right on Time
    If You Have to Ask
    Factory of Faith
    Under the Bridge
    Higher Ground
    (Stevie Wonder cover)
    By the Way

    Chad & Mauro Jam
    Suck My Kiss
    Give It Away
    Final Jam
  2. 10
    Ranker Video
    Photo: YouTube
    Really wish I got to see more than just the first half hour but there two mega jams going on at exactly the same time as this midnight Saturday set.

    Vincent Price intro
    The Black Widow
    Brutal Planet
    I'm Eighteen
    Under My Wheels
    Billion Dollar Babies
    No More Mr. Nice Guy
    Hey Stoopid
    Is It My Body
    Halo of Flies
    I'll Bite Your Face Off
    Muscle of Love
    Only Women Bleed
    Cold Ethyl
    Feed My Frankenstein
    Wicked Young Man
    I Love the Dead
    School's Out (with snippets of Another … more)

    Born This Way (Lady Gaga cover)
  3. 11
  4. 12
    Ranker Video
    Photo: YouTube
    BIG crowd, fierce set - with the exception of HR's vocals either being buried in the mix or HR whispering too much (probably both). Lots of moshing. HR pimped out in a blonde wig and white suit . . . OK . . . Really enjoyable to see a band like Bad Brains killing it at Bonnaroo - reminded me of how great the Buzzcocks set at Coachella this year was.
  5. 13

    Michael Kiwanuka

    Ranker Video
    Photo: YouTube
    I walked up just as his crack band was kicking into "Tell Me A Tale", my favorite song of last year. The full-borne version pretty much killed.

    The rest of the set was enjoyable but not amazing. Kiwanuka has a fantastic voice, but the songs were not of universally high quality, and many were also pretty downtempo. One highlight was a cover of Hendrix's "May This Be Love".
  6. 14
    Ranker Video
    Photo: YouTube
    Caught 40 minutes or so of Flying Lotus's 2AM set in That Tent. No light show or stage show, but some pretty great beats, and Flying Lotus is fun to watch. There were definitely similarities to his Coachella 2012 set, which I also saw the first half of.
  7. 15
    Ranker Video
    Photo: YouTube
    Sweetie & Shag
    Dominican Fade
    Wall Street
    Ice Cream
    My Machines
  8. 16
    Ranker Video
    Photo: YouTube
    Sharon and the Dap-Kings played a very strong mid-afternoon main stage hourlong set. She's a hell of a frontwoman, and the Dap-Kings are as soulful as a band can get
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