Bonnaroo’s Virtual Roo-ality Day 2 Recap: The Night of the Jam Bands

Virtual Roo-ality continued with a full lineup of music and other entertainment almost more eclectic and random than the day before. Only at Bonnaroo can you watch a 10-minute electric-dance fitness workout performed in front of stuffed pandas (and led by Sia’s award-winning “Chandelier” choreographer), followed by a folk band and then immediately capped off with a high-energy funk band. And, only at Bonnaroo can you watch a 15-minute cooking session where a sassy host is making something called “booty-poppin sausage and potatoes” that is followed by an hour-long Metallica set. But here we are. This is Roo. It’s this random method to the madness that makes it special and unique. Day 2 could be known as the day of exponential positivity (thanks again to the live chat), complete and total randomness and the night of the jam band. Here are my personal highlights from day 2.

Dave Matthews and Friends (2004)

Dave’s band with “friends” is a super jam band comprised of Trey Anastasio (of Phish), Tim Reynolds, Tony Hall, Brady Blade and Ray Paczkowski. This set was the absolute perfect choice to close out the night of jam bands before the party sets went on for the night. Dave Matthews is a bucket list act for me, but I’ve yet to see him live. (I almost did once. Ask me sometime about the hilarious story behind that one time my siblings and I didn’t see Dave Matthews.) Dave is a severely underrated rhythm guitarist and to be honest, I’m not sure why he receives as much heat as he does. The whole set was a masterclass in jam band artistry. People in the chat went on about how 2004 Dave Matthews was him at his peak and if that’s true, I could see it. But having not seen him in person yet, I can’t really make that judgment performance-wise. The standout moments for me were “Some Devil,” “Gravedigger,” and their cover of Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good”. This set went on for a little over an hour and a half and I honestly could’ve sat and listened to more. Someday I’ll see you live for real, Dave. Someday. 

Nubya Garcia

Holy jazz. Nubya Garcia is a British saxophonist who grew up a classically trained musician who has played violin, viola, clarinet, and saxophone from an early age. She grew up playing in the London Schools Symphony Orchestra before scoring a seat at the junior jazz program at the Royal Academy of Music. Simply put, she’s a badass. And she has been her whole life. She started releasing her own music in 2017. She’s received recognition and accolades from the likes of NPR, Jazz FM and others. Her smooth saxophone weaves in and out of neo-soul, contemporary yet progressive compositions in a way that just feels good. Really good. Her innate style is a nod to traditional jazz while adding her own spin that makes it uniquely hers. 

Magic City Hippies

This fun and feel-good group comes to us from Miami and they make it clear they’re here for a good time. Their indie-funk grooves bring a presence that makes it so incredibly easy to like them. The one thing that you notice from watching them perform that you don’t really see in their studio tracks is that they are actually a hell of a jam band. The moments they crept away from being a less polished funk band were the moments that Bonnaroovians went wild for — myself included. 

Moon Taxi

Moon Taxi performed their socially-distanced set on an empty Bonnaroo farm with mixed in cuts from previous Bonnaroo sets in black and white. This was heavy-hitting nostalgia for Moon Taxi fans and for those who have been to the fest before. The chat exploded with sad emojis of fans wishing they could be there with the band and talking about how much they missed being at the farm. The interesting thing about this group is that while they’re rooted in indie rock, what they gave us tonight was a lot more alt-country based — going in the complete opposite direction of what we normally see from them. This proves that they are chameleons of their craft and do so with ease. Their special ability to mold their sets into a variety of environments that appeal to any desired aesthetic is commendable.

The xx (2018)

I love this group so much. I have a soft spot for juxtaposition in everything, but especially sound. I like it when I can hear several influences mold together in an intricate and seamless thread. I also have a soft spot for moody ethereal vibes. The xx gives me all of that. I’m not sure how I would personally categorize them but they are being referred to as atmospheric indie pop, so ok. Sure. Let’s go with that. It makes sense. This band started in London when all the members were still in high school but didn’t get mainstream attention until 2010. If you’re a fan of The Cure, The Smiths, Cvrches, or Future Islands meets R&B and electronic infusions, you will love this group. Here they are at Glastonbury (which would be a literal dream for me to see in person). 

Trampled by Turtles

These guys are a bluegrass band from Minnesota who can jam their faces off. They have the most inviting presence and are just outright likable. They played their set Brady Bunch Zoom-style from different locations in a grid. Their odes to bluegrass are frantic and fast-paced but contemporary. Meanwhile, their odes to folk are soft, heart-wrenching, and lend themselves to comfortable familiarity while feeling strangely adventurous at the same time. That sense of adventure in their music yet that familiar feeling of “home” makes them the perfect fit for Bonnaroo. 

Galactic: Live from Tipitina’s 

This funk-pop-rock band is out of New Orleans. Originally an instrumental outfit, they ventured out and introduced more eclectic, contemporary and progressives elements into their sound. This set was enjoyable, energetic and had big house band energy which feels like a homage to their New Orlean roots. If you enjoy St. Paul and the Broken Bones, you will enjoy this group. 

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (2016)

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats are textured with soul and huge energy yet quiet and soft in all the right places. This is one of those sets you feel instantly jealous of when you watch it back because you wish you were there. Having demo’d the earlier songs of this group by himself Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters-style, Nathaniel made it a priority to involve the band in the creative process moving forward. He even talked about going off the grid together to focus on making that happen. The results of this evolution are something that is full-bodied with a lot of different influences and infusions. This set showcased all of that in spades. The highlight for me was a surprise appearance from Leon Bridges for a couple of songs, but especially seeing them perform SOB. 

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

This was arguably the most fun jam band of the night. These guys are an energetic and insatiable 4-piece funk-psychedelic group that rests upon a foundation of jam band grooves out of Maryland. Two things they’re known for: infectiously positive energy and their jam style. Their set was only 10 minutes long, but it was completely true to who they were and gave us a taste of what a full show from them might be like. If you’re looking for a band with neatly packaged songs, this is not the group for you. But if coloring outside the lines of neat and tidy tracks with a wide and super upbeat brush sounds like your style, give these guys a go. 

That’s a wrap on day 2! Check out the full lineup below. Did you watch? If so leave your comments below and get ready for the third and final day tomorrow!

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