The Bonnaroo Awards 2018

Some publications are saying that Bonnaroo is dead but it appeared that this year’s attendees were unaware of this death. And honestly, we, too had a great time at the Farm. To recap, we presented special daily awards. Thus, The Bonnaroo Awards were born.

Special thanks to Mike Stewart for sharing some of his photos from the weekend. YOU DA BEST!


Memba Award

Paramore – a band that Beaver may not have fan girled as hard over as me, but he still enjoyed their set. Hayley knows how to work her crowd.

Discovery Award

Japanese Breakfast – not only did we love the name (mmm breakfast) but their show was really lively and they did a spot on Cranberries cover.

Tash Sultana – we’d listened to her recorded stuff before heading to the farm, seeing it all put together live was unbelievable. And her rules for her shows were spot on- no hate here. Her massive This Tent crowd soaked up thar energy that she was giving off.

Biggest Surprise

Muse – they might not have the relevance that they did ten years ago, but you cannot question that they still put on a great live show. Beaver really really enjoyed seeing some of his favorite college indie rock. He definitely sang along to Knight of Cydonia.

Sheryl Crow – the golden ageless goddess still has it. I couldn’t help but sing along to her infectious, light hearted hits. I definitely had a cynical view towards seeing her live and clearly that was misplaced because it was great.

Best Overall Show

Khalid – the kid is a lot of fun. He took us through a whole range of emotions with songs about teenage love and life. Khalid was clearly so excited to be there in front of the massive crowd who knew all of his songs and couldn’t take their eyes off him and his dancers.

Other Notes

Bassnectars name is so appropriate. Holy shit that bass is intense.

T-Pain is gonna be goooood at Forecastle. I know way more of his lyrics that I would openly admit. The That Tent crowd was massive and overflowing.

Saturday –

The Avengers Award

Bon Iver part 2- This second set from Bon Iver was billed as a completely unique set from his earlier one. We expected an act two or continuation of the first set. That was not the case. Vernon played maestro of an ensemble performers that included Vernon and all of his dudes turning nobs and pushing buttons around a table in the middle of the stage, a slew of trombonists, and interpretive dancers donning ‘people’. The Avengers Award was sealed with appearances of Saturday performers Moses Sumney and both Amelia and Nick of Sylvan Esso. Naeem Juwan (Spank Rock) and one of my favs Francis and the Lights showed up to sing, rap, and dance in this one of a kind show. The set ended with Francis and Vernon’s song “Friends” and we got to witness the accompanying dance live! (Check out the video for this song, for real.) Another special moment occurred with Parkland survivor Aaliyah came out to speak to the crowd about the importance of activism and voting for you people. Her poise and strength warranted the extended applause.

Memba? Award

Mavis Staples – Mavis has been performing for 68 years and that kind of career doesn’t happen by chance. Even though I couldn’t help thinking about how I want her to be my grandma, I also was so blown away by the energy and joy she brings to the stage. It was an honor to finally see this powerful woman in person.

Nile Rogers and Chic – I’ll be upfront. We are so embarrassed that we didn’t make the connection about who this man is, because everyone alive has heard music that he has impacted. Nile’s core band Chic is known for their distinct soul-funk-disco sound but he’s also produced (and performed in his Bonnaroo set) Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” The substantial crowd was the most active we’ve seen it all weekend. You seriously couldn’t stop yourself from dancing along… the music took you over.

Discovery Award

Anderson. Paak- Even though we’ve know about .Paak for a long time, Beaver was unfamiliar and was blown away by the dynamic artist. His music transcends hip hop and it’s impressive to watch him simultaneously maintain a separate percussion beat and hip hop. Definitely a contender for best show of the day and we look forward to seeing him again.

Best Overall Show

Eminem- Even though he’s getting some flack for the gunshot-esque sound effects, we enjoyed the whole immersive experience of his set. The backdrop of Detroit was carried throughout with scenes of vibrancy, deterioration, fire and reemergence… with a splash of gentrification maybe? Nevertheless, he gave the massive crowd what they craved. Even from pretty far back we had a blast. It was a special night, as I witnessed Beaver singing along to hip hop.

Other notes

A story was shared about Old Crow Medicine Show’s first Bonnaroo, where they busked in the media area and how that started the tradition of having press tent shows. We are so lucky that we caught this years short intimate set with OCMS.

Moses Sumney opened up the massive What Stage. Witnessing his live mixing a second time made us appreciate even more all of the elements and components of his songs, even the ones that seem really weird. His Bjork cover was spot on and actually might be a great artist comparison…

Sylvan Esso packed That Tent and we crossed another one off Beaver’s bucket list.

And in case you were wondering, Bon Iver’s first set was great too!


The day began with a very wet start. Storms delayed the opening of the festival but we were able to get through the mud and enjoy a great day of music. Unfortunately it seemed like most of we wanted to see overlapped with each other. However, don’t fret, we made it work. Thanks, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival! We had a blast !


The Greatest Showman Award

The Killers – Bonnaroo closed out with an epic rock n roll, Vegas – style spectacle of a show. At times Brandon Flowers may have seemed over the top, especially when he dawning an all gold suit during the encore. However, it was a dancing good time complete with all of the classic Killers songs and a great tribute to Tom Petty by covering American Girl.

Memba? Award

Alt – J – Maybe they have only been around for a decade, but Alt-J is a nostalgic band for the both of us, we each have distinctive and unique memories of discovering them in 2013 during times that we found transformative. We enjoy their new album, but love their older albums and it was great to be mesmerized by their unique sound and hypnotic lyrics.

Discovery Award

Jungle- Brittany saw this musical conglomeration very early in their career and immediately bought their self-titled debut. It has been played heavily in our house. So we were pretty thrilled with the opportunity to see them live. The fun ambiance of their recorded music translates very nicely in a live set, for sure. They’ve new music out and we highly recommend exploring them!

Daniel Caesar – R&B may not be Beaver’s favorite genre, but even he was into the soulful sounds of this young Canadian singer-songwriter. We and the audience were moved by the smooth lyrics of this former gospel singer. His debut album came out less than a year ago and we are excited to see what he does next.

Best Overall Show

Thundercat – We easily agreed that this was our favorite show of the day. Thundercat rocked out with one of the largest bass guitars we’ve ever seen. His unique mix of soul, funk, and jazz had the entire This Tent dancing and we’re really glad we made time for him in a very tight final 2 hours of shows at Bonnaroo. Even if you don’t know Thundercat, you have probably heard his work, as we said in our preview he has appeared on albums for Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino, just to name a few. However, Thundercat can definitely stand on his own and is worth checking out. We hope he’ll visit Louisville soon!

-Aubrey and Beaver

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