7 Things Seen and Heard Backstage at Bonnaroo
The Manchester, Tenn., music festival hosted some 80,000 attendees and featured headlining sets by Paul McCartney and Tom Petty.
Manchester, Tenn., was host to some 80,000 attendees at this year's Bonnaroo music festival, where headliners included Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Mumford & Sons (the latter who had to cancel their June 15 appearance while bassist Ted Dwane recovers from brain surgery).
Also on the diverse bill for the three-day gathering were Bjork, Wilco, Pretty Lights, R. Kelly, Wu-Tang Clan, the Lumineers, Kendrick Lamar, ZZ Top and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, among dozens more.
Much of the action was on the stage, but there was plenty to take in behind the scenes as well:
- John Stamos and his entourage were spotted backstage in the artist catering area on Sunday afternoon. The actor was on site for a surprise appearance during a comedy set by his Full House castmate Bob Saget later that evening. Stamos snapped photos with fans and later tweeted “at bonnaroo saving @bobsaget’s set once again!”
- Red Light Management and its guests gathered for an invite-only barbecue in the management company’s backstage compound on Saturday evening. The company, which has a part stake in the festival, invited artists like Martina McBride, as well as executives from Porsche and Logitech.
- With Mumford & Sons forced to cancel a headlining appearance on Saturday night, Jack Johnson stepped in to fill the band's shoes. The Hawaiian singer dedicated a cover of Mumford’s “The Cave” to the absent headliners, saying, “We want to dedicate this whole set to Ted Dwane and all of Mumford & Sons.” Johnson reportedly pulled his set together in only a few days and rehearsed with his band in Nashville up until the set.
- Friday’s musicians may have had a secret pact before writing their setlists: Both Paul McCartney and ZZ Top offered a rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” During his headlining set on the festival’s main stage, McCartney recounted a story of watching Hendrix perform Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at a show shortly after its release in 1967 and asking Eric Clapton to come onstage and tune his guitar. Clapton apparently refused. McCartney added, “Anyway, a great memory for me.”
- Saturday night’s annual Bonnaroo Superjam featured a few surprise appearances, including Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Billy Idol and R. Kelly. The set, heralded by Jim James and John Oates, boasted covers of T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” A second Superjam took place earlier in the weekend, featuring Solange, RZA, Chad Hugo, Schoolboy Q and DJ Jazzy Jeff.
- Warren Haynes was seen near the press area telling Portugal. The Man's John Gourley that he's planning to release a new album with Gov't Mule this fall. Haynes later joined Gourley and several other performers, including Scott Aukerman, for a press conference to discuss the influence of Bonnaroo.
- Various celebrities milled around the expansive artist area backstage. Everyone from Alexa Chung to Amy Schumer and Ed Helms, who hosted a special VIP bluegrass show on Saturday late night, were spotted congratulating musicians on their sets. Best sighting: The National’s frontman Matt Berninger helping his young daughter pick out food from catering after the band’s inspired performance on the main stage on Sunday afternoon.