MANCHESTER, Tenn. -- The Beach Boys might be thinking wouldn't it be nice to be younger rather than older these days, but the aging rockers proved they still had some magic in them when they delighted a massive crowd at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on Sunday.
The Beach Boys took the main stage at Bonnaroo for an afternoon set that was threatened by rain throughout its hour and a half duration. The California rockers, who are touring to mark their 50th anniversary as a band and a new album, eased the Sunday afternoon crowd into their huge catalogue of timeless hits. The band fielded its original surviving lineup, including the legendary Brian Wilson, who has battled mental health and drug problems throughout his life.
It was one of the biggest crowds for any performer during the four-day festival, but it was a tamer, quieter crowd than some of the earlier headliners. Fans bopped their heads to familiar hits like Surfing Safari, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, and Little Deuce Coupe, but looked to be a bit burnt out from all of the weekend's activities.
That didn't stop the Beach Boys from pressing on through their back catalogue and playing virtually every big song they've ever had. Everything from I Get Around to Sloop John B to Wouldn't It Be Nice was heard on Sunday.
But it was when the rain finally started to break out and the band busted out Good Vibrations that the crowd truly came alive. Every fan as far as the eye could see -- I'd estimate at least 50,000 concertgoers -- had their hands in the air clapping along to the popular song.
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From there the band launched into California Girls, Help Me, Rhonda, and Surfin' USA before taking a quick break. Even in the largely youthful Bonnaroo crowd, everyone seemed to know the words.
The Beach Boys wrapped things up with beach-themed Kokomo and Barbara Ann.
It was a strong performance by the reunited Beach Boys, though it is clear that they don't sound quite like they did when the iconic Pet Sounds album was released. The band has done a nice job at forgetting about the differences they've had over the last 50 years and just go out and have fun again.
It was also nice to see Wilson out there performing, though he did seem to be banished off to the side. Wilson looked slightly detached during the set until it came time for him to perform lead vocals on songs such as God Only Knows.
Following The Beach Boys is no easy task, but Grammy Award winners Bon Iver seemed to be ready for the challenge on Sunday afternoon. From the moment lead singer Justin Vernon and the rest of Bon Iver began playing Perch it was clear that they came to truly wow fans at Bonnaroo.
Bon Iver later gave soulful renditions of its two biggest hits Holocene and Skinny Love, including Vernon busting out the steel acoustic guitar for the 2008 hit Skinny Love.
The indie folk band didn't have people up and dancing as the Beach Boys did earlier in the day, but the band's music doesn't intend to do that. It has a bit more punch and meaning to it than the fluffiness of surfing in California in the 1960s, though its two biggest hits have similar singalong capabilities.
Young the Giant has had a big 2012 thus far and it showed with the strong crowd that it drew on Sunday, despite stiff competition from The Shins and fun. playing at the same time. The band has this raw energy that just reverberates throughout the crowd and made their set one of the best performances of the entire festival.
Young the Giant played stirring versions of their biggest hits Cough Syrup, which was featured on Glee, and My Body, but it was its rendition of R. Kelly's Ignition that was unforgettable. Lead singer Sameer Gadhia brilliantly guided fans throughout the classic hit before fans rushed the stage and sprayed champagne on a crowd that loved every minute of it.
It was a superb performance by a band that seems to understand how important it is to build up its fan base through big summer festivals. Don't be surprised to see Young the Giant follow in the footsteps of Temper Trap and move up to an even bigger stage next time around at Bonnaroo.
There might not be a more natural act than Phish to close out Bonnaroo, which drew its inspiration from the band's legendary performances. The most famous jam band since Grateful Dead closed out the 2012 Bonnaroo with a four-hour set that directly appealed to its fans.
Phish rocked jams to Free, Wilson, and Sample in a Jar, but it was when it brought on legendary country singer Kenny Rogers to the stage that it created the penultimate moment of the festival. Rogers came on to reprise his hit The Gambler after performing it earlier in the day at his own set, but got an opportunity to do so in front of a significantly larger crowd. It was a nice moment and showed just what Bonnaroo is all about -- people from all walks of life coming together for one common cause.