Friday at Bonnaroo 2014 is in the books and, while much of the attention was focused on rapper Kanye West’s headlining performance, there was plenty of music on either side of West’s set as well. Scottish synthpop duo Chvrches closed out The Other Tent with a hit-filled show while Derek Trucks and Friends put together a Late Night Superjam in That Tent.
When Chvrches was announced as a tent closer, it seemed like the perfect capper to a whirlwind year for the white hot act. Their 2013 album “The Bones of What You Believe” was both a critical and commercial success, making numerous critics’ list of the “best albums of 2013” and spawning several radio hits, most notably “The Mother We Share.”
Chvrches took the stage at 7:30 p.m. and, as their show progressed the sun, absent behind clouds most of the day, gently set behind them. While the crowd at the beginning was surprisingly sparse for such a buzzworthy band, it steadily grew throughout the set as more recognizable hits were played, culminating in a nearly full house by the time the band closed up with “The Mother We Share.”
Musically, the band was spot on. The ethereal synth driven music was a perfect was to bid the sun goodbye and Mayberry’s voice was in fine form throughout. She engaged in some humorous banter with the crowd about signs and at one point even took an audience member to task for a sign encouraging women to bare their breasts on Instagram.
After Kanye West’s headlining performance concluded, it was time for the Late Night sets to begin and for Allman Brothers and Tedeschi-Trucks Band guitarist Derek Trucks to try his hand at leading one of Bonnaroo’s signature Superjam performances. From Midnight to 2:00 a.m., Trucks and company tore through a setlist that crossed multiple genres, from soul to Southern rock to blues to hard rock.
In addition to his bandmate and wife Susan Tedeschi, who handled vocal duties for most of the early portion of the show, Trucks loaded up with talent to assist with his Superjam. Ben Folds, Karl Denson, Taj Mahal, and Chaka Khan were among the artists featured.
While the youthful Trucks and Tedeschi were definitely the instrumental heart of the Superjam, the night belonged to the elder statesmen. Legendary session bassist Willie Weeks ably handled the time all night while bluesman Taj Mahal held court for several songs. David Hidalgo’s vocal and guitar work were excellent throughout the night and had this reporter hoping for a Los Lobos appearance at Bonnaroo 2015.
But it was Chaka Khan who truly shone. She carried the bulk of the vocal duties for the show’s second hour and proved herself more than up to any challenge. During her portion of the set, she put on near perfect vocal renditions of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be”.
Elsewhere on Bonnaroo Late Night stages, Ice Cube and Skrillex rocked the Which Stage. Elsewhere Mastodon, Meshuggah, Disclosure, and Die Antwoord also performed.