A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Elton John, Bonnaroo. His first American festival, outdoors, does it get any better than that? With a crowd of close to 100,000 people singing “Rocket Man” together to the beautiful tribute Sir Elton paid to Casey Kasem, there was hardly room for a frown in the group.
Hip hop at Bonnaroo. With a performance that felt more like a lecture than a make-up show for his 2008 disaster here, Kanye West hardly gave Bonnaroovians the apology they were looking for, though his show was nothing short of the spectacle everyone assumed it would be. Chance the Rapper, Wiz Khalifa and Ice Cube definitely took the cake in the hip-hop department.
Flaming Lips, Bonnaroo. From the mass amounts of confetti that poured during the encore to the sing-along covers, it was hard not to claim this as one of the most extravagant, beautiful and best performances I’ve seen.
ashleigh horn, Minneapolis
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RIP Teenie Hodges. The guitarist was the groovemaster (and often co-writer) behind many of Al Green’s classics, including “Love and Happiness” and “Take Me to the River,” as well as records by Syl Johnson, O.V. Wright and Ann Peebles (“I Can’t Stand the Rain”). Hodges was essential to Memphis soul in the 1970s.
Liv Warfield, Paisley Park. One of Prince’s backup singers who has launched a solo career, she showed an explosive, gospel-infused voice and a commanding, arm-shaking stage presence. She also is strikingly creative, as evidenced on a terrific a cappella arrangement of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” for three female voices, and a sound that sets her apart, sort of a funk-rock stomp with powerhouse vocals. Think a more robust Annie Lennox, with much more church.
Cesar Rosas, Minnesota Zoo. While Los Lobos’ frontman David Hidalgo seemed to be having problems with his voice, fellow singer/guitarist Rosas had fire in his belly, voice and guitar. The usually laconic and laid-back Rosas became the spirit of the band on Hidalgo’s off night.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune