This year marked the 10th anniversary of Bonnaroo, the massive, scorching, and extremely dusty music festival that takes places annually in early June. This year was particularly enormous with the fest being sold out, as 80,000 people made the trek to Manchester, Tennessee from June 9th-12th. Headliners such as Eminem, Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, Buffalo Springfield, My Morning Jacket, and The Strokes drew a varied crowd from all walks of life. Despite domineering heat and the fact that the farm essentially experienced a Dust Bowl, festival-goers remained in good spirits throughout the weekend as they turned out in hoards for their favorite artists’ shows. For a 10th anniversary, Bonnaroo didn’t book many artists unique to this summer’s festival circuit, but the lineup was sufficiently packed to make the 14+ hour trip worth it.

Sleigh Bells:
Sleigh Bells’ recent sold-out show in Philly had the Trocadero pulsing with sound and dancing bodies, but that was nothing compared to Thursday’s Bonnaroo performance at the Other Tent. The booming bass from the opening night show could be heard throughout the entire farm, and people were packed in and around the tent. Alexis Krauss kept the crowd hyped up the entire time despite the fact that few could even see her as she shouted Bonnaroo’s praises and belted Sleigh Bells’ trademark cheerleader-pop-rock anthems. Guitarist Derek Miller provided support to the increasingly hard set, which culminated in Krauss diving into the delighted crowd.

Friday highlights: Givers, Florence And The Machine, My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire, Pretty Lights, Ratatat

Chiddy Bang: Fresh off the release of their latest mixtape Peanut Butter and Swelly, Philadelphia natives Chiddy Bang took to the stage of This Tent on Saturday afternoon. The 15-track mixtape blew up the blogosphere, so it was no surprise to find a large, youthful crowd spilling out of the tent despite the sweltering 3:30pm heat. Composed of rapper Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and drummer/beatmaker Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin, the hip-hop duo played a set that spanned their young yet eventful career. Most of the material came from 2009’s breakout mixtape The Swelly Express as well as PB&S, and the set also featured a preview performance of their new single “Manners.” The most ambitious aspect of the show came when Xaphoon took the mic to gather numerous freestyle topics from the crowd for Chiddy to rap about. Although the audience became antsy during the long collection process, they immediately reengaged when the Guinness World Record holder for longest freestyle began to adeptly rap about Bonnaroo, Pokemon, and a crowd-pleasing detestation for LeBron James. Peanut Butter and Swelly was released as a prequel to Chiddy Bang’s debut full-length effort Breakfast, which is expected later this year. Until then, check out this video that Bonnaroo released of the duo performing the new single. The quality is a little low, but the energy is there and you can still get the idea.

Man Man: Following Chiddy Bang, the Philadelphia music continued at This Tent with a performance by experimental rockers Man Man. Known for its wild live performances, the multi-instrumentalist quintet continued in this tradition wearing matching outfits and face paint, and playing an unpredictable and diverse set. While hard to see exactly what instruments the members were playing, everything from keyboards to harmonica to eccentric drums could be heard. The hour-plus show featured tracks primarily from the group’s first three albums, despite its recent May release of the LP Life Fantastic. Although people wandered in and out of the tent throughout the performance, there was always a decent-sized crowd grooving to the slightly spastic set. In the day or so following the show, many overheard conversations made it clear that Man Man had established numerous new fans for itself.

Perhaps the most challenging scheduling conflict of this year’s Bonnaroo was on Sunday evening, when Beirut, The Strokes, and Explosions In The Sky were all slated to perform within an hour of one another. Beirut was the first to begin at 6:15 p.m. in the Other Tent, and a late start time had some attendees feeling anxious while other devoted fans waited patiently. However, as soon as the set began, the crowd that had stayed realized they had made the right choice. Zach Condon and Co. opened with “The Concubine” from 2009’s double EP March Of The Zapotec/Holland, and continued into a set that included older favorites as well as plenty of new material from their upcoming August release The Rip Tide. Rainbow-colored lights filled the tent as horns and strings soared and bellowed beneath Condon’s soulful Balkan vocals. Once, as Condon began the lyrics to “Elephant Gun,” he stopped to laugh, apparently overwhelmed by the positive atmosphere. The crowd joined him wholeheartedly, and then began to sing along with full force. Everyone happily bobbed and swayed as a breeze finally provided relief from the oppressive heat that had been present all weekend. The tranquil atmosphere at the show synced perfectly with Beirut’s exquisitely layered songs, making for one of the paramount experiences of the festival.

Other Sunday highlights: Iron & Wine, Robyn, Cold War Kids, The Strokes, Explosions In The Sky