Bootleg: Leon Bridges makes magic at Bonnaroo 2016

Every once in a awhile, I’m going to try and share some killer bootlegs I’ve come across, probably most of which will be from shows I actually attended.

Bonnaroo was under-attended in 2016, which boggles my mind because the festival had probably what I’d consider the strongest run of acts of any fest I attended on Friday, the second day of the festival. From 6:45 to 2:30 AM, I saw the following bands in this order: CHVRCHES, Leon Bridges, M83, LCD Soundsystem, and Tame Impala. If you were more ambitious than me, you could’ve fit in some Purity Ring between the last two acts.

Leon Bridges was right in the thick of it, with an 8:15 scheduled set in the Other Tent. The heat had finally died down for the night, and I took the opportunity to sit towards the back in order to rest up for the night’s home stretch.

A few weeks earlier, I was supposed to see a main-stage set from Bridges at Sasquatch, but wind advisories cancelled a number of sets on that day. Bridges wouldn’t be denied an opportunity to play — when it was clear he wasn’t going to get a chance to play on stage, festival staff took Bridges and a backup vocalist on a golf cart and into the middle of the crowd on the hill facing the stage. I ran full speed up the hill and got within five feet of him, hearing his swoon-inducing vocals as he strummed an acoustic guitar. This included moving renditions of “Coming Home” and “River.”

That set made me circle him on my schedule as must-see for Bonnaroo. He didn’t disappoint. Along with playing all the favorites from his great record Coming Home, Bridges brought a different perspective to ’90s R&B smash “Pony” by Ginuwine, giving the song a bluesy take that featured some seriously sexy saxophone. Bridges has so much swagger, it’s unbelievable, and he had that Bonnaroo crowd in the palm of his hands.

You can download the full bootleg of the show, taken from a webcast of the performance, below. I’ve uploaded the cover of “Pony” that you can play directly below: