As Beck took the stage at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, he had dancers in bear suits and a band that played on water glasses and dinner plates.
He also had a puppet alter-ego take a swipe at “sweaty hippies stinking of patchouli” — a friendly jab at his audience and the jam-band culture that has supported Bonnaroo over its first five years.
The camping and music festival on a 700-acre Tennessee farm still has its neo-hippies and free spirits, but Bonnaroo has grown into something more than a celebration of endless guitar solos.
Rather than be pigeonholed into the jam-band scene, Bonnaroo has diversified its lineup to include major artists in rap, blues, indie rock and this year, classic rockers like Tom Petty and Elvis Costello.
“At first it was a jam band festival. But is it still?” said Mike Gordon of the former jam band Phish. “There still is a lot of jamming. I think it’s grown in respect. It’s not considered a niche festival anymore.”
Or perhaps it just proves that hippies will listen to anything — as long as it’s not heavy metal or punk.
Ashley Capps, owner of AC Entertainment in Knoxville, which co-organizes Bonnaroo with Superfly Productions, said the performances by Petty and the British band Radiohead were watershed moments for the festival.
“From the beginning, we were a music festival that was about the music,” Capps said. “We never saw ourselves being limited to one genre or another.”
David Taylor, 25, and Lucy Cornford, 24, said the only reason they came from London to attend Bonnaroo was to see a number of indie and underground rock bands like Bright Eyes, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Beck.
“We normally go to Glastonbury (Festival), but they didn’t have one this year and there were so many good bands we wanted to see at Bonnaroo,” Taylor said.
The festival accommodated 80,000 fans — many of whom spent the entire weekend camped out on the concert site. More than 100 performers played on 10 different stages this year.
Tom Petty’s headlining performance Friday showed that even well-known artists can surprise an audience. Stevie Nicks joined Petty for a re-enactment of their 1981 duet, “Stop Dragging My Heart Around.”
“I’ve seen him five times before,” said Kimberly English, of Cleveland. “But I saw another side to him that night. He was like a master of ceremonies.”
Adding new artists each year gives fans like English a reason to come back.
“If they didn’t change the lineup, they wouldn’t be holding to what Bonnaroo is all about,” English said while watching Elvis Costello perform with jazz composer and producer Allen Toussaint on Saturday.
Costello and Toussaint, both new to Bonnaroo this year, put together a set that included New Orleans jazz with some of Costello’s new wave classics. The band performed “Pump It Up” and “Alison,” updated with the crisp sound of their New Orleans horn section.
“Most of my life is spent in the studio,” Toussaint said. “I am seeing things that I have not witnessed before. It’s a whole spirit that I haven’t seen.”
The pair recently released “The River in Reverse,” a collection of new songs written by Costello along with some of Toussaint’s songs from the ’60s and the ’70s.
In addition to the dancing bears, Beck played songs from his entire career — from “Where It’s At” off his 1996 album “Odelay” to tracks off his soon-to-be released new album.
In the weekend’s most anticipated show, Radiohead played a crowd-pleasing 2 1/2-hour set that included songs from the band’s past albums and some unreleased songs.
The crowd roared during the crashing crescendos in songs like “Idioteque,” but singer and guitarist Thom Yorke silenced the large crowd with his haunting vocals on “Exit Music “For A Film” off the album “OK Computer.”
The festival closed Sunday with former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and Friends, blues guitarist Bonnie Raitt and New York rockers Sonic Youth.
There was one death at Bonnaroo this year. A man wearing a Bonnaroo admission armband was killed Friday when he was struck by the tour bus carrying bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs.
Two people died from drug overdoses at Bonnaroo in 2004, and one man was found dead in his tent last year. Witnesses said he suffered from sleep apnea, but authorities said there were indications of unspecified drugs in his system.
The organizers currently rent the farmland, located 60 miles southeast of Nashville, but there are plans to make the festival more permanent, Capps said.
“We’ve established a good relationship with the people in Coffee County and we would like to keep the festival here,” Capps said.