As soon as you officially arrive, when you’ve parked the car, set up camp, un-hid and organized your assortment of – as Hunter S. Thompson used to call them – drugs, applied a weak attempt of sunscreen, you sit down and realize that for the next four days nothing else in life matters. The only decisions you have to make in life the next four days involve around what band you’d like to see, how much sun you’d like to get, how much dancing you’d like to do, and how many foreign substances you’d like to have in your body. It’s a utopian lifestyle that well over 150,000 attendees got to experience at the farm in Manchester, Tennessee this past weekend. In other words, it’s a millennial hippie’s dream.
Being my first Bonnaroo, from the moment I arrived and saw the line of cars waiting to get in up until the final song from Billy Joel to close out the weekend, my feelings were nothing short of amazement, peace, and all around fun. For my photographer and myself, and those in our camping crew, is truly was a weekend like we’d never experienced before. As much sun as you get, as much partying as you may do, and as many people as you meet, the real impact of Bonnaroo comes down to one important factor, the music. The artists and the music were the glue bringing everyone together, and dammit was there some great music. Here’s the first of four recaps we’ll be doing on the best and most unique performances we experienced at Bonnaroo this year.
Anyone who’s followed Pancakes & Whiskey knows that Parlour Tricks are one of our favorite local NYC bands, so it was great seeing the group perform early on Thursday to help kick start the wild weekend. It was their second year in a row taking the stage at Bonnaroo and they seemed more than comfortable as Lily and her girls mesmerized with their lyrical harmonies and synched powerful angelic vocals. As always the fellas held down the instrumental side of the band and out of all of them, guitarist Angelo Spagnolo really took over, as his unique cruchy and eclectic use of guitar tones and sounds have quietly become a staple of the band’s sounds as you hear him express his style more and more each time we see them.
One of the premiere singers in the emerging pop scene, Ryn Weaver is one of those artists on the verge of breaking into the limelight. Her performance at The Other Tent wowed the crowd, showing everyone packed into to see her that her powerful singing ability and ability to take over a stage will lead her emergence as a beautiful and talented female alt-pop icon ready to take over the millennial generation. Her 45-minute set covered familiar favorites in “Promises” and “OctaHate,” as well songs off her first full length The Fool, which actually came out on Tuesday.
Electro-Pop band Glass Animals kept the party vibe going into the first night as frontman Dave Bayley moved around controlling his mic and guitar to make for an impressive performance. As sound waves from their music sliced through he air and across the crowd playing hits including “Gooey” and “Black Mambo.” They even flawlessly covered Kanye’s “Love Lockdown” to a loud approval by the audience.
There has never been a headliner the first night of Bonnaroo, but Courtney Barnett was the closest thing to it on Thursday. The current queen of the indie rock scene saw her 10:45 set bring out all the wild things who had to pick between her and Tove Lo to rock into the late hours of the first night. One of the best rock sets of the weekend, Courtney and her black telecaster brought the thunder from down under ripping through songs off Sometimes I Just Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, including my personal favorite “Elevator Operator,” “History Eraser” and “Depreston.” We’ll definitely be seeing her hit the big stages of the festival circuit again.
Article: Tom Shackleford
Photos: Merissa Blitz