Friday saw higher temperatures, a bigger crowd, and a long day of music. Usually Friday’s start off slow, but many of the tents and stages had fairly big crowds starting right away. There has been talk that Bonnaroo is in a weird spot right now in terms of their lineup choices, but as long as people are coming to witness all the acts throughout the day, they must be doing something right.
Walker Lukens kicked the day off for me with his brand of Austin, Texas rock that had a clear undertone of funk ingrained in it. Many in the crowd were dancing to their hearts content while the sun beat down on the farm. Léon kicked off the music on the What Stage with a solid set of pop music and was enjoying being on the farm. Her cover of Artic Monkey’s “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” was spot on. Khruangbin dropped a set of funky psychedelic music that was absolutely jaw dropping. Kevin Morby brought much of his latest record City Music to the farm and played a stunning set to a fairly packed That Tent.
One of the best parts about Bonnaroo is walking around aimlessly and discovering new music. Blossoms, based out of England, rocked the tiny stage that easily should have had a bigger crowd. Car Seat Headrest, as expected, played a barn burner of a set. The crowd was ready to explode as soon as they got on stage and didn’t stop the entire set. They invited a girl up on stage for “Destroyed by Hippie Powers,” who had been sending them videos of her playing cowbell to the song. She was jumping all about stage playing with the band and having the time of her life. Moments like these are why people come down to the farm every year.
Cold War Kids rocked the Which Stage in the middle of the hot day and didn’t do the audience any favors of letting them slow down. Anjelique Kidjo’s Remain in Light set was everything a Talking Heads reinterpretation should be, but unfortunately much of Bonnaroo missed out on it. She sang each of the album’s songs with such passion and love. She is doing the set at Lincoln Center this summer and it should not be missed.
Gallant’s r+b set was a wild affair that had the crowding swooning over him constantly. The last act before U2 was the Preservation Hall Jazz Band that made sure to bring New Orleans with them to the farm. They never disappoint and are always a good time band. Finally, after having last played at the US Festival in the early 80’s, U2 took the stage at an American Festival and showed how a festival should be headlined. They are touring in support of the Joshua Tree and played the album front to back, which includes many songs that the band hasn’t touched in 30 years and it sounded amazing. The only critique that can be found in their set was that they didn’t play as many songs as they have been at their regular shows and they ended their set with 15 minutes to spare. Walking away from the set though, no one cared as smiles were seen everyone’s faces.
Portugal. the Man played one of the wilder late-night sets seen in a while with some amazing psychedelic lighting. They brought their A game to Bonnaroo and kept the spirit of collaboration alive by inviting members of Cage the Elephant up for Oasis’s “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and photographer Danny Clinch to play harmonica. It was a perfect late-night Bonnaroo set. Friday ultimately belonged to U2 though, with Bono even jokingly thanking the festival for naming itself after him. Check back here for Saturday’s coverage.
Article: Bryan Lasky