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Bonnaroo 2014 – Day One Recap

Jason Merritt, Getty Images

If you found yourself traveling in the general direction of Tennessee Thursday morning, you likely noticed swarms of painted cars converging upon the south of the state. This gathering of ready-to-rage revelers was making its way to the 13th-annual Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival for four days of outdoors music performances in Manchester.

A whole separate article could be dedicated to all the food, fashions and numerous oddities of a typical day at Bonnaroo, but the focus here is on the music, constantly whirring across half a dozen stages from noon until sunrise.

Thursday typically serves as an appetizer for emerging bands to take their chance at breaking out and for fans to get an idea of where the That, This and Other stage tents are. This held true in 2014 as the mushroom fountain flowed and the illuminated Ferris Wheel spun once again.

As the weather cooled, things started to heat up around 7:30PM, when dream-pop rockers Real Estate hit the That Tent. The shoulder-to-shoulder crowd extended past the outer limits of the tent with the band’s brand of impeccably tight, interweaving guitar driven sound aligning perfectly with the cool southern breeze. The set highlight was the soaring harmonies of ‘It’s Real,’ which welcomed in the raucous evening ahead.

Over on the opposite side of the Bonnaroo map was the eclectic hard rock of Cloud Nothings (pictured above). Their rollicking trip incited the first real mosh pits of the weekend, as the Cleveland band drew from a wide range of songs from its growing catalog. Each transition was signaled seamlessly by extended jams that showcased the band’s skilled live prowess.

Meanwhile, in That Tent, headliners White Denim returned to rule over Bonnaroo once again. With their Other Tent master set in 2012 still fresh in fans’ minds, the word-of-mouth factor loomed large as the band was welcomed by a large crowd.

Their show was a perfect precursor to Ty Segall’s mind-numbing psychosis adventure, which sent screeching guitar lines out into the early morning.

Next: More 2014 Music Festivals

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