Bonnaroo 2015, Day One: Courtney Barnett, Mac DeMarco + More
Yesterday (June 11), cars, trucks and RVs once again lined all incoming roads to Manchester, Tenn., for 2015's iteration of the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. It was a picture perfect day with all of the familiar smells, sounds and sights.
We saw a goat in a tie-dye T-shirt pulling cases of beer secured to a skateboard. When we drove by his owner, he simply said, "Whatever floats your goat."
For Bonnarookies, Thursday is the night to familiarize yourself with the That, This and Other Tents before to trial by fire that is Friday. It's also a night typically reserved to showcase emerging talent who are ready to jump out to major mainstream success, if they haven't already. This is what went down, from our perspective.
The Ice Temple Conflict
For fans of transcendent rock performances, you had your pick of varying styles last night. One particularly great chunk of time saw post punks Iceage against psych rockers Temples wherein both showcased and pushed the outer limits of their myriad talents. In between some early sound issues, Iceage conjured a vicious performance; it felt like the band was trying to make the tent cave in on itself via sonic bludgeoning.
U.K. exports Temples, meanwhile, have toured the U.S. extensively by now and have polished up their festival show to the point where their ultimate arrival at Bonnaroo felt more like a victory lap than a test. That said, the band gamely worked through material from their debut while dropping in some unreleased cuts that never dispersed the massive crowd at the Other Tent. Their Aussie cousins, Tame Impala, have painted a map toward success and Temples may be right in step behind them. Keep an eye out for their highly-anticipated sophomore effort.
If You Can See Her, She Probably Can't See You
Matched up against a monster crowd at the That Tent for Tove Lo, fans of Courtney Barnett caught a break having a big but manageable crowd to wade through as the verbose rocker took to the This Tent. Backed only by a bassist and drummer, and fronted by dark, ever-present bangs, Barnett cooly stepped to the microphone and gained steam and confidence with each and every song.
The additions of TV screens outside of the tents this year allowed plenty to sit back in the grass and relax to "Depreston" and "Avant Gardener." When the speed ramped up on "Dead Fox" or "Pedestrian at Best," Barnett unleashed howls not heard on record while her preening, guitar pointed straight to the sky. Something tells us she'll be on one of the two bigger stages during her next go around.
Next, we caught Jungle, who were great, though they weren't whetting the appetite we were hoping to satiate. We exited and made our way toward Mac DeMarco, whose overall aesthetic and Bonnaroo, on paper, go together like fried egg and avocado on a burger, the latter of which we inhaled in less than two minutes.
DeMarco was in top form with his usual goofy persona breaking up the set as he launched into one righteous guitar assault after another. The languid "Viceroy" harmoniously traveled the Bonnaroo air, followed by a sharp left turn toward what we assume was an impromptu cover of Steely Dan's "Reelin' in the Years."
The set closed as they always do for DeMarco, hands behind his brown mop of hair with his back sailing across a sea of hands.