Photo by Gregory French / MTSU Seigenthaler News Service
MANCHESTER, Tenn. — The opening day of music at the 15th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival began with rock in the late afternoon and lasted into well into the early morning hours Friday, with several acts not even beginning their sets until past midnight as hip-hop and electronica acts created the soundtrack.
Cashmere Cat shows off Kanye ties
Cashmere Cat closed Bonnaroo 2016’s opening night with a high-energy, post-midnight show at the That Tent, a performance that marked his first time appearing at the festival.
A DJ, producer and turntablist, the Norwegian performer, born Magnus August Hoiberg, is known for creating his own hard-hitting beats while collaborating with high-profile artists such as Kanye West, 2 Chainz and Ludacris, as well as for touring with Ariana Grande. He opened the show with the intro to “Wolves,” his collaboration from West’s most recent album, “The Life of Pablo.”
During his hour-long set, Cashmere bathed the crowd in nonstop electronic dance as he controlled the atmosphere with precise, deft movements.
He even pulled out his phone to record the audience, presumably for his Snapchat, living up to his reputation of being one of the more entertaining celebrity accounts to follow on the social media app.
Despite not addressing the crowd vocally, he commanded the show by building and releasing tension with his intense drops, always preceded by a slow-burning buildup that kept the fans on their toes.
As his set progressed, stragglers at the festival epicenter Centeroo were drawn toward his stage to join an already packed crowd. The carefree mood was infectious, and upraised hands, beach balls and fan-made flags bounced above the throng throughout the show.
Cashmere ended his performance with a slower beat after coming full circle with “Waves,” another hit from Kanye’s most recent endeavor, a song that prompted an enthusiastic sing-along from the crowd.
— Tanner Dedmon, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @Tanner Dedmon
The Floozies get funky
The audience at the festival’s This Tent erupted into a nonstop dance session after midnight on on opening night, and The Floozies provided the funky soundtrack.
The Floozies are brothers Mark and Matt Hill. Mark plays drums live, while Matt switches between electric guitar, vocals and DJ-ing from his computer. The Kansas-based duo delivered more than an hour’s worth of funk-based electronic music, complete with saxophone stabs, rattling synths and jam-rock guitar solos. The pulsating hip-hop bass wobbled throughout and provided another layer over which the two could groove.
Matt Hill sampled a wide variety of tunes, ranging from Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” to the “Cantina Band” theme from “Star Wars.” The band blended these sample sections with selections from The Floozies’ own catalog, and seamless transitions from song to song assured the crowd never lost its energy.
The performance was accompanied by a stellar light show that was nearly as futuristic as the band’s sound. Before ending the performance, Matt Hill thanked the crowd for their engagement and excitement and was met with thunderous applause from hundreds of satisfied Bonnaroovians
— Evan Dunne, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @RippedDanger
Goldlink gives energetic set
The amount of hip-hop on this year’s Bonnaroo lineup is relatively light compared to the last few years, but that didn’t stop Washington D.C.-based rapper Goldlink from delivering one of the opening night’s most riveting and energetic sets.
Armed with a live band, a DJ and sporting a Garth Brooks tour T-shirt circa 1996, Goldlink burst onto stage with the intent of bringing his unique brand of experimental hip-hop/R&B to a hyped-up crowd of 20-somethings.
Rapping and singing his way through songs from his 2015 release “And After That, We Didn’t Talk” and his acclaimed 2014 mixtape “The God Complex,” the Rick Rubin collaborator moved all around the stage, barely staying still for more than few bars, usually delivered from the top of the The Other Tent’s stage monitors.
While originals, such as the viral hit “Spectrum” and the groove-heavy “Ay Ay” were the highlights, some of the most fun came from the performance’s DJ, Kidd Marvel. Marvel kicked the set off remixing underground dance tracks from Disclosure and hip-hop favorites from Chance the Rapper and Ludacris.
Later on, he and Goldlink led the crowd in sing-alongs to left-field hits such as Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.” On paper, that seems like a joke, at best; however, with Goldlink’s diverse sound and crowd that was up for anything at 1 a.m., it went down as one of Day One’s most fun sets.
— John Connor Coulston, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @JCCoulston
Waxahatchee opens on a bold note
Katie Crutchfield, the singer known as Waxahatchee, swept music fans right into the action of Bonnaroo with an instantly controversial late-afternoon set to help open the festival Thursday.
Backed by her girl-powered band, the Birmingham, Ala. native began her performance with a bold statement. She called Brock Turner, the former Stanford University swimmer convicted in a 2015 sexual assault case, a “rapist” after hitting the stage.
“Brock Turner is a rapist, and it doesn’t matter what else he’s done,” Crutchfield said.
A judge sentenced Turner last week to six months in county jail, prompting a widespread protest that the punishment was too lenient for the crime.The victim’s compelling statement also went viral.
Crutchfield then began playing tracks from “Ivy Tripp,” her critically acclaimed 2015 release that put her on the radar of both folk and rock fans. The singer-songwriter boasted her guitar skills and subtle-yet-commanding vocals throughout the set.
The crowd’s favorite moment was when the young artist played “Less Than.” The song steadily increased in tempo and crested into an applause-worthy guitar solo.
The set also included hits such as “La Loose” and “Air” alongside lesser-known pieces from earlier releases. Waxahatchee’s melancholy tone and lyricism brought a retrospective wisdom to the forefront of her performance, without subtracting from the carefree feel of the festival.
— Olivia Ladd, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @LivSlaton
Chicago’s Twin Peaks Soar
Shortly after the sun set outside the festival’s This Tent, Chicago-based five-piece Twin Peaks laid down a scuzzy garage rock set to warm up the weekend.
Three years ago, shortly after the band released their 2013 debut album, “Sunken,” Twin Peaks garnered a faithful local following and some national attention. Now the band’s on tour with Cage the Elephant in support of their third album, “Down In Heaven,” with a few festival stops along the way.
The three vocalists — Cadien Lake James, Clay Frankel and Jack Dolan — took turns leading the tracks in a Beatles-esque fashion. James, dressed in a Superman shirt and matching cape, and company coaxed the eager crowd to rock out with them, from the opening notes of “Good Lovin’” to the last song.
“We still good out there, right? Let’s go, let’s get going,” Dolan asked halfway through the set, though it was clear the crowd didn’t want to stop anytime soon.
Some of the most raucous moments arrived during the riveting tracks “I Found a New Way” and “Flavor,” both off 2014’s “Wild Onion.” In addition to the energy on stage, there was no shortage of crowd surfing — a staple at music festivals — as the set served as the perfect soundtrack for traveling up to the stage.
— Dylan Aycock, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @dylskye
Lola wolf slinks through sexy set
In interviews, singer and actress Zoe Kravitz has described her experience with her band Lolawolf as a type of vacation, something she does in her spare time when films don’t keep her employed.
And when she strutted onto Bonnaroo’s The Other Tent stage, starting the late-afternoon Thursday set a fashionable 15 minutes late, the daughter of rock star Lenny Kravitz and famed actress Lisa Bonet oozed cool.
By the time the band’s signature static video played on the back screen, the rambunctious crowd had begun chanting “Lolawolf” and getting in the mood, so to speak, for Kravitz’s first song, the hit “AYO,” which partially is about friends getting high. Kravitz even cheekily encouraged her fans to share a joint if they had it.
Debuting at Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge in November 2013, Lolawolf has forged their own path in the electro-pop world, creating a bold sound with frequent trap-pop influences and kick drums. The ultimate result is a sexy sound you could either dance to or sway to.
By the time Kravitz segued into more energetic hits such as “Calm Down,” she commanded the entire crowd. Dressed in just a T-shirt, shorts and sunglasses, she slinked around the stage, frequently walking in circles with varying proximity to the crowd, throwing sly glances every now and then.
It was as if she had put everyone under a trance, and she knew it.
— Sara Snoddy, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @Sara_Snoddy
Roots of a rebellion thrill, chill
As one of Bonnaroo’s opening acts during the late afternoon Thursday, Nashville-based reggae-rock band Roots of a Rebellion helped a crowd of festival-goers looking to start their weekend appropriately: in peace.
Displayed across electronic monitors throughout Bonnaroo is the message, “Bonnaroo is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Prepare yourselves.” While intended to serve as a reminder to Bonnaroovians to properly hydrate themselves in the sweltering sun, the same method could be applied to what shows you choose to attend as well.
Roots of a Rebellion earned their spot on the opening day lineup by winning the annual BMI “Road to Bonnaroo” battle of the bands contest this spring in local nightclubs. The band made their first-time performance at the festival count for the hometown crowd.
“Thank you so much for being with us, Cashville. Stand up,” guitarist Marco Martinez said.
Performing songs from their latest album “Heartifact” as well as their new single “Peace and Love,” Roots of Rebellion established the peaceful, serene vibe anyone could gravitate toward in a music festival.
“Peace and love,” Martinez said, “represents what Bonnaroo is about.”
Opening the festival’s New Music on Tap Lounge stage, the local band encapsulated the enthusiastic, spontaneous vibe that enthralls festival patrons when they first arrive in Manchester. While not particularly large, the crowd was tightly-packed with spirited fans excited to be on the campgrounds.
Whether dancing along to the vibrations of the synth, hula-hooping to the groove of the bass or sipping beer to the sounds of a trumpet, the crowd was savoring every bit of the opening moment.
For it may be their last peaceful moment this entire weekend.
— Evan Brown, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service
LANY starts festival in style
Kicking off Bonnaroo‘s 2016 music lineup, dream pop band LANY (pronounced LAY-nee) brought just a tweak of edge and the right amount of good vibes to start off the 15th annual festival.
For a band that has only been around for two years, LANY opened to an invigorated This Tent crowd usually reserved for more veteran acts. Red lights crisscrossed the stage before their memorable drum grooves in “Bad, Bad, Bad” flooded the This Tent.
The Los Angeles-based trio — Paul Klein, Les Priest and Jake Goss — achieves the atmospheric quality of their music by honing the melody and the concept of the song before lyrics ever bleed on to the page. It’s this hypnotic minimalism that captivates listeners, and the references to their California-dreamin’ lifestyle only add layers of narrative.
LANY’s set included their smooth, slightly older hits such as “Hot Lights” and “Made in Hollywood.” “WHERE THE HELL ARE MY FRIENDS” and their most recent release, “ILYSB” (translated to, “I Love You So Bad”), proved to be crowd pleasers, prompting shouts and applause as soon as the beat became recognizable.
“Thank you so much,” lead vocalist Klein said at the end of the set. “We will remember this for the rest of our lives.”
— Sara Snoddy, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @Sara_Snoddy
Børns provides psychedelic show
Pop singer Garrett Borns, who operates under the stage name BØRNS, delivered a 60-minute performance at This Tent Thursday night at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
After becoming an overnight sensation earlier this year for his hit single “Electric Love,” BØRNS performed at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April and is slated to perform at Glastonbury Festival later this month in Pilton, UK. BØRNS has long been a performer prior to this summer of music festivals, starting out at age 10 orchestrating magic tricks for tips in his small town on the edge of Lake Michigan. In addition to being an American music sensation, BØRNS is also a professional magician, well fitting with this year’s Bonnaroo theme of magic.
Kicking off his set with “Seeing Stars,” BØRNS performed fourteen songs to a vigorous crowd sang along to every word. BØRNS himself was interactive with the crowd, stopping several times throughout the set to thank them for attending his show. His excitement at performing opening night at Bonnaroo was contagious.
The stage setup was visually astounding, with a kaleidoscopic background that paired perfectly with his psychedelic tunes.
Sprinkled in BØRNS’ set of songs from his debut album Dopamine were two covers. The first was Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies),” followed by a tribute to the late music legend David Bowie with “Heroes.”
In terms of modern psychedelic music, BØRNS can be described as a more pop-oriented cousin to rock outfits like Moon Taxi and delivered the same feel that Moon Taxi frontman Trevor Terndrup provides to crowds.
Closing the show with crowd favorite “Electric Love,” BØRNS crooned his lyrics into the mic before disappearing off stage, and with that, sealed his fate as one of most highly revered acts of the night.
-Brinley Hineman, MTSU Seigenthaler News Service, Twitter: @_briiindle
To see our full archive of Bonnaroo coverage, click here.
To contact Lifestyles Editor Olivia Ladd email firstname.lastname@example.org.