Photo by Sarah Grace Taylor / MTSU Seigenthaler News Service
Story by Sarah Grace Taylor / MTSU Seigenthaler News Service
MANCHESTER, Tenn. — There’s a world of difference between going to Bonnaroo and performing at Bonnaroo.
“I’ve been coming here for 10 (expletive) years,” Jessey Clark yelled from the New Music on Tap Lounge stage in Bonnaroo’s Centeroo on Saturday. “This is the best day of my life.”
Clark is the lead singer of Nashville-based indie rock band Creature Comfort, who played their first-ever Bonnaroo show this year.
The band is composed of Jessey Clark, Cole Bearden, Taylor Cole and Nick Rose, who graduated Middle Tennessee State University in 2012, 2014, 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Cole, Bearden and Clark met in their hometown of Tullahoma, Tennessee, later meeting Rose at MTSU. The band has played with these same members since 2013, running the Middle Tennessee gamut of performances.
“We’ve basically played everything,” Cole said in an interview Thursday evening on the Bonnaroo grounds. “We played house shows and birthday parties (at) Exit/In and Mercy Lounge, but this will be our first major festival.”
The band made it to Bonnaroo by way of the 2017 Road to the Roo competition, a grueling four-week bracket of club shows against Tennessee’s top up-and-coming musicians.
“We stopped working on our album so we could practice, and we worked incredibly hard,” Cole said. “Man, it was worth it.”
After beating 31 other bands from Nashville and Memphis competing for the spot, the band made it to Bonnaroo.
On Thursday, about 48 hours before their set, the band was feeling surreal, facing what Clark called the “single biggest moment” of their career.
“Usually every year on Sunday, I would watch the last artist on the Which Stage, and I would leave feeling empowered but kind of melancholy, because I would think, ‘I could do this; I really want this,’ but it seemed so far away,” Clark said. “I’m speechless, and I’ll honestly probably cry on stage if it ever sinks in.”
Saturday, on the heels of fellow Nashville band COIN, the four took to the stage in front of about 200 friends, family and festival goers. A dreamy, funky breed of indie rock followed.
As the band performed the first two of their original songs, “Light Boy” and “Blue Blood,” foot-stomping began, and the crowd embraced the newcomers’ groovy rhythm.
Later the band showed off their songwriting and vocal merit, namely with their new single “Common John Southern Shame,” during which Clark shined as the band’s frontman.
Consistently, the electric, soulful bass and guitar riffs of Bearden and Rose stole the show, elevating the group from modern indie band to a unique combination of sounds reminiscent of The Arctic Monkeys and Courtney Barns.
As the crowd grew to upward of 600 onlookers, the band fed off of the energy, earning new fans.
“I had never heard of them before, but I will absolutely see them anytime I have the chance,” said North Carolina native Halley Monson, clutching the copy of Creature Comfort’s “Echoes and Relics” she bought after the show.
After a commanding performance on drums, Cole, beaming with sweat and excitement, summed up the band’s experience.
“I’m tired,” Cole said. “I’m tired, but that was great — one of the best shows we’ve ever played. It was exhilarating.”
The Bonnaroo stars are now heading back to Nashville, where they will focus on writing their album and their next festival goal: Nashville’s Live on the Green.
For more Bonnaroo coverage, click here.