Bonnaroo Day 1 – First impressions

Exhaustion hasn’t quite set in yet. Here are my first impressions from day 1, soon to be fleshed out with an expanded commentary on the whole experience. And lots of pictures.

The Big Sleep

Great big fuzzy, garage rock orbiting shoegaze. Quite a few all-instrumental tracks. Things started off a bit shaky, sloppy, but tightened up significantly over the course of the set. Crowd energy was lax near the beginning of the set, but ratcheted up after every song until a modest mosh-pit erupted in the subdued, table-filled lounge. This set was probably my first pleasant surprise of the weekend.


For vets, these guys surprised me the most negatively. I found their set extremely bland and generic, almost summarizing the negatives associated with the “jam” genre. I cringed even more when they blatantly cashed in on their major hit single “Sucked Out” (interestingly, I had completely forgotten that link until they started in on the chorus).


Fantastic funky feel, extremely tight grooves. Played all the favorites and added some jam extensions to bridge their retro-funk brand of electro-pop with the more mainstream, stereotypical Bonnaroo fare. Again, fantastic crowd response. Voluminous and muscular call-and-returns. Set was marred a bit by increasingly frequent bouts of feedback.


Great set showcasing these instrumental powerhouses. Soundchecked for almost 20 minutes. Extremely tight, despite numerous sound problems. The most lasting impression I had was probably how perfectionist the guys are, tweaking the soundboard after every song until almost mid-set.

Vampire Weekend

Premiered some new, more angular material. Showed a little more progression with more complex and layered arrangements. Elicited the strongest crowd response. It was a little alarming to me that it seemed almost everyone in the crowd knew the lyrics from nearly every song off their debut LP. If anything, this encapsulated the power and influence the internet has over this generation’s musical consciousness. A band as young as Vampire Weekend has certifiably exploded.

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