Bonnaroo kicked off its 2015 installment yesterday evening, with a shorter day that featured artists performing in tents before the larger Which and What stages open on Friday. This year had a particularly exciting lineup to rev things up, featuring artists like Bear’s Den, Temples and Courtney Barnett.
Save for their huge “Shelter Song,” Temples hasn’t really broken out in the States the same way other psych outfits like Tame Impala has, but their set at The Other Tent on Thursday seemed to indicate that maybe that’s the direction they’re headed. They haven’t exactly reinvented the wheel, but their songs lend themselves perfectly to big festivals like Bonnaroo. Don’t be surprised if these guys are billed a lot higher on the next festival circuit. —Bonnie Stiernberg
“Well this is the biggest fuckin’ crowd we’ve ever played to,” mused Houndmouth’s Matt Myers mid-set at That Tent last night. You could tell they were having fun with the audience, which contained several die-hards who were belting every word to the songs, as they ran through mostly numbers from this year’s Little Neon Limelight. Party-mood numbers like “My Cousin Greg” were reined in with the more sultry “Gasoline,” and their closer “Runaround Sue” had everyone dancing. —Dacey Orr
The Growlers hit the stage 15 minutes late on Thursday night, but once they got up there, they didn’t waste any time. Frontman Brooks Nielsen seemed genuinely moved by the crowd’s responsiveness to songs like “One Million Lovers,” “Good Advice” and “Big Toe” and in turn delivered a really strong performance. A beach goth lovefest if ever there was one. —Bonnie Stiernberg
If all you know of Courtney Barnett is what you’ve heard on her record, you’ve only got half the story. While words like “laidback” and “laissez-faire” get tossed around about her album, Barnett turns up the energy live and rocks to the point where Nirvana comparisons are inevitable. On Thursday night at the This Tent, it was the same story, and the crowd (which included an air-drumming Christopher Mintz-Plasse) loved every second of it, screaming along to favorites like “Avant Gardener” and “Depreston.” By the time it was all over, they were literally chanting her name. —Bonnie Stiernberg
Benjamin Booker is one to watch this festival season, and between his deft guitar playing and on-stage howls, the set was one that drew in passerby whether they were familiar with Booker or not. But it wasn’t a wholly new crowd, and “Have You Seen My Son” and “Violent Shiver” sparked ripples of recognition through the masses. It was a jumping-up-and-down danceable atmosphere that kicked off the weekend of wild sets on a high note. —Dacey Orr