The 11th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival welcomed patrons into a noticeably different festival ground. Last year’s scorching weather left a Centeroo looking so barren and dry that the weekend felt Dust Bowl-esque. With the addition of new cooling tents, misting and water stations, and shaded areas, patrons were happy to finally find plenty of space to escape from the harsh rays of the Tennessee summer sun while enjoying their favorite bands.
As crowds began pouring into Centeroo, Fort Atlantic warmed up anxious patrons in the Miller Lite Great Taste Lounge until Tennessee Southern rockers The Dirty Guv’nahs officially kicked off the festivities.
While many floated back and forth between stages to see early evening shows like The Lonely Forest, The Cave Singers, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., bands began claiming festival firsts. Brooklyn-based dance band Rubblebucket claimed the title of first crowd surfer of the year as a trumpet player jumped into the crowd surrounding the Solar Stage. EMA was the first to use her head to create an impromptu instrument out of her microphone and possibly claimed the title of first injury as she powered through after slicing her finger open halfway through the show. Later in the night, Alabama rapper Yelawolf performed the first, and surely not the last, tribute of the festival in honor of MCA.
As the night began to wind down, festivalgoers experienced the first big-name head-to-head of the year. On one side of the farm Big Gigantic’s electronic beats and deep bass where met with a sea of glow sticks and swaying bodies. On the other side, Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard’s voice boomed throughout the farm—proving that you don’t laser lights and big bass drops to satisfy the late night crowd.