After a wait that felt like an eternity, the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts festival is finally upon us. With a sold-out festival this year including a Beatle as a headliner, expectations are understandably massive. And although yesterday brought the disappointing news that headliners Mumford & Sons had cancelled (Mumford bass player Ted Dwane recently had surgery for a blood clot on the brain) and had been replaced with Jack Johnson, it doesn't seem like enough of a letdown to completely ruin the vibe that Bonnaroo cultivated after Sunday alone. With plenty of killer sets on Thursday, Bonnaroo 2013 is off to a fantastic start.
This is my second trip to Bonnaroo and it was clear just from the smaller Thursday sets that it's going to be a crowded festival this year. The area surrounding The Other Tent was nigh impassible for the sets for electro-house DJ/MPC machine wunderkind Araabmuzik as well the anthemic pop of Walk the Moon. And although Araabmuzik's particularly dub-heavy set may not have been my personal cup of tea, he was going over insanely well with the crowd who were rising and falling in perfect rhythm with his bass drops.
The set for Walk the Moon though was simply eye-opening and has officially placed these Cincinnati rockers on my future stars radar. I've been to better sets in my time, but I'm not sure if I've ever been to a show that was more fun than the one Walk the Moon put on last night at The Other Tent. Their energy was simply unmatched. Handing out face paint before the show began and wearing face paint themselves, Walk the Moon owned the stage like tribal warriors whose survival depended on how well they could rock out. Whether it was "Tightrope," "Shiver Shiver," or their true radio hit "Anna Sun," Walk the Moon's set was everything a live show should be. If you can go to a Walk the Moon set and not have a great time, something in you is broken.
Walk The Moon
However, the star set of the evening was Canadian lo-fi punk rockers Japandroids. If Celebration Rock
was one of your favorite albums of last year (and if you listened to that record, it probably was), do yourself a favor and buy tickets to Japandroids the next time they're in your tri-state area. Their ability to create a rich, textured sound despite only being a guitarist and a drummer is astounding, and Brian King is stage presence defined. It was damn near impossible to take clear pictures of him in the photo pit because he was thrashing across the stage with reckless abandon. Hearing several thousand people scream along to "The House That Heaven Built" or "Nights of Wine and Roses" like they'd known the songs their whole life was an experience that I could not have foreseen.
I saw other good sets yesterday (Milo Greene, Ariel Pink, the Stepkids, Killer Mike), but Walk the Moon and Japandroids have now set the bar for the sets to follow. However, something tells me that I'm going to see some shows today that will rise above even those two fantastic performances. My schedule for the day includes Reptar, Charli XCX, Of Monsters and Men, Grizzly Bear, Wilco, Paul McCartney, and Animal Collective so come back tomorrow for more pictures and coverage of this year's already fantastic Bonnaroo.