Thousands of music fans poured into the 2012 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on Thursday (June 7), some shirtless, some sunburned, some clutching frisbees, and all ready for four days of fun in Manchester, Tennessee. With a full slate of bands and beautiful weather expected for the weekend, festival-goers became once again acquainted with the sprawling grounds as a half-day of artist performances populating the three main tents (but not the two largest stages) got underway.
Thursday's lineup was dominated by a heavy dose of Internet-hyped hip-hop, with Danny Brown, Yelawolf and Kendrick Lamar following one another in This Tent. But superb rock acts weren't hard to find either: the Lonely Forest and Cave Singers both entertained their sizable crowds, Phantogram offered blissed-out alt-rock after the sun set, and, of course, the Alabama Shakes shook Tennessee, with Brittany Howard scorching the earth before her.
Aside from the killer performances, what else was going on at Bonnaroo on Thursday? Check out what the Billboard.com team saw and heard throughout the day:
LIVE AT BONNAROO -- THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS
1. Hours before his high-octane set, Alabama rapper Yelawolf was popping shots with his buddies in the artist area, playing an arcade-style basketball free throw game outside the bar. From the looks of it, they weren't just shooting jumpers -- they were playing Horse.
2. Kendrick Lamar finished his 45-minute set with a special guest jumping around like a lunatic onstage -- Danny Brown, whose own set concluded less than 2 hours earlier. Lamar took the crowd home with "Cartoons and Cereal," which zonked-out cut with Gunplay, before storming off the stage.
3. The most ubiquitous article of always-fascinating Bonnaroo attire was the Rajon Rondo jersey; Game 6 of the Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference Finals took place on Thursday night, and more music fans were representing the Boston point guard than Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The most hilarious piece of clothing? The hat worn by a kind-looking older gentleman that read, "Trust Me. Love Me. F--k Me."
4. How did Danny Brown kill some time before his 7:00 pm set? By walking around the Bonnaroo main grounds, and passing out bandanas with the artwork of his "XXX" mixtape on them to anyone who recognized the Detroit rapper, of course.
5. Phantogram's set featured the oddest assortment of items being held up by the crowd: a pirate flag, SBTRKT mask (relax guys, he'll be here on Saturday), road sign that read "This is a good sign" and glowing stuffed teddy bear on a stick were waved around while tracks like "When I'm Small" reverberated across the grounds.
6. Some artists had their fans ready to sing along to every word -- Danny Brown's Bruiser Brigade knew even the trickiest, filthiest similes of "Monopoly" -- while others like de facto headliners the Alabama Shakes, who formed just three years ago, were curiosities to the unfamiliar crowd. Still, unstoppable front woman Brittany Howard willed the audience into singing along to the righteous anthem "Hold On" two songs into the group's set. The rest was gravy from there.
7. Rumor has it that EMA, who presented her dedicated crowd with a full-throttle, snarling performance late in the afternoon, are forgoing the hotel-for-one-night artist approach to the festival, and are camping with the rest of the 'Roo masses. More power to her!
8. "Superjam" is going down late on Saturday night with Roots drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson and what the bill describes as "very special guests" -- and if our sources today are correct, "special" is an understatement. Festival goers: do not miss this performance.