After warming up the Manchester, Tenn. crowd on Thursday night, Bonnaroo was in full force Friday. The main stage finally opened, and the first round of top dog (and Top Dawg) acts was deployed. Deadmau5 handled headlining duties with a midnight set, and elsewhere, the supporting stars were on point. Kendrick Lamar continued to perplex fans by leaving To Pimp a Butterfly largely out of his set list, but Good Kid, M.A.A.D City held its own. Kacey Musgraves previewed her upcoming sophomore album Pageant Material and could hardly have looked more at home doing it. Check out Billboard’s timestamped diary of the day’s top moments below:
2:26 PM: Devil horns pop up throughout the crowd as doom metal band Pallbearer finishes out one of their sludgy opuses. Metalheads apparently wake up early.
3:26 PM: Shout out to the father/husband/mid 60s gentleman who is watching over all of his family’s electronic devices at a charging station. A day’s worth of crucial Snapchats hangs in the balance.
3:55 PM: “Come on motherfuckers,” screams singer/bassist Mike Kerr of the thunderous English twosome Royal Blood. The crowd’s raucous reply to the first notes of “Figure it Out” makes it clear they don’t mind being insulting in the name of assaultive garage rock.
4:02 PM: Everyone has a comment to make about Royal Blood being a duo — including Kerr himself. “Let me introduce you to the rest of the band,” he tells the crowd, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “Ben Fisher on drums everybody! And that’s the rest of the band.”
4:03 PM: Over at the Who Stage, Elle King is battling Royal Blood’s sound spilling over from the much larger Which Stage, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Elle blues-rocks through the irreverent feminist jam “Good to Be a Man” and ends with some #RealTalk: “A lot of people gave me a hard time with that song, like, ‘You hate men.’ I said, ‘No I don’t. I slept with half of y’all.'”
4:57 PM: Drummer Riley Geare of psych poppers Unknown Mortal Orchestra incites the crowd into a frenzy with a three minute drum solo.
5:00 PM: Against Me! hits the stage at This Tent and sounds scorching and squeaky-clean from the get-go. The big punk hooks keep coming as Laura Jane Grace and company lead the set with “I Was a Teenage Anarchist,” “True Trans Soul Rebel,” and “Unconditional Love.”
5:28 PM: Against Me! dips into its 2007 major label affair New Wave and gets its strongest crowd response so far. The front portion of the This Tent crowd erupts into a melee for “Thrash Unreal,” as the backing vocals of guitarist James Bowman and bassist Inge Johansson help Grace drive the thumping rocker.
5:38 PM: The members of Dawes are officially seasoned ‘Roo vets with their third performance at the fest, but it’s only their first time playing on the main stage. “It’s a whole different experience,” relates singer Taylor Goldsmith. We believe you.
6:26 PM: As if anyone in the audience could possibly be sleeping through Moon Taxi’s energetic jams, the Nashville-based outfit finishes out their set with a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s classic “Wake Up.” The band is a well-known admirer of the Rage catalog, having performed a set of entirely RATM songs under the pseudonym People of the Sun in the past.
wow thank you so much Bonnaroo. that was a sauna like inferno of pure fun. honored to rock for you.
— el-p (@therealelp) June 13, 2015
6:54 PM: As if a gift from the ‘Roo gods, a gigantic inflatable beach ball – approximately eight feet in diameter – bounces in from the sun and into the writhing, grooving mass dancing to electronic pop duo Sylvan Esso.
6:56 PM: Stakes are high: Bonnaroo’s official ap sends out an alert that someone named Squish is trying to break the word record for high-fives in an hour over at the Other Tent. No final word is given on whether or not he/she succeeded.
7:10 PM: Over at That Tent, the gentlemen of Kacey Musgraves’ bolo tied backing band have been putzing around enough onstage to get the crowd into a chant of “Kacey! Kacey!” It’s still another five minutes before she’s scheduled to appear.
7:34 PM: Kacey Musgraves’ new single “Biscuits” is warmly received, but afterwards, some sass seeps through: “They just pulled that one off the fucking radio… whatever that means. Maybe they don’t like biscuits.”
7:37 PM: The neon green EDM sign that screams “PUKE AND RALLY” seems a tad out of place amid Alabama Shakes’ Southern rock scorchers.
7:47 PM: Musgraves introduces “This Town,” another new song. It’s dedicated to her hometown of tiny Mineola, Tex. There are shout outs to its sweet potato festival and “pretty good” Mexican restaurant, but alas, the song’s really about how Mineola was just too small for her. It’s okay, Kacey — you made it to the big time.
8:26 PM: Musgraves swaggers her set to a close with her take on Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.” It’s her third cover of the set, following TLC’s “No Scrubs” and Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” She also performed a sizzling rendition of Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” but that doesn’t count as a cover since, after all, Kacey wrote it.
9:36 PM: Chance the Rapper is spotted at the What Stage pre-Kendrick. The 22-year-old hip-hop artist moves through the V.I.P. lane that cuts the front sections of the main stage in half, high-fiving audience members screaming “Chance! Chance” with a big smile on his face. Tomorrow night he’ll take part in 2015’s Super Jam.
9:45 PM: With a backdrop screen playing a monochromatic video of cars, street corners, and scenes from Compton, Kendrick Lamar explodes onto the stage, tearing into the good kid, m.A.A.d city banger “Money Trees.”
10:15 PM: “The last time I was here the energy was about an eight and a half. We’re about to take it to a ten,” Kendrick explains before launching into “m.A.A.D city.”
— VibeMagazine (@VibeMagazine) June 13, 2015
10:20 PM: Apparently a “ten” isn’t good enough for Kendrick anymore. “You know what? Fuck an eight and a half. Fuck a ten. We’re going for twenty!” the rapper yells as he immediately reprises “m.A.A.D city,” the earthquake-inducing beat rousing the crowd even greater than before.
12:27 AM: Deadmau5 is entrancing a sprawling crowd around What Stage, the biggest stage in town. He’s not wearing his mask, but the camera pans to plenty of audience members who are picking up the slack.
Deadmau5 threw some shade at Governors Ball for sound issues regarding his new stage set-up last weekend:
I, for one, personally enjoy my little beer break during see ya 🙂 so awesome. Thank you bonnaroo for keeping the power on! Had fun!
— deadmau5 (@deadmau5) June 13, 2015
12:30 AM: Playing simultaneously on the other side of the fest from Deadmau5, Flying Lotus holds down for electronic fans looking for a bit more of a hip-hop flavor with their beeps and squiggles. A block of tunes off 2010’s Cosmogramma, including “Clock Catcher” and “Nose Art,” interrupts tracks from last year’s You’re Dead!
1:15 AM: The vibe is sleepy over at the New Music on Tap Lounge, with a small crowd sitting down or even reclined on pillows, waiting for French electropop duo The Dø to come out. They make a grand entrance to the delicate, blissful melodies of their song “Trustful Hands,” and continue to up the ante across a set driven by tracks from their new album Shake Shook Shaken. It’s the final date of their U.S. tour and their first ever American festival appearance. By the time they get to “Anita No!” and “Going Through Walls,” the crowd is feeling the magic.
2:00 AM: The Dø’s crowd wants more, but festival rules win out. “One more song!” chants have been going for the past two minutes, but the best singer Olivia Merilahti can do is come back out onstage for a final wave. Still, the band has proven itself big time.