Bonnaroo 2014 kicked off in Manchester, Tenn. on Thursday afternoon (June 12) with a half-day’s worth of music and general madness. As campers settled in, rising artists like Banks, Real Estate and MS MR welcomed the crowds to the fest with strong performances, and as always, lots of characters were spotted on the grounds. Take a time-stamped look at the 20 hottest happenings on the festival’s first day. Find out the Preatures singer’s onstage regret, which covers MS MR blasted through and why Pusha T is still grindin’.
3:32 PM: The first “Sun’s Out, Guns Out” tank top is spotted on the festival grounds, roughly half an hour after the first band has taken the stage. Approximately 178 more will be seen by week’s end.
3:41 PM:Izzi Manfredi, the singer of Aussie rock group the Preatures, has indulged in the benefits of a Tennessee music festival and is ruing the consequences. “I had a big plate of barbecue,” Manfredi admits to the crowd. “Big mistake! Big mistake!”
4:45 PM: Glassnote artist Robert Delong tops his highly danceable set with a crowd favorite, “Global Concepts,” much to the delight of a nearby two-year-old who is watching atop his father’s shoulders.4:48 PM: Free donuts! A kiosk is giving away sugary treats near That Tent, and although the donuts are about the size of a half-dollar, the 10-minute line is worth that deliciousness.
5:30 PM: Overheard from a random passerby, about what is surely the must-hear album of the year: “It’s like dubstep, sort of, but it’s not.”
6:01 PM: A crowd of bewildered festival goers gather by the Silent Disco tent and draw wry smiles at the awkward, grunting, noiseless spectacle before them. The Silent Disco has moved locations and has greatly expanded this year, and as Quickie Mart drops (presumably) another banger, the headphones crowd goes wild.
7:02 PM: Fans hanging out by the What Stage get a little taste of what’s to come during Kanye West‘s headlining set on Friday night, as the beat from G.O.O.D. Music’s “Clique” blares during a soundcheck.
7:30 PM: Ready for the good vibes? After a spot of rain showers, Real Estate open up their twilight set with “Beach Comber” to a warm reception, and the skies literally clear.7:42 PM: And the celebrity’s-head-as-cardboard-stick-sign tradition begins with a bang, as a bug-eyed shot of embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford is spotted floating above a crowd. Meanwhile, in the field:
8:24 PM: How do you fill an hour-long Bonnaroo set when you’ve only got one album? In MS MR‘s case, with a few ace covers. After playing their road-tested version of Arctic Monkeys’ “Do I Wanna Know,” Lizzy Plapinger and co. swivel to a cover of LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yrself Clean.” 8:37 PM: A “U-S-A! U-S-A!” chant breaks out minutes after MS MR wraps its set — a nod to the impending action in the World Cup, which is being broadcast on a giant TV screen between This Tent and The Other Tent.
9:05 PM: Tennessee’s own Cherub brings their electrofunk vibes to Bonnaroo with “Disco Shit,” a cut from their new album “Year of the Caprese.” A few hours earlier, the duo told Billboard that it still wasn’t sure which “Caprese” track would be the follow-up single to “Doses & Mimosas.”
9:16 PM: Cloud Nothings kick into the nine-minute jam of “Wasted Days,” thundering through the extended breakdowns in its closing. The mosh pit keeps expanding towards the front of the stage, making for one of the night’s most intense moments.
9:36 PM: On the Which Stage, which is not in operation on Thursday night, a crew is constructing a beet-red mini-mountain onstage that resembles the Aggro Crag from “Nickelodeon Guts.” It’s hardly a surprise — after all, Skrillex will be taking the stage in about 28 hours for a late-night Friday set.
10:39 PM: Miami Heat fans dejectedly pour out of the Cinema Tent, where they had been watching the San Antonio Spurs dominate in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. The moody R&B of Banks, performing on the adjacent This Tent, is a fitting soundtrack to basketball sorrow.
10:45 PM: Unabashed Euphoria Alert at This Tent: “This is one of the best moments of my life! I’m not kidding!” Banks tells the Bonnaroo crowd before launching into set closer “Waiting Game.”
10:59 PM: Hannibal Buress chats with a friend while watching Poliça from the side of the stage, a few hours after wrapping a performance in the Comedy Tent.
11:33 PM: A gargantuan party bus is slowly driving away from Which Stage with neon lights outlining its exterior and women in pastel outfits gyrating on its hood. Upon further investigation, the vehicle is revealed to be Walter, the World’s Largest VW Bus at a height of 13 feet and 2 inches.
12:32 AM: Pusha T offers a tasty appetizer of Kanye’s headlining set by playing a medley of his G.O.O.D. Music-affiliated hits — “So Appalled,” “Runaway,” “Mercy” and “I Don’t Like (Remix)” — in between tracks from his solo debut “My Name Is My Name.” Pusha performs more guest verses on Kanye West songs than actual Clipse songs (although he’s saving a propulsive rendition of “Grindin'” for the finale).12:58 AM: A Ric Flair lookalike is watching Pusha T, and his outfit is completed by a gold heavyweight belt and a mint green robe with “Nature Boy” written across the shoulders. It might be time for bed soon.