There’s a peculiar air to Bonnaroo this year – sales are down, and people are talking – with an inordinate sense of dread and despondency in regard to the festival’s headlining acts – Dead & Co., LCD Soundsystem, and Pearl Jam. With that in mind, its not like anyone is overwrought with despair – people just seem kind of bummed there aren’t any Beatles or living (and aging) legends confirmed (Goldenvoice has that market cornered) for the lineup – most folks just seem kind of aimless (and not necessarily due to the assistance of various substances). Despite such a scenario, it wasn’t enough to quell my campsite neighbor’s conspiratorial fancies – he was incredibly excited for the “surprise sets from Prince and David Bowie…” I didn’t have the heart to try and tell him otherwise.
With all that being said, Day One of Bonnaroo 2016 was mostly devoid of festival “dread,” as the vibrant and enthusiastic masses greatly outnumbered off-brand pessimism and the conspiracy theories of my campground neighbor. The slate of Day One performers was certainly slimmer than the following three days (as is the case), but as far as benchmark performances for the rest of the festival are concerned, Bonnaroo Day One brought about a strong repertoire of performances – including sets from Joseph, Roots of a Rebellion, and Bully.