The first morning at the Bonnaroo campground was deceptively cool. We were able to sleep past 10 AM, leading us to believe that our improvised canopy would keep the tent cool as the sun punished us over the course of the weekend. This would later prove false, but getting one full night’s sleep early on was essential to our survival.
Thursday is usually a pretty chill day at Bonnaroo, as Centeroo doesn’t open until noon and there’s not much music going on for the rest of the day. However, as soon as we ventured out of our campground, we found ourselves staring a massive rain cloud in the face. The storm caught us out in the open, dumping torrential rain on us for about ten minutes. Even though the storm passed quickly over us, it was enough to dismantle many of the campgrounds around ours, though our shelter stayed put reasonably well, considering the amount of duct tape used to keep it up.
After making the trek to repair the shelter and back to Centeroo, we spent the remainder of the day trudging through mud that would stick around for most of the festival. However, we were able to catch a couple acts here and there, the first of which was MURS, a relatively underground rapper who put on a surprisingly good show for the stylistic simplicity of his music. His stage antics were enough to keep a good-sized crowd under the Other Tent for the full hour of his set, though the consistent rain couldn’t have hurt.
Two hours and a couple slices of Spicy Pie found us back at the Other Tent for the last big act of the night, West-Coast hip-hop duo People Under the Stairs. I was especially excited for PUtS, as I’ve always thought of them as one of the better underground hip-hop acts to find relative prominence in the increasingly muddled rap scene.
Let me just say that I really wanted this to be a good set, for my own enjoyment as well as for the success of PUtS. This was probably the biggest crowd they’ve ever pulled, and it was a huge chance for them. However, about two songs in, it became clear that the larger venue did not suit their style. They came out with about as much energy as a Willie Nelson show, with none of the character. The crowd started to thin about ten minutes in, the two of us included. In a smaller, more private setting, I can see PUtS kicking way more ass, especially if more devoted fans were present. The Bonnaroo crowd simply didn’t stick with them, and their stage presence suffered because of it.
So, the last show of the night was disappointing, but by that time we were both ready to get of the rain and mud and take one last shot at a decent night’s sleep before the festival really kicked into gear on Friday.
Check back for part 3 soon.