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Bonnaroo 2014 – Day Two Recap

Jason Merritt, Getty Images

The sun rose behind some pretty menacing, but ultimately harmless, clouds on the first full day of programming at Bonnaroo 2014. The weird, borderline cool weather was merely a contextual side note as Friday the 13th — on the 13th Bonnaroo — raged well into the early morning under a full moon. Festival Friday was just heating up as sweaters were being broken out.

Indie-soul rockers Dr. Dog kicked the hazy, humid day off with a road-tested live workout. Shining vocals and jagged guitars rang out across the Which Stage field as the band played to a sea of swaying hips. The early afternoon lethargy was eventually given a direct shot of adrenaline as rapper Danny Brown backloaded hits from his most recent LP ‘Old.’ The crowd at the Other Stage never waned with cuts like ‘Kush Coma,’ ’25 Bucks’ and ‘Dip’ receiving the most spirited reactions.

Bonnaroo is famous for its wide array of delicious food options, so hopefully one would have fueled up before 7:30, when marquee acts like Vampire Weekend, Chvrches, Phoenix, and Neutral Milk Hotel all started within an hour of each other as they all vied for pre-headliner attention.

Vampire Weekend likely suffered the most from this split, since their main stage set, now completely mastered after a year of touring, filled only about half of the field. This was likely because Chvrches were busy illuminating the Other Tent, and dedicated fans gathered for a long overdue singalong with Neutral Milk Hotel.

Their sound was eventually blown out by Bonnaroo veterans Phoenix, who returned to the Which Stage armed with explosive new songs like ‘Entertainment’ and career-making favorites like ’1901.’ Frontman Thomas Mars spent plenty of time up close and personal with the festival crowd while continually screaming ‘Bonnaroo!’ giddily throughout the set.

For our money, shock rap duo Die Antwoord were easily the most fun hip-hop act Friday had to offer, but the crown of most, well, everything else went to half of the Throne. Kanye West‘s epic fall from grace with the Bonnaroo crowd has become a part of festival lore. Entry lines and portable toilets since his 2008 catastrophe have regularly seen the words “F— Kanye” scribbled in all manners of since then.

So, as someone who always feels like he has something to prove, West definitely felt the need to extend a literal and metaphorical middle finger back in the other direction. Defiant throughout, the virtuoso rapper and producer dropped hit after hit after hit while segueing in and out of stories about his own frustrations in the years since his last appearance.

As always, the reaction from the back was mixed, since Yeezus’ abrasive attitude is never going to click with everyone, but the crowd in the pit bounced for ‘Touch the Sky,’ sang along to ‘Runaway’ and let it all out for set closer ‘Blood on the Leaves.’

It may have lacked the theatricality of West’s arena tour, but he faced one of his biggest adversaries straight in the eye minus fireworks and backup dancers. ”Where the press at?” he asked repeatedly and frantically throughout his set. Right here Yeezus, and you win again.

Next: Bonnaroo Day One Recap

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