I've spent a lot of days at Bonnaroo, but the Friday this year has put most of them to shame. Not only was the weather perfect, but the lineup was consistently excellent from the opening of the first stages up through the early hours of the morning. For now I want to focus on some of the outstanding indie rock on display. We were treated to shows by Jay Som, Car Seat Headrest, Glass Animals and a special late night performance from Portugal, the Man. Each of these groups absolutely killed their respective sets. Jay Som are an Oakland based guitar outfit with a great sound and a clever turn of phrase both lyrically and musically. They packed the New Music on Tap Stage with good reason and will no doubt be back to a larger venue soon. Car Seat Headrest poured in a remarkable early evening set that was primarily focused on last year's record Teens of Denial. Every time I see these guys they are that much more powerful live. The crowd was packed into the tent and ready to scream along with every word. It's been a while since I've been in a crowd that in sync with the performance.
Glass Animals (otherwise known as that awkward moment when all of Roo showed up at the Which Stage at once), holy cow where to even begin. These guys have come a long way since I interviewed them here in 2015 before their early afternoon set. Everything is bigger, the crowds, the sound, the lights, the confidence. Not only can they work the crowd but their live arrangements of the tracks from How to be a Human Being were inventive, unexpected and turned up the tempo for the festival crowd that was clearly there to dance. It's amazing to see this group come so far in such a short time and well deserved.
Finally, I need to talk about Portugal, the Man. This was their fourth performance at Roo and easily their best here, certainly the best I have seen them anywhere and probably one of their best shows ever and definitely one of the best things I have seen here in recent years. The band came out to wake the farm up after a rather introspective set from U2 and boy did they succeed. In a career spanning 90 minute set that was bookended with "Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue" with "Another Brick in the Wall" as intro, the band was obviously there to give everything they had. There was little chatting with the crowd except to affirm that Roo was their first festival and their favorite. All of the energy went into the music which punctuated the first day perfectly.
It's going to be hard to top this one but let's see what Saturday has planned.