2011 Bonnaroo: Day One roundup with J. Cole, Best Coast, Twin Shadow

A girl wearing an “Indian headdress” likely purchased at a costume shop lay dormant on the ground starting mid-Wavves, through the Knux and halfway through J. Cole. I happened to see her as I traveled from photo pit to photo pit at the big tents at Bonnaroo. Without lifting her sunglasses or moving, really, the girl”s limp fist raised from the ground into the air. “Fun!” she exclaimed, as her crew laughed around her.

Even on the half-day day one of the Manchester, Tenn., fest, there”s kids already whupped. It”s estimated to hover around 95 degrees every day for the four day fest, and a 30% chance for each. Even a sprinkle of showers could settle some dust that rises from the ground, creating what looks like fog but is really an unavoidable pitfall of events on a 80,000-person scale. You can taste the dirt, and revelers are without a puddle in sight in which to wallow, as per custom. There”s fountains and water slides opening up, and a considerable number of gentlemen in skimpy Speedos are starting to weigh out the amount of flesh that college girls permit themselves to bare.


“Let”s set this b*tch on fire,” Cole rhymed during his set, to a pit of waving arms and tan co-eds who likely felt warm enough to be on actual fire. The Jay-Z protege and rapper is obviously an earner, and while his set ran exceedingly long and flopped into sampling “Straight Up” and “Can I Get A…” just to keep lungs filling with air, he worked hard and pushed his latest “Friday Night Lights.” I can”t say I was a fan before, but I felt owned by his rolling, narrative style (though, compared to the few minutes of Childish Gambino I caught, Cole’s zingers arsenal cannot compare). It was a friendly reminder of Hov”s appearance last year, and where Cole is aiming.

Best Coast still doesn”t strike me as a multi-thousands band, but this unlikely rising rock group plays at about 7 or 8 all the time, and only plays 7 or 8, which was a striking volume for early celebrants. I”m pretty picky about female fronters, and lead Bethany Cosentino”s voice just gets me, particularly when you see the sweet face it comes out of. The surf and garage influences kind of blurred into each other, as did the songs, so The Knux was good to break it up…

I still don”t know entirely what is up with that band. It”s a party band. They all look good when they smoke cigarettes. But professionally, directionally, still can”t see what kind of records they make.

The latter is going to be a big deal. Just you watch. Trust me.

Meanwhile, Beats Antique sent me packing around 12:30. I”m not entirely sure why  these three “normal” dorks get to rock their jammies while their lady-guests wear burlesque gear and working the stage pounding a drum, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it”d be terribly boring to watch otherwise. This was not my cup of tonal tea, but I see why people like it.