Bonnaroo 2012: DPR’s Day One [Alabama Shakes, White Denim, Rubblebucket, More]

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Suggestion: Dont touch the Suggestion Box
  • Suggestion: Don't touch the "Suggestion Box"
As Spurgeon already noted, a sizable faction of Team Cream is set up, swanky style, in an enormous RV. A really awesome guy who looked more than a bit like Chris Cooper in Adaptation hitched the two-and-a-half-ton behemoth to my truck yesterday morning, and off we rolled. Piloting the damn thing was completely nightmarish, and I did battle with a couple of tight turns. But there was also a heroic professional tour bus driver who effectively commandeered my vehicle at one point in order to prevent me from bottoming out in a ditch. It was awe-inspiring, and the most impressive performance I’ve seen yet.

Once we got Camp Cream set up and began enjoying the completely luxurious amenities, all the stress vanished. Tooling around Centeroo on the newly re-turfed walkways, I soon noticed a station called Soberoo. It’s exactly what it sounds like: A support area for “clean and sober Bonnaroo fans.” Fancy that. Makes sense when you think about it. We are on Temptation Island out here, surrounded by a sea of booze, psychedelics and psychotropics.

Anyway, there are newly instituted wristband scan spots at every turn — they look a bit like the anti-theft scanners at Target or FYE or whatever, and they exist for data collection purposes. But not the scary kind of data collection. I don’t think. Follow me after the jump to read about some of the Thursday haps — from Rubblebucket and Yelawolf to Alabama Shakes and White Denim — and stay tuned for photo sets. Intermittent wi-fi service and massive image files are not friends.

As my colleagues noted, the shoegaze-y, synth-poppy post-rock of EMA wasn’t exactly the most compelling way to start of our ‘Roo 2012 experience. There were violins and atmospheric guitar parts and style-over-substance vocals that had the melodramatic inflection of Bjork without the sheer talent. But I opted to venture inland after a few songs to see the shiny, sweet, world-influenced pop of Rubblebucket. They didn’t have the giant robot puppets that they did at SXSW, but they had the horns and bright colors and hooks.

Lance and Gold chilling out in the Cream-mobile
  • Lance and Gold chilling out in the Cream-mobile
Maloney will most certainly tell you all about Yelawolf’s This Tent performance in his forthcoming round-up, but I have to say I got a kick out of the Dirty Southern-boy-made-good representing Antioch to a crowd of seething ‘Roosters. Yela proved his rock-star status with crowd surfing and whiskey swilling, and while I preferred his original tunes over the medley of Johnny Cash, Outkast, Eminem and Beastie Boys tributes — RIP, MCA — it was the ideal way to appeal to a festival crowd. Something for everyone, et cetera. I was happy once I heard “Pop the Trunk,” and I’ll say that even if you don’t dig Yela’s aggressive style, it’s a transfixing show. Dude has star power.

Now, I’ve seen White Denim at just about every venue in Nashville — The Basement, Cannery Ballroom, Third Man Records … well, OK. Maybe that’s all. Regardless, they flourished at The Other Tent, milking the proggier, jammier elements of their indie-rock-with-chops style. There’s as much Led Zeppelin and Yes influence in the Denim’s mix as there is Pavement, and they deliver it with a nonstop barrage of interludes and psychedelic freak-outs. That said, I would have loved to hear more proper songs and fewer extended garage-psych jam stretches.

I wrapped my night with what must have been the best attended performance thus far: Alabama Shakes in This Tent. With even the media area packed to capacity, I spent most of the set swilling booze and contemplating just what a perfect rock anomaly the Shakes are. It’s just Deep Southern soul crossed with grunge-inflected indie rock, but something between Brittany Howard’s accessible lyrics and the band's quiet-loud-quiet dynamics strikes a chord with listeners of all stripes. I mean, here are some Alabama kids who buzz around Edgefield and The Bomb Shelter in Nashville, still getting used to technically being adults, having played their first out-of-town gig little more than a year ago, and now, because of their unapologetic sincerity and sleeve-worn soul and rock ‘n’ roll influences, people dig it. For all the right reasons. Some of the down-tempo, balladic numbers toward set's end seemed to lose the crowd only slightly, but you're going to get that with a festival crowd.

Well, between Seth Graves' new pet crawfish (sorry I ate about a dozen of your cousins last night, Crusty) and all the food and booze we're about to pack into our collective gullyworks, you'll soon have plenty of hi-jinx to read about and pictures to peruse. Wish me luck, I'm off into the fray once more.

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