Bonnaroo: LCD Soundsystem exhilarates at annual Tennessee music festival
Plus Hayley Williams joins CHVRCHES, Halsey joins The Chainsmokers, and Bob Moses makes a strong debut
By now, everyone knows LCD Soundsystem is back — and almost definitely coming to a town near you this summer. They’ve already played sets at Webster Hall in New York City and headlined Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California and Primavera Sound in Barcelona, so some of the initial thrill of seeing them had dulled ahead of their Friday night slot at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
That excitement returned, in full and then some, as thousands started gathering in front of the main stage an hour before their 11 p.m. set time. Coachella may not have been the crowd for the dance-punk pioneers, but it turns out Manchester, Tennessee is. The group kept a similar setlist to their other outings this year, showering fans with hit after hit: “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” “I Can Change,” “Get Innocuous!,” and an insanely loud sing-along to “Someone Great.”
Frontman James Murphy remains a quiet host between tunes, but early on in the set he thanked the festival and crowd for the slot. “We’re really happy to play for you guys,” he told the sea of 80,000 dance-ready festival goers in front of him. “You guys seem to be in a good mood.” And he was right. The crowd, from front to back, was hanging on every note — jumping, dancing, and singing along.
As they have elsewhere in 2016, the show ended with a one-three punch of “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down,” “Dance Yrself Clean,” and “All My Friends,” but it’s not felt more appropriate, or profound, this year than it did here, at a festival whose entire ethos is all about community. Pockets of revelers, some who arrived together, others who certainly met in the campsite, joined hands or wrapped their arms around each other to sing along.
Elsewhere on Friday…
New York by way of South Africa synth poppers St. Lucia had the honor of being the first festival act to get people dancing in the near-100-degree temps, as they took over the outdoor What Stage at 4:15 p.m. They leaned heavily on their excellent sophomore LP, Matter during their hour-long set, and while that album’s lead single “Dancing On Glass” gets an enormous reaction, nothing beats the eruption that set-closer “Elevate” receives.
If there is a band that is completely and perfectly suited to the sunset slot time at festivals, it’s Glasglow-based synth-poppers CHVRCHES. And, luckily for fest goers everywhere, with two killer albums tucked under their belts, they have those sets on lock this season. They took over Bonnaroo’s main stage in the slanting light for a propulsive set. Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry bleeds charisma, letting herself go completely during “Never Ending Circles” and “Leave a Trace,” both off 2015’s Every Eye Open — and the crowd responds in twirling, jumping, singing-along kind. But the set’s highlight came when the group welcomed Hayley Williams of Paramore to the stage. They performed their brand new collaboration, “Bury It,” and for a song that was all of 20 hours old, it felt like fans knew every word.
Have you ever tried getting under the tent of a Chainsmokers festival set? A current of people suck you in — and like that time when you were five and got caught in the undertow on family vacation, the panic that grips you is immediate. Luckily, here, when you get dropped off, it’s in a pack of revelers who greet you with big smiles and enthusiastic dance moves. The DJ duo of Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall threw down the biggest rave of the weekend, and it really popped off when Halsey, who had thrown her own dance party, showed up to perform her new song with the DJs, “Closer.”
J. Cole‘s set was going just fine, and the 2014 Forest Hills Drive numbers drew a huge response from the crowd who, with the sun finally receding from its unbearable height, was finally moving. But when Chance the Rapper came out to perform his hit “No Problem,” and like he does with every guest appearance, the Chicago rapper stole the show.
Do you know who Bob Moses is? The band that plays dance music (see above recap for LCD Soundsystem to know its possible) drew a fairly small crowd — though they were up against the end of The Chainsmokers, Zeds Dead, and Blood Orange — but they were an excellent late-night act. They played mostly from their 2015-released, debut LP Days Gone By, and by the end it seemed like everyone realized how lucky they were to be able to get close to this band, because certainly that will only get harder to do as, well, the days go by.