Bonnaroo feels like the beginning of summer. The weather's been weird in New York, hot and cold, and so our trip to Tennessee for the iconic back-to-the-garden festival was the start of a season of warm months and many beers. Neon Indian was the first band we saw as we stepped onto the fairgrounds and it was the ideal way to begin, one part dance weirdness and one part hippie love. Leader Alan Paloma was a summer sprite, dancing around on stage—a near mirror of his audience who, covered in glow sticks, tie dye and hula hoops, jumped in step with every song. "Deadbeat Summer" was the anthem.
It's not just big acts at Bonnaroo, though. There's music everywhere, little stages set up to host everything from beat box competitions to stand-up comedy to a Budweiser Troo Music Lounge where audience members can charge their phones while watching about a million acts. But for the later shows, the few giant main stages are the go-to spots. At the mega-stage called That Tent, The Temper Trap and their optimistic sound carried us through sunset. They're a band for positivity, their music belongs in films, soundtracking triumphant plot points and happy endings. The crowd had their fists up posi-core style, and straggling festival goers started lining up.
The XX was next at 11:30, an awfully quiet band to headline a massive crowd riled up by the bands before. When we met Romy from The XX earlier in the day for an interview, it seemed almost a bit improbable that a girl as reserved as she would be headlining an unruly festival. But it worked, the danceability of the band's minimal R&B keeping them up with the hugeness of the stage and an audience that seemed largely unfamiliar with the band. At Bonnaroo, there couldn't be a single thing more important to the audience than dancing.