Rodrigo y Gabriela, Sam Roberts Band Get a Whole Lotta Love

Swarms of attendees wandered the weathered Bonnaroo farmlands last night (June 14), looking mostly curious and awed, using the night to get acclimated — hoping to find their musical and activity cup of tea, if you will. If one made the right choice of beverage, they were likely sipping on the zesty shot of tequila and lime known as Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. The set opened to an overflowing tent with an oxymoronic face-melting riff on acoustic guitar, causing the audience to question whether they had come to see the world’s newest and most unlikely indie sensation or a taping of Metallica: Unplugged.

More so than a Spanish villa shred-fest, the duo performed songs evoking Latin instrumental giants like Los Lobos, the instrumental expertise of a first-seat orchestra member, and the repressed energy of a grunge rocker. From hipsters to homely folks, everyone found something in the spark of Rodrigo y Gabriela and their post-modern live craft made it quite clear that Bonnaroo just cannot be boxed in. SAMANTHA PROMISLOFF

While overwhelming throngs of heat-flushed festivalgoers continued to pour into Centeroo last evening, I caught the Sam Roberts Band taking the stage of That Tent for a roaring crowd pleaser that, with any luck, set the tone for the weekend of rock to come. Canadian flags waving and beach balls flying, the band worked the anxious crowd into a near frenzy from the start, opening with the driving jam “The Gate” and inducing such crowd clichés as synchronized clapping, sing alongs and even a daring stage dancer who’s mad dash past security earned him a solid fifteen seconds of fame and a pretty good story to take home. Perhaps best of all, it was clear that the band was having just as much, if not more, fun than anyone. As the set closed with the ten minute epic “Mind Flood, ” it was apparent that we had all just witnessed an indisputably Bonnaroo worthy performance. DANE SMITH


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