Iowa-based singer-songwriter Lissie helped kick things off at Bonnaroo on Thursday evening, playing the That Tent to a crowd of eager and anxious festivalgoers.
As the sun began to set, the crowd, dressed in swimsuits, bucket hats, flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts, made their way to the show. With a four-piece band backing her, Lissie came out dressed in all white and the show began with the song “Castles.” Opting for just a mic in her hands during the opener, Lissie belted the song out, smiling and dancing, trying to kickstart the crowd.
The stage featured a giant LCD Monitor behind the band that boasted water-like visuals inspired by the Castles album artwork, smoke machines, stage lights, and a big picture frame to the left side of the stage, with “Lissie” written in chalk on the blackboard.
The majority of the set featured songs from her most recent album, Castles, meaning that there were electronic backtracks for a fair portion of the performance. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that in this instance the live performance didn’t necessarily benefit from the 808’s and synthesizers. The band did well enough on its own with an actual drummer, a keyboard player and a lead guitarist, whose sound was clean with light reverb. Highlights from the show included songs such as “Love Blows,” “Feels Good” and “Best Days.”
What really stood out to me as a crowd pleaser were the sections in several songs where the lead guitarist was allowed to let loose and crush some solos, energizing the audience with the jolt that they needed to get through the set of country slow-songs and ballads.
Lissie’s performance was good, no doubt about it. Whether it was because everyone was ready to eat, needing a rest from the first day out in the Tennessee heat, or still a bit apprehensive due to this being the first day of Roo, the crowd required a shot in the arm, and Lissie delivered beautifully.