The first shows on the first day of Bonnaroo are typically not full houses. Many fans are still arriving and setting up camp when the first acts take the stage around 3:00. But this year, Nashville’s own The Wild Feathers proved that a band with sufficient momentum can overflow a tent even as a Thursday opener. We spoke to Ben Dumas and Preston Wimberly backstage before their performance to get their thoughts on playing Bonnaroo.
The band could tell the show was going to be high energy from the start. Says Wimberly, “It’s a hot crowd. We just finished doing soundcheck and there were already people lining up and making noise for us.”
That was definitely the case as, by the time The Wild Feathers took the stage, the crowd was overflowing the tent and spilling well into the grass. The band seemed to feed off the energy of the crowd and the atmosphere of Bonnaroo. Dumas spoke of that before the show, saying “It definitely means a lot to us. This is right in our backyard. It’s almost like a home town show in a way, but a world renowned home town show!”
The Wild Feathers’ nearly hour long set was tailored to keep a festival audience on their toes, with one guitar driven song to another. Four of the five members of the band were lead singers in other groups and they put this to good use on stage. It isn’t even fair to say The Wild Feathers trade off lead vocals because it’s rare to hear only one person singing. Speaking of the group’s vocal dynamic, Dumas said “It really makes everything a lot easier for us. No one has to carry the whole load, you can share it. We all respect each other and everybody has their part.
The group has always shunned genre labels. Wimberly spoke of their philosophy to us, saying “genre is just a word invented for marketing purposes. That’s not how we think. Rock and roll is an attitude, not a genre. We make music and live our lives with a rock and roll attitude. If we want to play some country sounding stuff, we will. If we want to be loud and rock as hard as we want to, we will. Genre is for someone else to think about.”
If the massive crowd opening up Bonnaroo is any indicator, you can expect to see The Wild Feathers playing increasingly bigger festival stages in the future. They already have an impressive lineup of festivals the rest of the year, including Firefly, Summerfest, and Australia’s Splendor in the Grass.