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Brian Mansfield, Special for USA TODAY 10:26 a.m. EDT June 14, 2013

Bonnaroo begins!

Highlights from the first day of the Tennessee festival.


MANCHESTER, Tenn. — The 12th Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival got underway Thursday afternoon with area thunderstorms threatening to dampen the spirits of 80,000 attendees. "It was really good earlier today, but now I get the strong sense that something is coming," said Tyler Joseph, whose twenty | one | pilots was set to play one of the first sets of this year's festival. The Bonnaroo grounds wound up with just a brief cloudburst, enough to moisten the ground and cool the air, making Thursday one of the most temperate days in Bonnaroo history. While Paul McCartney and Tom Petty will headline subsequent nights, music fans eased into the event with an opening-day lineup that included Japandroids, Alt-J and Allen Stone.

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Capital-izing on the moment. Capital Cities, which recently topped USA TODAY's Alternative airplay chart with its single Safe and Sound and is currently crossing over to Top 40, had one of the latest opening-night sets, beginning at 1 a.m. But with festival-goers fresh, 1 a.m.'s practically a headlining slot. "Everybody's partying," says singer/keyboard Ryan Merchant. "This is the first night of Bonnaroo, so people are gung ho about going crazy tonight." Wearing matching yellow blazers, Merchant, Sebu Simonian and their three backing musicians had the New Music On Tap Lounge audience jumping to a dance-pop set that included not only Safe and Sound but covers of Pink Floyd's Breathe and the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive. "It's about trying to win over the hearts and minds of those that haven't seen you," Merchant says.