This is the first year the local band has played at one of the most well-attended music festivals.
Lead singer Corey Frye donned a throwback Isaiah Thomas jersey for the occasion and greeted the hometown crowd warmly.
“It’s good to see so many familiar faces. B-town representing at Bonnaroo!”
Song breaks were littered with “Hoosiers” chants, and the crowd wore everything from Pacers jerseys to Kilroy’s tanks.
The Squeeze opened to a modest crowd, one that enjoyed some groovier jams like “Mama Told Me.”
Frye said the early set caused them to tweak their performance.
“It’s tough,” he said. “It’s so different in the morning, so we didn’t want to do too much. We wanted to cater to a more feel-good, chill sound.”
The group was able to score the gig at the Miller Lite Great Taste Lounge through a connection of a couple of members.
After sending in their recent debut album, they were given the go-ahead in the time slot.
As the set drew longer, the crowd grew larger. Passing foot traffic stopped walking and started dancing as the group cranked out a 50-minute set.
By the time it ended, it looked more like the Bluebird than Bonnaroo.
“It was awesome,” drummer Reuben Gingrich said. ‘
“The crowd was small, but we built it up until the crowd was huge. I couldn’t see past the sides, but that’s always a good thing.”
The group pulled off the set without bassist Willie Robinson, who was away from the band with a prior commitment.
In his place, Olas Ortwein filled in seamlessly.
Aaron Burkhart, a Bloomington native and IU masters student, had seen the band once before in passing but made a point to come to their set during his Bonnaroo trip.
He moved his feet during the set and left with an album in hand.
Burkhart complimented the counterpoint solos of guitarist Max Newman and keyboardist Ben “Smiley” Silverstein during the end of the set.
He also said the Squeeze was one of the best shows he had seen at the festival.
After the show, Burkhart was one of many people to approach the band with praise and congratulations.
As Frye shook the hand of another appreciative fan (“We just loved it!” she said), he made sure to comment again about the home connection.
“It’s just so great seeing B-town represented, all the way down here,” he said. “That’s half the battle, and it feels like home.”
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