The Bonnaroo season has quickly arrived and with that it brings us many good things – headliners of Phish, Radiohead and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
All ‘Roonies know one of the most beautiful aspects of this festival is the overall magnitude of the lineup. With that in mind, Bonnaroo always pleases. Going into my 11th festival, breaking down a Top 10 is a difficult task, but here are some of my top choices for this year.
Black Star Mos Def and Talib Kweli are reunited for their first ‘Roo appearance. The hip-hop duo released the single, “Fix Up,” last year with Mos Def operating under the new name Yasiin Bey. Performing with a late night slot, this will prove to be another rap show to not miss.
The Word Another late night show, The Word is composed of North Mississippi Allstars along with Robert Randolph and John Medeski. A fusion of blues, gospel and rock ‘n roll, this will make their return to Bonnaroo since their appearance in 2005.
Alice Cooper At 64 years young, Alice Cooper may have a new fan base on his hands when he hits the farm in Manchester next week. But that doesn’t plan to hold him back as he recently told Rolling Stone magazine that he had intentions of “killing the audience” with a surprise for anyone in the first few rows of his late night show.
Alabama Shakes It seems everywhere you turn lately, whether it be the pages of Garden & Gun or American Songwriter magazines or a concert bill for Jack White, the Alabama Shakes have been mentioned.
Superjam with ?uestlove Quest is back with The Roots this year and they last time he led a Superjam it was with Ben Harper and John Paul Jones where they broke out Led Zeppelin tunes all night. Not sure what’s in store for this one so get ready.
Darondo & Charles Bradley I’m packaging this as the soul revue of the festival. Bradley is one cat who gives you all he has and is very appreciative of each fan’s attendance. While if you’re wondering about Darondo, check out some of his standards on YouTube.
The Avett Brothers Despite their popularity in recent years, these guys remain humble and still crank out some of the most honest and emotional lyrics than anyone else on the block. With a new album due out soon, expect some super-charged roots music like no other.
Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk/Big Freedia When it comes to NOLA, you can’t go wrong. Bonnaroo has always held true to these artists whether it be Dr. John or Galactic. Expect a party like no other.
Danzig Legacy This will be a mix of three sets covering Glenn Danzig’s solo work, The Misfits and Samhain.
Gary Clark Jr. Mr. Clark has been making a name for himself since his performance last year with some blistering, sweaty blues tunes of late. Jumping from a small show to the What Stage could be one of the biggest jumps Bonnaroo has seen in less than a year.
When I was asked to make a list of the top 10 acts I wanted to see at Bonnaroo this year, I thought it was a great idea.
It wasn’t until I started delving deep into the persuasive corners of my mind that I realized narrowing down all the great acts to just 10 was worse than pulling teeth, but I’ll give it my best try.
Bon Iver Having seen Vernon and company twice before, I can honestly say both sets wound up being in my top three performances in their according years.
The latest lineup and stage presence is something to be seen. There is an intimacy here that is not often felt in today’s shows. It definitely won’t be one to miss, although their competition on the schedule is pretty fierce and is my least favorite of the whole weekend.
Alabama Shakes & Glossary There aren’t many true rock ‘n’ rollers at the festival this year, so savor the few that you do have. It just so turns out that my two favorites are slated at the same time.
The Shakes are pretty new on the scene, but very good to say the least. I can’t pinpoint what genre to which they belong, but it certainly isn’t this one. Front woman Brittany Howard’s soulful cries will draw you in and leave you wanting more.
On the other hand we have my hometown heroes. One listen to Glossary and there is no doubt you’re in the South.
These guys are going to deliver some hard driving melodies with a foot stomping down home feel. Either one of these acts (or both) should be a mighty fine way to cap off the first evening.
Robert Francis As much as I despise television, every once in a blue moon I’ll turn it on and find something that catches my attention.
I was lucky enough to spot Robert Francis on a late night television show and have been hooked ever since. Francis is a rare bird and one to be seen at that. Full feathered, this weekend he is my favorite songwriter in Manchester, Tenn.
tUnE-yArDs Fell in love with the solo project of Merrill Garbus after seeing a youtube video of her performing live a long time ago.
Pretty much a one-woman show, Merrill is going to leave you banging on every trashcan you pass inside Centeroo.
Although this show would have been much better at night with glow sticks, the energy will remain present.
Mogwai Simply put, if I could make music with any artist at the festival this year, it’d be these guys.
All the way from sunny Scotland, this band delivers some spaced out, half-timed gems. Yes, the music is served up slower than molasses, but the molasses is sweet my friends. Feel free to doze in the shade of a solo oak and rest those aching bones.
Fitz and the Tantrums An honest hybrid of the golden oldies and modern pop, Fitz and the Tantrums is just plain get up and dance music.
Grouplove I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is going to be the single most fun show all weekend. Easy to sing along with, this set should be full of energy, color, and crowd surfing. Oh yeah, don’t forget to bring some face paint.
Dawes Honestly, just really good tunes. Robbie Robertson paid it forward by making them his backing band. So in a sense, they are carrying the torch, so to speak.
Still not convinced?
They sold more records that any other artist at Bonnaroo two years ago and they weren’t even playing a main stage or tent. I have seen them a few times and met them once. Really great guys and even better musicians/songwriters. Definitely make this stop and then check out The Avett Brothers.
Phantogram Guy/girl duo who make electronic pop music for the masses. Awesome melodies will make this show an extremely bright way to start off the weekend.
Big Freedia Two words: party time. This could possibly get out of hand pretty quickly, as the bounce music is not for everyone.
Bring your dancin’ shoes because, although the set is only 45 minutes, she is going to have you dancing for much, much longer.