Photo courtesy of Redbull.com
Story by Evan Dunne / Assistant Lifestyles Editor
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival’s initial 2017 lineup announcement was met with mixed responses, as the festival seemingly traded a great deal of its jam band roots and “hippie culture” for a wealth of pop confection. Bonnaroo recently released its daily lineup, which begs the question: What shows should I try to catch each day?
Many Bonnaroovians argue that the magic of attending Bonnaroo — and music festivals in general — can be found in the discovery of a new artist or group. While we all have our favorites that we’re itching to see perform, festival-goers typically acknowledge the sensation of seeing an artist with whose music they are unfamiliar. These are the kinds of shows where we walk in as strangers and walk out as fans.
Below are some show suggestions that you may want to check out if you find yourself on the Farm this June:
Thursday’s lineup doesn’t boast any tremendously popular superstars. Young, blooming talent is sprinkled throughout instead, making it an ideal evening for musical discovery.
Hip-hop fans should snag a spot to see Innanet James, a Maryland rapper whose youthful demeanor seeps into songs that scream “summer.” Hopefully, the energy expressed on his debut project “Quebec Place” will carry over to the energy he exerts on stage.
EDM heads have a wide variety of electronic music from which to pick and choose. Martin Vogt, better known by his stage name Haywyre, creates melodic bangers. Vogt also performs his material live on a synthesizer, a dwindling talent in a sea of electronic music that’s heavily dominated by trap and electro house. Atlanta producer Herobust, or Hayden Kramer, may be another strong electronic performance. The bass quaking beneath his trap-flavored tunes is loud enough to rouse a deaf man from a coma.
Followers of rock ‘n’ roll may potentially find themselves at Thursday’s standout show: The Lemon Twigs. The New York natives play glammy, psychedelic songs reminiscent of 1970s pop-rock. The duo’s music sounds far more experimental than what most would expect from two brothers, neither of whom have reached legal drinking age. Michael and Brian D’Addario’s frequent tradeoff of instrumental duties is sure to make this performance worth a listen.
Friday hosts many musical superstars, but plenty of lesser-known performers will keep you entertained until the time comes for Major Lazer or U2 to take their spots on stage.
Psychedelic fans should set aside time in their schedule to see Texas trio Khruangbin. The group draws its style from Thai funk outfits of the 1960s, but its sound is unusual and colorful. On the opposite side of the psych spectrum from rock or funk is Barclay Crenshaw. The DJ produces and performs a mind-tickling mix of electronic and instrumental hip-hop.
Virginia indie-rock band Car Seat Headrest is certain to satisfy any rockers looking forward to performances from the likes of Portugal. The Man or Cage the Elephant. Created as a solo endeavor by guitarist and lead vocalist Will Toledo, Car Seat Headrest will likely play a set comprised primarily of material from their 2016 LP “Teens of Denial.” The songs are infectious and exuberant, and attendees ought to prepare for a substantial amount of angst-fueled head banging.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band will unquestionably deliver one of the stronger Friday performances, sending show-goers to the bustling streets of 1960s New Orleans with their soulful swing. Based out of New Orleans’ historic Preservation Hall, only the most skilled Louisiana-style jazz musicians earn a place in the band. They have previously collaborated with My Morning Jacket and Foo Fighters, proving that these boogie aficionados are also capable of hanging with rockstars.
Pop fans looking for something a bit unlike what you hear on the radio should save a spot for Future Islands. The Baltimore band plays upbeat tunes with just the right balance of 1980s synthpop and modern indie-rock. The band’s live performance of “Seasons” on Letterman in 2014 went down as one of the most abnormal, yet incredible, performances from the many bands that have graced the show.
New Jersey band The Front Bottoms is another unique and exciting group of musicians on the lineup. The majority of the band’s music is a blend of acoustic, dance and emo. The Front Bottoms moodiness and “mom and dad just don’t understand me” attitude will likely trigger feelings of nostalgia in fans of punk-pop music of the late 90s and early 2000s.
As Bonnaroo is the most prominent music festival in the South, it’s only proper that festival-goers check out some good ol’ southern rock. The son of outlaw country legend Willie Nelson heads Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real. Promise of the Real has previously performed with rock icon Neil Young, and the combination of talents is sure to make some feet stomp.
Like Thursday, Sunday’s lineup is a bit sparse. It hosts more pop and rap superstars, and thus, it hosts less hidden gems. The most unusual Sunday selection is Israeli dubstep producer Asaf Borger, well known by his stage name Borgore. An artist with such aggressive and abrasive electronic music seems out of place on the last day of the festival.
On the more chill side of the spectrum is Fatimah Warner, a female emcee from Chicago who performs under the moniker Noname. Noname’s songs are supported by jazzy pianos and shuffling drums, reminiscent of early 90s hip-hop. The gal is also insanely talented behind a microphone, with flow and control that could match or exceed many popular rappers. Noname’s laid-back style is ideal for a Sunday slot.
Finally, Canadian jazz and hip-hop group BadBadNotGood will perform on Sunday. The four young men are known for energetic sets with plenty of saxophone and piano improvisation. The band is also notorious for playing jazzy renditions of well-known rap songs from the likes of Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame. BadBadNotGood will likely stand out as one of the most unique performances of the entire festival.
What artists are you looking forward to seeing at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival this summer?