Bonnaroo 2016: Who to see, avoid and discover

The Bonnaroo lineup for 2016 was announced last week. Overall, the lineup was slightly lacking in comparison to past years, but it still pulled through and gives all kinds of music fans something to look forward to. The beauty of Bonnaroo lies in its ever-evolving selection of artists ranging from alternative rockers with radio hits down to obscure up-and-comers.

This year is no different. Here is the breakdown of who you should see, who you should avoid and who you need to start paying attention to before you get to “The Farm.”


LCD Soundsystem

This one is at the top of the list for very obvious reasons. Since LCD Soundsystem’s breakup in 2011, they’ve only left fans begging for more. The band is most well-known for dance hits such as “Dance Yrself Clean” and “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House,” and emotional rock/electronica pieces like “All My Friends” and “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.” James Murphy and the rest of the gang are now back for another album and a headlining tour, luckily making a stop right here in Tennessee amongst a hefty bill of other festivals. This is a show where you won’t be able to stop yourself from dancing.


Father John Misty

Father John Misty made his way to the top in 2015, making headlines for his magnificent sophomore album and even being featured in Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. He released I Love You, Honeybear in the beginning of last year and it ranked high on almost every music blog’s album of the year lists. The former Fleet Foxes drummer made a nearly perfect album; it’s sarcastic and witty commentary on American culture next to sweet love songs about shared misanthropy. This is one of the most buzzed about artists of the moment, and his melancholy, dramatic tunes will sound even better live.

Big Grams

In case you missed Outkast’s reunion tour two years ago, here is your chance to see 1/2 of the groundbreaking Southern rap group — with a little twist. Big Boi paired up with electronic ambient duo Phantogram last year and released a self-titled album under the name “Big Grams.” It featured Run the Jewels and Skrillex and received rave reviews from the internet. It features the unmistakably unique rap style of Big Boi on top of intensely awesome beats and catchy harmonies. This may be your one and only chance to see this duo (eh, trio) of artists playing live together. Not to mention, it’s likely to be high-energy and one of the most fun shows you’ll have the opportunity of seeing.

Vince Staples

Vince Staples is the new frontier of West Coast hip-hop. For the uninitiated, Staples has a close friendship with Odd Future, toured alongside Schoolboy Q and Earl Sweatshirt and even had a mixtape produced by Mac Miller. He released his debut album Summertime ’06 last year and has received nothing but positive recognition. The album is heavy and full of bangers. It’s safe to say you need to catch him before he’s so big you can’t afford the tickets. This show is top of the list of hip-hop artists at Bonnaroo, and it’s bound to be one of the most hype sets of the weekend.

Are You Kidding Me?


Halsey is the epitome of Tumblr culture and the decline of quality pop music. Her album BADLANDS contributes nothing new to popular music, especially in comparison with albums such as Emotion from Carly Rae Jepsen released in the same year. Her lyrical content is frankly boring, and the line “high on legal marijuana, raised on Biggie and Nirvana” makes me sick because it reinforces some of the awful stereotypes millennials have garnered recently. On top of that, because there are so many other artists at Bonnaroo this year, Halsey is going to come second place to any and every act playing at the same time slot. You’re not going to feel too bad if you miss this show.

The Chainsmokers

This band is arguably the worst product of the crossover between EDM and mainstream pop that surged in recent music history. Much like their song “#SELFIE,” these guys seem to only make music for the “likes.” They’re unoriginal, with auto-tuned soprano vocals over basic dubstep beats. They sound like every electronica artist pre-2010, but it’s even worse because they’re a few years late to the game. When it comes down to it, their music lacks substance. Make sure to bring earplugs in case you pass by this show on your way to someone’s set.

Third Eye Blind

There isn’t much to be said about Third Eye Blind, except that they should have stayed in the late ’90s/early 2000s where they belong. I’ve never been a fan of post-grunge, but this band takes that awful brand of rock to another level. It’s not enjoyable to listen to, minus a couple of radio hits, and I’m honestly confused why they just put out another album. Third Eye Blind should remain on dead iPods in drawers across America and make the occasional appearance on butt rock radio stations for the few people that should choose to listen to them.

Artists You May Not Know, But Definitely Should


For fans of Courtney Barnett, Girlpool, Mitski, Sharon Van Etten and other soft-spoken female independent artists, this is someone you should become familiar with. Waxahatchee released her third album, Ivy Tripp, last year. It is emotional and poignant, yet still fun, with cool drum machine sounds and a sprinkling of synth here and there. Waxahatchee as an artist is graceful and elegant. Check out cuts like “Swan Dive” and “Breathless” for a taste of what she’s all about. Even though she’s in the smaller print section of the lineup, her big voice and spritely tunes make her someone you won’t want to miss.

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is someone you need to get to know because their show is going to be nothing short of amazing. They make fuzzy, psychedelic surf rock with elements of grunge. It’s super punk rock; one of my personal favorite bands. For fans of Wampire, Ty Segall and Mac Demarco, this one is a must-see. If you like mosh pits and catchy rock music, this is the band for you. Listen to anything from Wild Onion and prepare to get rowdy at their Bonnaroo set. Click here to read our 2014 interview with the band.

The Oh Hellos

The Oh Hellos is a sibling duo from Texas that makes beautiful folk tunes. Their debut release in 2012, Through the Deep, Dark Valley, put them on the forefront of underground indie acoustic. For people that like Noah Gunderson and The Head and The Heart, this band is one you will no doubt enjoy. Slightly sad and haunting, their banjo-driven sound will make for a perfect intimate show at a small stage on “The Farm.” Check out “Hello My Old Heart” and “This Will End” and get familiarized with them before June.

Follow Olivia Ladd on Twitter at @LivSlaton.

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