Monday, May 28, 2012

Bonnaroo: Why Would You Even Want to Escape It?

So Kevin decided to go ahead and write a post about what he recommends I go see at Bonnaroo, which has prompted not only me responding to his suggestions, but also to go through a few pre-weekend thoughts as I prepare for my 7th consecutive year at the festival.  As always, I’m very much open to suggestions from others as invariably there is no way I will know every band or artist playing and since I have so many friends that like great music, their suggestions are often very good ones.  So if you so happen to be bored enough to be reading these posts and you have any suggestions, please feel free to chime in.  I promise I’ll seriously consider your suggestion.  Unless it is Needtobreathe.  I won’t go see them.


 Wait.  Who are these guys again?  I need more info.

The Beach Boys:

You’re right, Kev.  It is a big deal that Brian Wilson is playing with them again.  Not only that, but it’s big that everyone is together as Al Jardine and Mike Love have toured before by themselves under the Beach Boys name.  I share your hesitancy about their age and ability to pull off a great show.  My hope is that they are too good and too knowledgeable to attempt to tour if they didn’t sound good.  However, all cards on the table, I am not a huge Beach Boys fan.  I only have one album, Pet Sounds, and in all honesty, I can take them or leave them.  I still give them props and respect for what they did and I can admit that they have a ton of catchy hits, but this is not a huge draw for me.  There aren’t any huge conflicts at the beginning, but I can see myself heading out early to catch The Antlers.  But we’ll see.

Bon Iver:

I’m definitely planning on catching at least part of this set.  I’m not very familiar with their first album, but really enjoyed last year’s effort.  However, there are all kinds of conflicts so it will be interesting how this plays out.  It’s actually in the biggest area of conflict for me the whole weekend with sets from Ben Folds, Joy Formidable, Kurt Vile, The Shins, Fun., and The Civil Wars all jammed in together.  I have no idea what’s going to happen.

Avett Brothers:

It’s crazy that they’re playing the main stage and during my first Bonnaroo in 2006, they played one of the smallest tents that probably fit no more than a few hundred people.  Certainly a must see and there are pretty much no conflicts here so I’m planning on catching the whole set.  And yes, Kev, you need to see them too.  They’re playing the Bank of America Pavilion on September 16.  It’s unfortunate that they’ll probably never play a small club again, as my favorite shows of theirs came from those clubs, but they’re still awesome.

The Shins:

I agree that I would have been more amped to see these guys a few years ago, but the draw is still fairly attractive.  I don’t think the absence of the other three original members will be that big of a deal as Mercer is the Shins.  It would be way stranger to see them without him.  But again, this is during a very packed time slot and my decision to see them and for how long will probably be on the spot.

Foster the People:

A definite must see for me.  I loved their debut album last year and think it’s one of the catchiest indie-rock albums to come out in some time.  I doubt I’ll see the whole thing as St. Vincent and Dawes both end their sets at they begin, and right after they play Radiohead goes on, and I don’t plan on missing one second of that show………even though I don’t know who they are.


Unlike Kevin, I was actually not that into her Reminder album.  I was pretty bored by it despite liking a few songs.  But since I’d rather see her than Ludicrous and Trampled by Turtles, I’m betting I’ll catch a decent amount of this set.

The Roots:

Oh man, I love the live shows by the Roots.  And though I’ve seen them play Bonnaroo before, I’ve never seen a full set.  I doubt I will this year as there is a conflict with Mogwai and I’ve never seen them before.  But it looks as though catching at least part of this set would be very doable.  And the Superjam is something they do every year where basically random dudes get together to rock out.  Oftentimes you don’t hear about the full group until shortly before the festival but they’ve already announced Questlove which is cool.  He played this a few years ago with John Paul Jones and Ben Harper and they were good.  Last year Dan Auerbach played with Dr. John.  It’s just one of the unique additions to the Bonnaroo experience.  I might catch some of it this year but will have to sacrifice some of Alice Cooper’s set to do so.  Speaking of which……..

Alice Cooper:

I’d definitely like to catch some of this set just to say that I’ve seen Alice freaking Cooper.  I don’t know much of his stuff but am interested enough to give this a whirl.  And if it’s lame, I can always head over to catch Superjam a little earlier.  But yeah, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by this addition.

Kenny Rogers:

Yeah, I pretty much have no desire to see him.  Maybe if there wasn’t anything else going on but with Bon Iver, Ben Folds Five, Kurt Vile, and Joy Formidable going up against him, there’s probably no chance I’ll see this.  And yes, his new face totally freaks me out.  I’m fairly certain that anytime you have to mention someone’s “new face” there aren’t many other practical reactions one can have.

Black Star:

Thanks to Kevin and Patty, I appreciate Black Star and am excited to see them on Friday night after Radiohead.  There does not appear to be any conflict here for me so I plan on catching the entire set.  Very excited about this one.

Danzig Legacy:

I’m not all that amped for this one as Danzig never did anything for me with the exception of “Mother”.  So unless I happen to be walking by on my way to another set and he just so happens to be playing “Mother”, I doubt I’ll see this.  Especially with Childish Gambino, The Roots, and Mogwai playing around the same time.


Again, I have no desire to see him.  He’s never really done anything for me and there are others I’d like to see around this time.  However, if I am finding Feist to be boring, I just may venture over to see him for something different.  We’ll see.

Ben Folds Five:

I’ve always felt that I should like Ben Folds more than I do, but for some reason I’ve just never been pushed over the edge with him.  I think when he is on, he is really on with some of the most beautiful and catchy songs I’ve ever heard.  But more often than not, I’m left just feeling “Meh” with the majority of his catalogue.  However, I have seen him before and he’s a great performer so I’m sure I’ll check some of this out.  But if I get the itch, I could see myself leaving early for Joy Formidable or Kurt Vile.


I’m not a huge fan or anything, but I’d definitely be interested to check her out.  There do not appear to be many conflicts at this time so I’m sure I’ll catch at least part of it.

Tune Yards:

I’m with you, Kev.  I’m not as into this band as others are, but they are very interesting and I can see them putting on a great show.  And I don’t see any conflicts so I’ll probably catch the whole thing.

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings:

I think I’ve seen them before but only in small doses.  I’d like to catch them again but there is a conflict with Two Door Cinema Club so we’ll have to see how this plays out.

Little Dragon:

Don’t really know them, but it could be interesting.  However, going up right against the Avett Brothers means I will not check this out.

Two Door Cinema Club:

Yeah, I like them and think they will put on a good show.  Going up against Sharon Jones will probably mean splitting my time here.

Fitz and the Tantrums:

See my comments about Little Dragon above.  I could say the same thing about these guys.

Bad Brains:

Not really my bag at all, but there isn’t a whole lot going up against it for me.  So if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll hit up this set for a bit.  But I make no promises.

GZA performing Liquid Swords:

Never even knew this album existed until Kevin made a comment about it a few weeks ago.  I’ve now heard it and liked it a lot so I’m sure I’ll go see this.  The only potential issue would be that it starts at 2:30 am and goes until 4.  This will totally be based on how much energy I have at this moment.  Honestly, I could see it going either way.

The Black Lips:

I’ve heard some of their stuff and I do like it.  But the timing is around some other such artists so I’ll probably hop around here a bit.  I’d also like to check out Kathleen Edwards and Here We Go Magic which conflict.


I saw these guys at Bonnaroo a few years ago and was left a little disappointed.  But maybe that was because it was way too crowded up at the front where I was.  However, there aren’t many conflicts here so I could see myself giving them a second chance.

The Joy Formidable:

I’ve only recently started getting into this band and I really dig them.  I’m going to make it a point to see them for at least a little bit, but I’ve already mentioned a lot of conflicts here.  I’m sure they’ll put on a great show.

Alabama Shakes:

I’ll be certain to catch this set on Thursday when nothing else is going on for me.  I’ve heard some of their songs and I think it’s got a lot of potential to be a great show.

Kurt Vile:

I’m not all that familiar with Vile’s music, but from what I’ve heard I’ve liked.  Again, conflicts abound here but I could see myself heading over to his set for a bit.

Das Racist:

These guys are a little out of my wheelhouse but their set does intrigue me.  They’re going up against Blind Pilot who I’d like to see but I’m not really strong on either one so I’m sure I’ll catch a bit of this set.

Delta Spirit:

Decent band and a perfect time slot at the beginning of the day on Sunday.  I’m sure I’ll hit this one up.


I’ve already mentioned that I’m excited for this one.  Unlike Kevin, I don’t know much of the older stuff, but I did really enjoy their album last year.  I’m a little concerned about watching a mostly instrumental group as I can sometimes get bored by them, but I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this set.

The War on Drugs:

I’m not familiar with this group at all, with the exception of the song Kevin posted on his blog.  But they’re going on against the Beach Boys and Antlers and I’d like to catch both of them for a bit.  This might have to be sacrificed.


Never really heard any of their stuff either, but if they’re “infectious” as Kevin says, I could see that being a big draw.  Obvious conflicts are here (Black Lips, Kathleen Edwards, Here We Go Magic) so I think I’ll just have to plan to jump around a lot.

White Denim:

I’m a little luke-warm on this band but interested enough to check them out on Thursday night, especially since there are no conflicts.


I only recently heard her album and I liked it a lot.  Best part is that she’s playing on Thursday and there are no conflicts so I’m sure I’ll catch the whole set.

Here We Go Magic:

I saw them play Bonnaroo a few years ago and really enjoyed their show.  I’m not all that familiar with their studio stuff, but I might want to check them out again, if only to hear this John Waters story.

St. Vincent:

I’m not the biggest fan of her either, Kev.  But I did miss out on seeing her a few years ago (offhand I don’t remember who I saw instead) but I heard great things about her from my cousins.  While I was excited that she was playing again, I was disappointed to learn that she’s going up right against Dawes, which is pretty much a must-see for me.  I’d like to think I’ll check her out, but I just don’t know how realistic that will be. 

I noticed I mentioned some acts that Kevin did not.  Other groups I’m planning on seeing, or at least interested in seeing, include Phantogram, The Kooks, Dawes, Blind Pilot, Temper Trap, Childish Gambino, Skrillex, Gary Clark, Jr., Kathleen Edwards, The Antlers, fun., The Civil Wars, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Phish.  I don’t want to get into any of them specifically, as I mainly wanted to respond to each of Kevin’s suggestions here, but I thought they’d be worth mentioning. 

I’m pretty excited as the countdown approaches the one week mark.  I think there is a lot of potential this year and I’m particularly excited to see three of my all-time favorite live acts in one weekend (Radiohead, The Avett Brothers, and Phish).  Of all seven years I’ve gone, I’d say this has the strongest headlining acts.  I also think it’s been great having access to Spotify which has helped me listen to artists I’ve never heard of before.

Thanks again for the suggestions, Kevin.  It would rule if you were in attendance this year, but I understand the whole issue with being hot and uncomfortable and all.  I also think it’s funny that you mention certain acts would be good to see while sitting down in the shade.  Dude, there is hardly any shaded areas at Bonnaroo, and if there are any, they are located in jam-packed tents with tons of people in them.  You would basically just have to suck it up.  But there's still time.  Not too late to get your ticket.  Just sayin'.



  1. See this thing is amazing so many great bands and few of the wackiest (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, Dawes). I can't wait for your recap, always awesome.


  2. Oops of course above I meant WACKEST not wackiest

    And I wasn't actually suggesting you see Bad Brains, I just had to acknowledge them. If it was the early 80's, I would say: can't miss! Nowadays, yeah not so much


  3. GZA is performing Liquid Swords in its entirety? ILL


  4. Also, nobody hates older artists more than Kevin. Remember his takedown of Van Halen? And then Def Leppard? AGEISM!