Bonnaroo is a four-day music festival held in Manchester, TN that has been ongoing since 2002. What started as a jam festival on a 700-acre farm in Tennessee, Bonnaroo has transformed into a beast many from that first year wouldn’t recognize. Notable acts over the past 17 years have included Paul McCartney, The Beastie Boys, U2, My Morning Jacket, Stevie Wonder, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Dead & Company, Nine Inch Nails, The White Stripes, and so much more. Boasting over 130 acts on 10+ stages, various barns throughout the campgrounds featuring anything from yoga, late-night karaoke, jam sessions, cinema, ambient chill-out zones, comedy, parades, mouth-watering food and surprises all weekend, Bonnaroo is more than a music festival--it’s a full-blown experience. Bonnaroo is one of the largest camping festivals with most attendees camping on the farm. You won’t find this level of care and curation at any other festival of this size. Due to it being on a farm far enough away from anybody to bother, music can, and does, go all night. Some sets won’t start until 2 AM and then after that, expect surprise DJ sets on the Kalliope Stage, a traveling stage that has been to Burning Man as well as Bonnaroo. I truly believe that everybody should experience Bonnaroo once in their lives. It’s not just the music, it’s not just the experiences, it’s the people. Everybody there is just as excited as you are to be there and you'll see high-fives, smiles, dancing and community from everybody you see. It’s transformative, it’s refreshing, and in today’s world, it’s essential.
Check out our Friday preview:
Here's what I'm most excited to see Saturday:
Pond: A psychedelic rock group from Perth, Australia, Pond is going to bring the grooves and jams with them early to the farm. They are a 4 piece who shares members with Tame Impala’s live band, and also have Kevin Parker himself producing their records. Pond combine far out tunes with more focused rock to create something truly unique. Where: This Tent When: 2:45-3:45 PM
Knox Fortune: Chicago singer and producer Knox Fortune got his start producing for hip-hop artists like Vic Mensa and Joey Purp but truly got recognition with his Grammy-winning feature on Chance The Rapper’s “All Night." With his debut record out last year, Knox Fortune shows no signs of slowing down. He self-describes his style as “a cross between The Beach Boys and Beastie Boys” and he couldn’t have described it better. Where: That Tent When: 3:00-4:00 PM
Kali Uchis: Kali is a singer, songwriter, producer, director, designer, and more. She released her debut Por Vida in 2015, which was her first attempt at singing. She came into her own quickly on features with Tyler The Creator and Gorillaz. Now with 2018’s Isolation, she returns the favor with features on her album from Tyler and Gorillaz’ Damon Albarn. Genre-defying and dreamy, Kali will be a perfect mid-afternoon set. Check out our review for Isolation! Where: That Tent When: 5:45-6:45 PM
Chic Featuring Nile Rogers: A legendary group that you would be a fool to miss, Chic is about to bring down the house with their disco defining hits. Funky stylish grooves that never needed the overproduction of their competitors, Chic is a can’t miss for hopefully everybody at Bonnaroo. I feel bad for the artists playing the same time as them. Featured member and producer Nile Rogers has more than 200 production credits to his name and his years of experience are going to bring something special to everyone who is there to see. Where: What Stage When: 6:45-7:45 PM
Sylvan Esso: Sylvan Esso is an electronic pop duo that is comprised of singer Amelia Meath (Mountain Man) and Nick Sanborn (Make of Oak, Megafaun). Their bio on Spotify is short and sweet: they “make pop songs about complicated feelings.” Their music is filled with infectious melodies, big production, and songs that shine bright. Sylvan Esso is a group that you should see if you want to leave a show feeling light and elated. Where: That Tent When: 7:45-8:45 PM
Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals: Critically acclaimed artist, singer, drummer, producer, rapper, and frontman Anderson .Paak is blowing up fast. In 4 short years, he’s quickly winning the world over with his infectious music that flows from genre to genre while creating an inarguably fun live show. Touted by Rolling Stone as “one of the most amazing vocalists in R&B,” nobody does it like .Paak, or makes it look cooler.
Where: What Stage When: 8:45-9:45 PM
Bon Iver: Playing two unique sets in one night, nobody really knows what to expect from Justin Vernon Saturday night. Will he play his debut For Emma, Forever Ago in full for one, or his newest 22, A Million? Will one be an all acoustic set and the other bring out a myriad of guest stars to have his own unique superjam? No matter what he does, I’ll be there for both sets to see the magic unfold. Bon Iver was at the forefront of the indie folk movement of the late 2000’s and with his newest electronic glitchy folk album, he shows he will be at the forefront of the next movement as well. With haunting emotional vocals backed by sometimes lush soundscapes, sometimes fully acoustic, sometimes glitchy electronic sounds, Bon Iver is truly unique and is a do not miss for Bonnaroo. Where: Which Stage When: Set 1: 9:45-10:45 PM Set 2: 12:55-1:55 PM