I’ll be working backstage again at Bonnaroo. It’s my 11th year in a row running the backstage interview studio. I’ve had some great memories over the years and met some amazing musicians. In 2004 we met Marc Broussard, 2005 Brett Dennen, was Brandi Carlile in 2005 as well? That’s kind of a problem. The years and sometimes the bands are hard to tell apart. If I don’t label photos, sometimes I forget which band it was. I may be a genius editing a pro tools session…but the ole memory…well not so much. Looking ahead at this year and my own private backstage bonnaroo is pretty exciting! First of all, it’s the first year that back at Lightning 100 I have an assistant, which means it’s the first year I’m not editing until midnight to get all my production done for the week. I’ve left a lot in the capable hands of Guy Fell, including my interview with John and Lilly Hiatt for this Sunday’s Father’s Day edition of Music Business Radio.
So what am I excited about on the schedule? Just about everything! We have around 40 bands booked. Some big names you’ve heard of like Cage The Elephant, James Blake, Damon Albarn (Blur and The Gorillaz) or Avett Brothers and other bands under the radar like Lake Street Drive, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, and Roadkill Ghost Choir. There are personal favorites like Sarah Jarosz, J Roddy Walston & The Business, Umphrey’s McGee, and Ben Howard. We have some of my favorite Nashville based bands as well like Fly Golden Eagle, Wild Feathers, and The Wood Brothers. There are some names I don’t recognize and every year at least one of them ends up getting added to the radio station. You don’t get booked backstage at bonnaroo if someone doesn’t believe you are worth believing in. Who will it be this year?
I don’t get outside of the trailer much during the day, so I always eye the after dark performances and headliners. I’ll be clear that I was disappointed to see Kanye West make the bill again. He should be banned for all I care. My guess is it’s politics. The bosses are trying to spin it like their behind it but it doesn’t make any sense to me. Any other hip hop act on the planet would have been better. My opinion is out there so let’s move on. Breaking it into days on Thursday it’s starts early with Nashville’s own The Wild Feathers. It’s their Bonnaroo debut and the word is out about these guys. They put on an amazing live show and folks will be talking about it all weekend. Another Nashville act Cherub has been blowing up on the west coast and I’m excited to see them continue their march towards success. White Denim will take the stage at Midnight Thursday and I’m going to try and be there. I really like their music and am excited to see the live show. I should also mention another Nashville band called Bully that will be playing early at 2pm and I’ve heard great things about them. Definitely an under the radar act to check out.
Friday the festival really kicks in. Mid afternoon and there are multiple stages with bands playing at the same time I would like to see. Dr Dog, Sam Smith, The Wood Brothers, Jake Bug, Ben Howard, and Umphrey’s McGee, all play close together. Vampire Weekend and Phoenix are sure to be great live shows. Neutral Milk Hotel is about as rare a show to see as anything and the Superjam is going to be mind blowing as always. Some Nashville acts to squeeze into your schedule on Friday include John and Jacob, Fly Golden Eagle, Blank Range, and Diarrhea Planet.
Saturday we are really in the swing of things! Catch First Aid Kit, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Cake, Drive-By-Truckers, Damon Albarn, Cage The Elephant, John Butler Trio, Cut Copy, Ms. Lauren Hill, and Lionel Richie! Our very own Jack White celebrates the release of his most recent solo album Lazretto with a true headlining slot Sat night. It’s the same one The Dead had in 2004, my very first year at Bonnaroo. It’s 10yrs later and I imagine one thing we’ll have in common with that year is the rain and the mud. Bring those work boots! If Lionel Richie inspires you to stay up All Night Long then you should head to see The Flaming Lips after midnight. I bet Ashley Capps will be there! Skrillex will be getting weird around that same time with an interesting SuperJam of his own that includes Damien Marley, if that’s your scene.
Sunday Funday! You would think things would start winding down but I recommend packing some Red Bulls (dry ice will keep your stuff cool all weekend) and catching all the great music. The trophy on the wall will be catching Sir Elton John. It’s his festival debut and a bucket list artist for many a Bonnaruvian. Saturday night’s alright for fighting but the Yellow Brick Road ends with Elton. I personally think this final day has the best lineup. It is stacked up with bands big and small that make great music. From Carolina Chocolate Drops to The Lone Bellow to Arctic Monkeys. There are seriously over two dozen bands worth your time. It may be the day to take the Bonnaroo shuttle and just get a day pass. Take a look at the schedule yourself and tell me what you think. If your phone works, send me photos on twitter @danbuckley or tag me on instagram @djdanbuckley
Remember, there are a lot more bands I didn’t mention worth seeing like Andrew Bird or anything except Kanye. The festival experience is about being in the moment and taking chances on new music. Wander and discover something new! Whether it is planned or by accident, the new music we find is what truly is worth being excited about.