Whether the Bonnaroo Music Festival is a foreseeable part of your future, or if you’re planning to live vicariously through the photos and crappy camera-phone videos posted on Facebook and Twitter, this year’s line-up is something to be excited about. Sure, the big names are amazing: Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White, and Lionel Richie are more than enough for an avid music fan to be satisfied. But, some of the smaller acts, those are names to be just as excited about!
If you’re going to the festival (tickets go on sale February 22nd!), put these artists on your list to watch! If you can’t make the trip to Tennessee, check out these under-the-radar festival favorites, stick them on a playlist, and pretend you’re at Bonnaroo (it’s almost as fun…almost.)
- Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper is one of the guys that brought me over to the rap side. I’m new to listening to rap and hip hop music and always looking for recommendations. A friend suggested Chance and this song made me dance so much that I couldn’t stop listening and haven’t since (plus, Childish Gambino kills it in his verse; they’re such a great combo.) Chance’s album Acid Rap is a lot of fun and his lyrics are smart (and he’s one of those cherished believers of free music, so you can download the album here!!!) When you’re finished dancing, sit down and listen to the puns, you’ll laugh and shake your head in agreement, I promise. Chance’s set is going to be something you won’t want to miss, expect rowdiness and tons of fun.
- Ben Howard
My love for Ben Howard knows no bounds. I’ve already posted an Unsung Article boasting of his thoughtful lyrics and quiet but powerful stage presence. He’s sure to provide a chill set that will allow some time for unwinding and awing in the presence of a great singer/songwriter.
- First Aid Kit
This folk duo is a powerhouse of well-timed harmonies, a sweet old-timey sound, and two awesome front ladies full of hippie flair. Expect too many flower crowns, maxi skirts, and a lot of necessary foot-stomping. These girls are on the rise!
You probably know who Zedd is. He’s the bright, young star of the EDM world with hits like “Stay the Night” and “Clarity” still controlling radio-play. Zedd’s show is bound to be energetic with his Top 40 name. Expect a rave-like atmosphere during his set. A lot of crowd surfing, some random glow-sticks, and tons of flashy backdrops and dance-y beats.
- Jake Bugg
Another “young folk” folk-star, Jake Bugg is blowing up the charts overseas. He’s won the hearts of many Americans too, with his simple melodies and mature lyrics. He’s 19 and has the soul of Bob Dylann; enough said. Jake Bugg is sure to provide a set full of head-bobs and slight swaying. Some lighters will find their way out of pockets to create that nostalgic notion of flame-in-the-wind to signal a touching tune. Between Bugg’s music and Bonnaroo’s setting, you’ll be feeling like you’ve been transported to the 60’s.
- Valerie June
The best part of music festivals? Discovering new-to-you music that becomes a fast-favorite. Valerie June is going to be “that” artist for many Bonnaroo-ers. With a unique blues/country/folk blend, Valerie June is a smart and fresh songstress. She pulls up the roots of many musical traditions to craft songs that sound like nothing you’ve heard before. Let the music do the talking and check her out; you’ll be perplexed and clicking to listen to her next song in no time.
I recently had the opportunity to see Phosphorescent live. They have a low-key, southern vibe that’s charming and easy to love. “Song for Zula” is an instant crowd-pleaser with an epic tone and careful lyrics. Phosphorescent is definitely a band to watch for. Expect even more chill head-nodding.
- The Head and the Heart
If you haven’t heard of The Head and the Heart stop what you’re doing and listen! Their sophomore album is amazing, their debut album was phenomenal, and they’ve been gaining love from the folk-obsessed for awhile now. Sure to be a festival-favorite with their summer hits and Americana sound, make sure they’re on your “to-listen” list! Expect some dancing, probably in a “swing your partner round and round” manner and lots of clapping to the beat.
Another band you won’t want to miss. This one incorporates a lovely brass section to add robust sound to back full, deep vocals. Typhoon is made of 11 members and each one brings a unique sound and vocal styling to the band’s infectious songs. More foot-stomping and good times to be had by all!
- Taran Killam
I could have added James Blake or City and Colour or Amos Lee or Janelle Monáe or any number of the other wonderful artists set to grace Bonnaroo’s stage but I had to go for Killam. Bonnaroo is not just a place for music but a haven for comedy and art of all forms. Take a break from the music crowds and hop on over to the comedy tent to be entertained by one of SNL’s brightest stars.Are you going to the Bonnaroo Music Festival? Who are you going to be seeing?! Let us know in the comments section :)