A Quick History of Bonnaroo’s Most BLAMtastic Artists
Bonnaroo is set to reveal this summer's lineup tonight with their Bonnaroo Lineup Announcement Megathon, aka BLAM! The event's pre-show will feature The Flaming Lips, Ben Folds and other special guests, as well as clips of artists from Bonnaroos past. We've gathered up some info on all of the artists that will be highlighted in tonight's pre-show Be sure to tune in tonight via Bonnaroo.com or Xbox Live--the pre-show kicks off at 7pm ET and BLAM begins at 9pm ET.
fun. may have been new to Bonnaroo in 2012--when they brought out a horn section for a few songs and wrapped up their show with a stellar cover of The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”--but the band’s ROOts go deeper than that. Lead guitarist Jack Antonoff made a name for himself with his old project Steel Train, who played the festival on a few occasions, including some impromptu busking sets in the campground.
Portugal. The Man
Portugal. The Man are one of many BLAM artists that have grown with the festival over the years, but they’ve also grown with BLAM as well. The group was joined by Weird Al for last year’s Bonnaroo Lineup Announcement Megathon--a pairing that was later rehashed during their set on the Which Stage in 2013. This is a band that has truly made a second home at Bonnaroo with their unique shows, including an impromptu performance on the back of a flatbed truck in the 2011.
Dave Matthews Band
Few bands embody the spirit of Bonnaroo more perfectly than Dave Matthews Band. The group’s laid back attitude and penchant for improvisation harkens back to the festival’s roots as a more jamband-oriented affair. Their frontman made is first appearance during Bonnaroo’s third year with his Dave Matthews & Friends outfit (which featured longtime collaborator Tim Reynolds and Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, among others), and the group has headlined the event on two occasions--in 2005 and 2010.
Kings of Leon
Kings of Leon are another one of the many bands that have evolved with Bonnaroo over the last 12 years. The Tennessee-based rockers--who are never far from home at the festival--hold the distinction of being the first group to graduate from one of the many tent stages to the iconic What Stage, which they headlined in 2010.
With their folky vibe and uplifting sound, The Lumineers fit right in at Bonnaroo. Frontman Wesley Schultz even made it the first-ever Roo back in 2012--as a fan. In our 2013 Summer Stars profile on the group, the guitarist/vocalist recalled, “I remember smoking a joint inside a tent in the sweltering heat thinking we had to be secretive about it...It was the wild west that first year.”
Festival newcomer Allen Stone made his Bonnaroo debut last year with a well-recieved Thursday night set in the That Tent. The hippie-soul singer’s retro stylings and socially conscious music were more than welcome at the event, which has developed a reputation for promoting environmental, social and political awareness.
The Avett Brothers
The Avett Brothers’ traditional-yet-accessible sound is the kind of thing that many Bonnaroovians are looking for when they brave the summer heat in Manchester, TN. The group have come along way since making it to the festival in 2006, slowly climbing up to higher places on the lineup with each successive appearance (they’ve now played four times in total). Rumor has it The Avetts could be back on the farm for another set this summer!
What else is there to say about the World’s Greatest Rock Band that they haven’t already said themselves? The duo--one part Jack Black, one part Kyle Gass--blends music and comedy to create a totally unique experience, much like Bonnaroo itself.
Speaking of comedy, what kind of BLAM preview would this be if we didn’t highlight a comedian like Michael Winslow? The human-produced sound effects wizard--best known from his work in the classic Police Academy films--was a one-of-a-kind treat at last year’s Bonnaroo, making surprise appearances with Animal Collective and the Rock n Soul Superjam.
Jack Johnson is another great example of the kind of laid back musician who feels right at home on the farm. The singer-songwriter was never supposed to headline Bonnaroo, but that didn’t stop him from swooping in to save the day when medical issues forced Mumford & Sons to back out just a few days before last year’s event.
While Bonnaroo may not have had hip-hop in its blood from the beginning, the festival has certainly adopted the genre in more recent years (they even added a hip-hop superjam to the mix last year). Much like Bonnaroo, J. Cole got his start as a grassroots entity, releasing his first mixtape himself before being signed by his mentor-to-be Jay Z’s Roc Nation.
It’s not everyday that you get to see Ben Folds perform with The Flaming Lips, but the Bonnaroo Lineup Announcement Megathon is not every day. The singer-songwriter--who joins the Lips today for a special BLAM superjam--helped make Bonnaroo history in 2012 when he reunited with his trio Ben Folds Five (yes, there’s only three of them) for one of their first shows in years.
My Morning Jacket
If you want one of the best possible examples of a band that has grown with Bonnaroo look no further than My Morning Jacket. Their perfect mix of traditional rock and jammed out madness has been very appealing to Bonaroovians in years past. The five-piece first took the stage at Roo in 2004, and they made history in 2008 with a four-hour, rain soaked set that featured mind-blowing guest appearances by Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett and comedian Zach Galifianakis.
Though they didn’t actually play Bonnaroo as a single unit until five years ago, few bands had a bigger influence on the festival during its formative years than Phish. The event was, in many ways, based on the various fests that the jam icons put together before breaking up (not really, thank God) in 2004. The Phish was so strong with Bonnaroo that all four members of the band actually played the festival with other projects before the band headlined two nights during their triumphant return in 2009. The group have also become known for their special Bonnaroo collaborations--Bruce Sprignsteen joined them for “Glory Days” in 2009 and Kenny Rogers helped them through “The Gambler” in 2012.
Fitz and The Tantrums
Fitz and The Tantrums are another act that seamlessly fuses two seemingly different genres--in their case, indie pop and soul--to create a Bonnaroo-friendly sound. The band first made it to the farm in 2012, when they lit up That Tent with a fun afternoon set.
Wiz Khalifa is another name that fans of hip-hop were happy to see on the Bonnaroo lineup when he made his debut at the festival back in 2011. The young emcee’s stoner-approved lyrics went over well with the audience, some of whom may have inhaled themselves.
There was plenty of excitement leading up to the Questlove-curated Superjam at Bonnaroo 2012, but few expected that neo-soul icon D’Angelo would reemerge for his first U.S. performance in over 11 years. Then again, Bonnaroo Superjams are all about expecting the unexpected. Whether its Ben Harper and Questlove knocking out rock classics with Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones or a New Orleans-themed extravaganza with The Meters’ George Porter Jr., the opened-ended format opens up a wide range of possibilities.
Rock n Soul Superjam 2013
Now that we’re on the subject of superjams, it’d be hard to ignore last year’s eclectic mix of styles--both old and new. In addition to first-ever hip-hop superjam, 2013 saw Jim James and The Preservation Hall Band team up with the Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, legendary guitarist John Oates and funk pioneer Zigaboo Modeliste for the Rock n’ Soul Dance Party Superjam. The set featured stellar takes on--you guessed it--rock and soul classics like Bill Withers’ “Use Me,” Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everyday People” and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” Prince’s “1999” and so much more.