Year after year Bonnaroo scores one of the best lineups of music festivals across the states. They basically combine the anticipated acts of Coachella, Sasquatch! and Outside Lands, then put their personal stamp on it by picking quality lesser-known artists. Since the hype seems to always surround headliners, this playlist gives the underdogs a chance at being noticed in the event you make it out before the sun goes down. To give you some perspective, Milo Greene, Sea Wolf, Portugal. The Man and Local Natives all played last year well before the hour after which you need to start running frantically from set to set. If you cannot make it to Bonnaroo in a few days, then here’s your opportunity to mope a bit and discover something new.
J Roddy Walston And The Business — “Take It As It Comes”
Walston’s raspy voice and his passionate piano playing keep this band from falling in the shadows of Vampire Weekend, as the two can sound quite similar. Good news, since Vampire Weekend will headline the day after them. J Roddy Walston And The Business formed in Tennessee in 2002, making Bonnaroo not only a big break but also a chance to play where they started.
The Wild Feathers — “Backwoods Company”
The Wild Feathers breaks from the typical band model of one lead singer by bringing together four front men. Ricky Young, Joel King, Taylor Burns, Preston Wimberly and Ben Dumas, the first four of whom sang lead in their previous bands, combine rock, blues and folk to create a sound unlike others who also attempt this combination. They came together to form something larger than each could accomplish alone, allowing their voices to effortlessly compliment each other. For the most part, they grew up in Texas, making the South home to them as well.
Warpaint — “Keep It Healthy”
In their newest album, Warpaint strips down their instrumental arrangements to create something more minimalist. Though they did not change their style too drastically, the band pays more attention to acoustic guitars and keys than they did in preceding works. The album, named after the band, is the first LP produced in its entirety by all the current members.
Dr. Dog — “Lonesome”
If you didn’t hear them at Sasquatch! this year or at Outside Lands two years ago or even when Superb featured them on Cal Day in 2012, now is your chance. Although they can no longer be considered a low-key band, they still need a little more promotion for how talented they are.
Greensky Bluegrass — “Time/ Reprise”
Though their original pieces sound just as solid, Greensky Bluegrass’s cover of the Pink Floyd track shows their skill even when adapting a song that strays from their usual style. This bluegrass band formed in 2000 and has since released seven albums: four in studio and three live. However, they continue to fall under the radar. Michael Bont’s plucky banjo aside the guitar, bass and mandolin work to create a piece that does the Pink Floyd version justice.
John Butler Trio — “Zebra”
They may no longer be that small anymore either, but still, they are definitely worth seeing. Headed by guitarist and singer John Butler, the John Butler Trio’s music assures ideal vibes for Bonnaroo. This track comes off their 2005 album Sunrise Over the Sea, but their most recent album Flesh & Blood, released this year, contains pieces on which Butler flows just as well.
St. Paul & The Broken Bones — “Like a Mighty River”
St. Paul & The Broken Bones only formed in 2012 and released their first full-length album in January of this year. Although each member of the sextet formerly played for other bands, Bonnaroo is the big break for the soul group from Alabama. Paul Janeway on lead vocals adds power to every track he touches.
First Aid Kit — “Wolf”
First Aid Kit took on the festival season in 2012 then fell into a stream of following success. Two years later, with their new album Stay Gold out, this should be the tour that brings even more crowds. These Swedish sisters originally became popular for “The Lion’s Roar” and “Emmylou” and have since moved more toward country than folk. The record is distinctly American in its style and lyrics — well fitting for the festival.
Vance Joy — “Play With Fire”
This Australian singer-songwriter brings good vibes to each of his sets, smirking at his fans and offering to meet them for a beer after the show. He has only officially released five songs, making him an ideal fit for a festival: that 30 minute set won’t leave you wanting more, since there really isn’t more. He initially gained popularity for “Riptide,” which has a stunning number of Spotify hits (nearly 50,000) in comparison to his other tracks. He desperately needs to produce more to keep his fans sedated. Maybe Bonnaroo will be his chance to bring out new material.