Bonnaroo 2010 Preview

By: Wesley Hodges

Bonnaroo 2009 by Snyder
Like the festivals that helped inspire its unique existence (Jazz Fest and Glastonbury), the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival has so much more to offer than just the music. This year's 9th annual event takes place from June 10-13 in Manchester, TN in Great Stage Park, and will once again draw 70-80,000 of the biggest music fiends you'll find anywhere. Hell, you have to be half-crazy to pay money to endure this kind of heat, but coming from someone who's been to all but one Bonnaroo, I can tell you that this year's king of American music festivals, like all previous editions, will be well worth the trip. Let JamBase tell you why with our list of 12 Must-See-Daytime-Bands, a run-down of late-night suggestions, and a few hints as to who to see and what to do in many of Centeroo's smaller cafes and activity centers.

As in 2006, the event promoters have shaken things up with the event's first real rap headliner (Jay-Z), the youngest band to ever headline (Kings of Leon), as well as a certain well-coiffed red-headed (unemployed) comedy icon MC'ing one of the main stages and the welcome addition of an all-night Lunar Stage devoted entirely to electronic music.

On paper, the 2010 edition reads like a synthesis of the last eight years with no musical styling or amenity unturned. Although one might not exactly be boiling over with excitement about some of the bands at the top of the bill, as always, there are infinitely more bands and activities than one could physically be there to enjoy. That right there is what makes a festival on the scale of Bonnaroo so enjoyable. The phrase "to each his own" captures the pioneering spirit of the Bonnaroo fan, and this festival is every bit as much about that person who makes it down to the front row to join the ruckus at The Melvins as it is for that dude hundreds of feet away getting chills at his first Stevie Wonder show or the girl who drags her boyfriend kicking and screaming out of the tent to catch the early Ingrid Michaelson show (and that guy then tells his girl, off-the-record, of course, that he kinda dug it). The beauty of it all is that these people all get to coexist in a bizarro escapist utopia and live out their musical dreams amongst friends. So, saddle up and take our suggestions at face value, because after all, as a wise spray painter once tagged, "The Roo You Take = The Roo You Make."

Thursday, June 10

Over the course of four days and some very late nights on two big stages, three decent size tents, and several smaller café like settings, a movie theatre and a comedy tent, Bonnaroo will feature around 160 artists. This list can't even begin to cover a fraction of the talent on display this weekend, but it is our hope that artists highlighted here help you uncover a lesser-known, an up-and-comer, or perhaps help you make a tough decision at a certain time slot. Instead of giving love to well known headliners we adore like Stevie Wonder, Jeff Beck or The Flaming Lips, we're going to direct your attention to a few bands you weren't perhaps planning to see. You can check out the entire Bonnaroo schedule here.

1. Baroness :: 5:45-6:45 pm :: The Other Tent
For those set up to get down early, these ferociously sharp South Georgia metal warriors might just blow your mind wide open right from the first licks of "A Horse Called Golgotha". The band's highly acclaimed Blue Record has brought them into the limelight, and with a stop at Coachella this year already under their belt, you'll be seeing a lot of these guys on the festival circuit for years to come.

2. Local Natives :: 7:00-8:00 pm :: That Tent
Gorilla Manor may be the strongest, most accessible indie rock album to come out in the last year, and these guys made a name for themselves after wowing the masses at this year's SXSW. Local Natives should be a nice change of pace for those who check out Baroness, and the lustrous vocal harmonizing should beam out nicely under the setting Tennessee sun. Those not familiar with the band should check out their cover of the Talking Heads "Warning Sign" that made it on the band's debut album, along with the excellent "Sun Hands".

3. Miike Snow :: 7:30-8:30 pm. :: This Tent
A little baffled that this one didn't get a slot after sunset, but nonetheless the DJ duo has made a name for themselves under the moniker of Miike Snow and this one will likely be the first of several hot, raucous and youthful get-downs at this year's festival.

Other Suggestions

If you arrive before the music gets cracking in the main tents, don't miss dexterously- gifted Australian guitar wunderkind Joe Robinson (age 19), who is playing as well as attending his first Bonnaroo. Robinson told JamBase, "I can't wait for the always fun challenge of winning over a new audience." Having already wowed over the likes of Steve Vai and the late great Les Paul with his uniquely outstanding talent, we can confidently say that a trip down to the Troo Music Lounge at 1:00 p.m. would be the perfect way to start the weekend. For those who can't make it, Robinson told us he'd be picking with his buddies, the Nashville jam band Elmwood on Saturday in the Troo Music Lounge.

Also, Thursday night has always been the best night to go exploring all this ephemeral Tennessee utopian acreage has to offer. So, spread your wings, grab a comfortable chair, meet your neighbors, and set up shop for a big weekend.

Continue reading for JamBase's recommendations for Friday...

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