Bonnaroo is the weirdo of all the big festivals. It’s not really about industry, or after-parties, or what celebrities turn up. You invariably lose your cell phone. Make-up and any/all attempts at being fashionable are sneered at (it’s a hundred-degree sweatfest and no one has showered in days. Face it, you’re not going to look all that great). It’s kind of disgusting. Yes, Bonnaroo is basically about setting up your tent in the mud next to the campsite of a dude named Squirrel and liking it, and I don’t think anyone who’s been would have it any other way.
Despite the freewheeling atmosphere, the line-ups for Bonnaroo have recently been wonderfully bizarre hybrids of predictably jammed-out acid bands, dreamy armies of college-radio all-stars, insane rappers and DJs, and older veterans of the music scene. Last year, it made no sense to miss it – the lineup was incredible, from the headliners right down to the “I guess that’s technically a stage” bands. This year, I feel a little differently.
First of all, Dave Matthews Band is headlining? This choice is going to bring out the aging “wish-I-was-still-in-college-bro” crowds in droves. Fun! Add that to an inordinate amount of other jam bands, some weak choices from the indie side of the spectrum (She & Him, Tokyo Police Club), and Jay-Z, and you’ve got this year’s Bonnaroo.
Am I being too cynical? I think my expectations are just really high. The Flaming Lips playing “Dark Side of the Moon” DOES sound mind-blowingly good, and I’d love to see Here We Go Magic and LCD Soundsystem (although I could just go to the Pitchfork Festival for that). Local Natives, however, is a huge draw for me, and I don’t think they’ve announced any other festival dates as of yet.
How do you guys feel about this year’s line-up? Are you, like me, a little disappointed, or do you still think the acts are worth the ticket price? I’m all conflicted. I love you, Bonnaroo, but I feel like you done me wrong.