Bonnaroo 2013: Fans and Bands Expect Greatness

A recent wave of announcements about the 2013 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival stoked anticipation for the 12th iteration of the event, with fans and performers alike getting in the spirit. In the span of just a couple of weeks, the festival announced the last round of artist additions, the late-night shows, the lineup for the cinema tent, the festival schedule, and the “café stage” schedule, sending online message boards into frenzy. After a miserable winter and loads of bad news, American music fans are hyped for festival season and the good times within. Bonnaroo, happening June 13-16 in Manchester, TN, is going to be a Summer solstice all its own, with an international lineup of music legends, a cavalcade of important bands from nearly every genre, comedians, cinema, and vaguely controlled chaos at every turn.

Josh Tillman, who will bring his Father John Misty persona to the festival’s opening Thursday night, filled a recent Bonnaroo press conference with debauched talk and non-sequiturs that definitely conjured a familiar, freewheeling vibe. While it was tough to get a straight answer out of him on any topic, he did indicate that he plans to embrace the weird during his time in Manchester. “I’d like to see Weird Al, I’d like to see R. Kelly, I’d like to see whoever is making funnel cakes at the funnel cake booth. I’d like to go watch them for a while. Yes, those are my Big 3,” he said, later adding “I would like to…continue to ingratiate, to like, ingratiate myself to David Cross.”

Cole Smith of DIIV, another of this year’s hot Thursday night performers and a former Bonnaroo camper, likened the legendary Bonnaroo atmosphere to “this vibe of like Coachella mixed with Burning Man or something like that.” His peak experience at Bonnaroo 2007 was “a screening of Coffee and Cigarettes with Jim Jarmusch…I remember the entire time he was talking, he was like, all antsy because he wanted to go see Wolfmother.”

The star power of Bonnaroo is impressive, even if you’re nearly a star yourself. There are once-in-a-lifetime experiences like Paul McCartney, Bjork, and a Superjam featuring Jim James, John Oates, Zigaboo Modeliste, and Preservation Hall. There are wild late-night shows with appropriate acts like Wu-Tang Clan, Weird Al Yankovic, and Animal Collective, a herd of big-name comics including Cross, Mike Birbiglia, and Daniel Tosh, and the next generation of headlining acts well-represented via rising stars like Jason Isbell, Trombone Shorty, and The National. As a bonus, the lineup – in many respects – is less stacked than past years, so the set conflicts aren’t as bad. It’s setting up to be a grand affair for those who immerse themselves in the music.

There’s no telling which musical path people will take from the time Nicki Bluhm starts on Thursday to the encore of Tom Petty’s Sunday night closing show, but there’s bound to be plenty of that special Bonnaroo magic that has been so palpable for so many years.

10 Intriguing Facts About Bonnaroo 2013

1. Paul McCartney will be the first Beatle to visit Bonnaroo.

2. As of this preview, nothing has been publicly scheduled for “That Tent” late-night on Friday. On Twitter, Roo honcho Ashley Capps has hinted at some sort of surprise…but we’ve been down this possibly disappointing road before.

3. After some quizzical late-night choices in 2012, the 2013 shows are back to embracing full-on oddity. Perhaps it will suffice to say that Billy Idol, R. Kelly, ZZ Top, Weird Al Yankovic, and John Oates are all involved.

4. Other late night events include : R. Kelly, Animal Collective, Wu-Tang Clan, Pretty Lights, Empire of the Sun, Billy Idol, ZZ Top, the Rock N’ Soul Dance Party Superjam (featuring Jim James with John Oates, Zigaboo Modeliste, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Bilal, and Larry Graham), "Weird Al" Yankovic, Boys Noize, Wolfgang Gartner, Porter Robinson, and Bustle in Your Hedgerow.

5. Some Bonnaroo attendees have started a campaign to have Bjork’s set time changed, so that her show will take place in darkness. They feel that the visual effect of her stage production will be lost in the fading daylight of 7 – 8:30 PM.

6. This will be Gov’t Mule’s 6th Bonnaroo appearance. The only other bands to play Bonnaroo more than 5 times are Widespread Panic, moe., Galactic, Umphrey’s McGee, and My Morning Jacket.

7. Suspicious time slots have been added to the Solar Stage and Sonic Stage schedule. On Sunday at 2 PM, “Very Special Guest (Interview)” will surely draw many curious folks to the Solar Stage. Just a few hours later, “Surprise Set” will close out the Sonic Stage.

8.  Although semi-regular Bonnaroo jam band titans like Phish, Furthur,  moe., Widespread Panic and Umphrey’s McGee are noticeably absen,t jam fans can still improv with with Trombone Shorty, Jason Isbell, Ryan Montbleau , Maps and Atlases, Amadou and Miriam,John McLaughlin/Conspirator, Preservation Hall, Portugal the Man, Gov’t Mule, Superjam, Bustle in Your Hedgerow, the Bluegrass Tent, along with Tom Petty (who doesn’t like Petty?)

  If your not down with jam or indie rock,  the burgeoning EDM scene is well represented with Pretty Lights, Boys Noize,  Wolfgang Gartner,  Porter Robinson, A-Trak, araabMUZIK,  Clockwork and Paper Diamond

10.  Unlike in prior years in late May, Bonnaroo is not sold out yet as of press time. 4 Day general admission tickets are still available!  Get em now at

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