By: Bob Mandich
The lineup for the 2014 edition of Bonnaroo was revealed tonight over the course of a 30 minute special that was aired on the festivals website. The “Bonnaroo Lineup Announcement Megathon” (B.L.A.M. for short) saw the 2014 lineup get revealed little by little while The Flaming Lips and Ben Folds played together in what looked like a high school gymnasium. It also featured Hannibal Buress which automatically made it funny. The lineup reveal show is ultimately about one thing and that’s the lineup. Bonnaroos headliners include a true music legend performing his first U.S. festival ever and a man who was thought never to return to the farm. Elton John is the first name you’ll see on the lineup poster and there is no question that Sir Elton will be leading a choir of 80000+ to the likes of “Bennie and the Jetts”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and countless others. In what has to already be considered the most controversial booking in the festivals history Kanye West will be returning to Bonnaroo for the first time since his infamous performance (or partial lack thereof) in 2008. Mr. West performed a tad bit later than he was scheduled to, 10 hours to be exact. He blamed it all on production issues and became the most hated artist in the Bonnaroo community. 6 years later Kanye returns as a headliner and will need to use all of his Yeezus powers to win over a crowd that’s sure to be a tad bit hostile.
Another big story here is that for the 2nd year in a row there is a serious decrease in jam and a serious increase in electronic music. Everybody knows that Bonnaroo was originally a jam festival and its first few years featured some of the greatest jam band lineups you’ll ever see. As the story usually goes Bonnaroo got bigger and the diversity of its lineup grew with each passing year. Even though the lineup eventually became dominated by huge mainstream headliners, indie, alternative and hip-hop, Bonnaroo always dedicated a good section of its lineup to jam. The 2011 lineup featured Widespread Panic & The String Cheese Incident (some would say My Morning Jacket too) in the top ten. Umphrey’s McGee is the top jam band, listed just outside the top ten at 31. Electronic DJs like Skrillex (8), Kaskade (13) and Zedd (23) are all listed higher on the lineup. Skrillex will even be getting his own superjam that’s labed as “Superjam with Skrillex & Friends”, granted that could be very cool because almost anybody could show up. It appears that maybe DJs are the new jam bands in the minds of the festival organizers.
At the end of the day the lineup is very good and very diverse. The highlights include Phoenix, Frank Ocean, The Flaming Lips, Damon Albarn (Gorillaz), Disclosure, Cut Copy, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Chromeo, James Blake, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Chance The Rapper, Yonder Mountain String Band, John Butler Trio, The Glitch Mob, Washed Out, Warpaint, Darkside, The Wood Brothers, Pusha T, Greensky Bluegrass, Cherub, Break Science and Caveman. All of the superjams look to be every good this year as well. Along with the “Skrillex & Friends” superjam there will also be a bluegrass superjam that’s hosted by Ed Helms. Did you know Andy from The Office plays a really mean banjo? The third and final superjam is simply listed as “Superjam “?””. There is no telling what it could possibly be but my gut right now is telling me something involving a combination of Frank Ocean, Lauryn Hill, James Blake and/or Chromeo. Maybe even Lionel Richie, too. Whatever it is will surely turn some heads, move some feet and create another “Were you there when…” moment in the process.
Tickets for Bonnaroo 2014 go on sale this Saturday at 11am CT on the Bonnaroo official website. Will you be Rey Jing in Manchester, TN?