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The Buzz is road tripping to Tennessee! Thanks to Bonnaroo, we will be covering the annual music festival in Manchester. Over 125 artists, comedians and performers will be at hand during this four-day spectacular. Kirk Windus and I (Joseph Phelan) will write reviews on some of the shows we listen to these next four days. Hopefully we can grab an interview or two with up and coming artists. Before we leave, however, we wanted to give you the acts that WE are looking forward to seeing. Some gigantic music names will be in attendance, including Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White, Vampire Weekend and dozens mores. It’s an incredible opportunity, and we are elated to share with you our experiences at one of the best American music festivals.
I’m not really sure what to expect. No amount of reading or video watching will replace actually experiencing Bonnaroo for the first time, so I’m looking forward to seeing the sights, smelling the different foods and listening to the beautiful sounds for the first time. Here are the five musicians I have to see this weekend (in no particular order):
The Buzz likes Ben Howard, a lot. The English singer-songwriter’s album debuted in 2011 with an album titled Every Kingdom, featuring Only Love and The Wolves. He has immensely strong lyrics as a folk artist. His one song, The Fear, is featured on my radio show quite often. My sister’s a huge Howard fan, and introduced me to him back in 2012. Bonnaroo scheduled Ben Howard at Which Stage from 4:30 to 5:30. Howard makes mellow music that gives you peace and solitude. Bonnaroo is filled with diverse musicians, and although Howard won’t wow his audience with energy or power, he does pour his soul into his music, and it’s something I’ve wanted to witness for sometime now.
The Friday lineup is unreal. My day might look like this: Vintage Trouble, Sam Smith, Danny Brown, Ben Howard, The Head and the Heart, CHVRCHES, Phoenix, Kanye West, Ice Cube and Chance the Rapper. Sprinkle in Dr. Dog, Vampire Weekend, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Naked and Famous and Janelle Monae and Friday June 13 might be the best day of my life. This Scottish electronic band has a phenomenal vocalist in Lauren Mayberry. Glassnote Records released their debut studio album The Bones of What You Believe in September 2013. CHVRCHES’s album was my fourth favorite album of 2013 (behind Haim, Kanye West and Kurt Vile), so you better believe that I’m picking to see them over Vampire Weekend who unfortunately plays at the same time.
I emailed Jamestown Revival back in March. I had hoped to book them at St. Bonaventure for a concert. The funds were not there to book a band such as Jamestown Revival. Their debut album, Utah, was released this year. They preformed their single “California” on Conan O’Brien in January. Their Facebook page describes their sound as “indie-rock with a southern slant.” Much of their music is about discovering new adventures, figuring out yourself and what the west has to offer to two Texas friends. I discovered Jamestown Revival in February after their Daytrotter session. They played Golden Age, Time Is Gone, California and Wandering Man. They are an up-and-coming band, so hopefully they become bigger with Bonnaroo exposure. I’ve heard they play loud, engaging shows, so check them out on Saturday at either 4 p.m. or 7 p.m.
I’ve seen Elton John and Billy Joel together once, but I’ve never seen Elton John solo. Bonnaroo saves the best for last with Elton John performing from 9:30 to 11:30 on Sunday night. My birthday is Monday, so technically it will be my birthday for the last half hour of the show, at least on the east coast. Elton John will be fantastic no matter what songs he chooses to play. I have a high level of excitement for Sir Elton John to mesmerize each Rooer. I’m sure he’ll play a bunch of stuff off of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but really it’s just going to be a pleasure listening to one of the best to ever do it.
Music festivals are so cool for a number of reasons. One of them has to do with how many artists gain exposure while playing in front of large crowds. People go to music festivals for big named artists. It’s how Bonnaroo is able to sell tickets. Kanye West and Elton John are the two biggest names in this lineup. Ye played at Bonnaroo in 2008, but it didn’t end well. Basically Kanye West’s show was properly produced because it was still light outside. Kanye West, however, will be on Friday night from 10 to midnight. I anticipate a fantastic Kanye West show, especially given how much criticism he’d receive if it’s anything short of spectacular.
Other artists: Cherub, The Head and the Heart, Lionel Richie, Frank Ocean, Pusha T and Danny Brown
Thursday morning, Joe and I will begin our journey to Bonnaroo. It’s still hard to believe that we’ll be among the 80,000 or so that flock to the acres of Tennessee that for four days become a musical heaven and a sanctuary for fans.
According to google maps, it’s a 12-hour trek from my sleepy little town to Manchester, but I’m sure Joe will find a way to keep me entertained on the long journey.
So what are we most excited for? I’ve been trying to answer that question in my head for a little while now. Well, hanging out with Joe is the obvious answer, but it’s fair to say that Kanye’s at the top of both of our lists. We’ve both been doing our fair share of fan-girling over Kanye lately.
Joe’s lucky enough to have already seen Elton John, but I haven’t and I can’t wait to watch him light up ‘Roo from behind the grand piano.
Headliners aside, I can’t wait to see The Head and the Heart. Both of their albums have been brilliant, and the future’s awfully bright for the band. Cage the Elephant are kind of festival legends, and they always bring an amazing energy to the stage. You never know what will happen when those guys take the stage, and I can’t wait to see them.
Probably second on my list, behind Kanye, would be Chance the Rapper. Acid Rap is one of my favorite albums from the entire year, and I think Chance does absolutely amazing things. He’s bound to rule at Bonnaroo.
I also can’t wait to see Vampire Weekend, The Naked and Famous, Disclosure and Sam Smith. City and Colour are absolutely incredible from the old, Dallas-Green-and-an-acoustic songs to the new, full-band tracks, so I can’t wait to see them. I’ll also definitely be checking out Kevin Devine again. He may not be the biggest name on the lineup, but I saw him this winter and he blew me away. I think he’s probably the most underrated songwriter of our generation, and he’s an amazing guy, so definitely check him out.
Keep your eyes peeled for more from Joe and I. We’ll be writing and posting as much as we can from the festival.