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Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, Bon Iver, The Beach Boys, Umphrey’s McGee, The Avett Brothers and More Confirmed for Bonnaroo

Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, Bon Iver and The Beach Boys are among the acts slated to appear at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival this spring. As previously reported, the 11th annual music, arts and comedy gathering will return to Manchester, Tenn. from June 7-10. The final Bonnaroo 2012 lineup will boast 125 bands and more than 20 comedians on 13 stages. Other marquee acts slated to appear at this year’s festival include: The Avett Brothers, The Shins, Foster The People, Skrillex, Umphrey’s McGee, Aziz Ansari, Dispatch, Feist, The Roots, Ludacris, Ben Folds Five and Flogging Molly. In perhaps this year’s most surprising move, shock rock icon Alice Cooper will also make a rare U.S. festival appearance. An announcement video featuring ESPN host John Anderson is available below.

“The process of booking Bonnaroo begins six months before we announce the festival’s initial lineup,” says Ashley Capps, whose Knoxville, Tenn.-based AC Entertainment produces the festival every summer with New York’s Superfly Presents. “You always hope to strike a balance between acts who have been part of the festival’s legacy and fresh, new and exciting acts that we hope to incorporate into Bonnaroo’s legacy in the future.”

Radiohead and Phish, two of this year’s headliners, have performed at Bonnaroo in the past. Though Bonnaroo always booked bands outside the jamband scene, many onlookers saw Radiohead’s 2006 headlining appearance as a sign that the festival had truly expanded its reach into the worlds of indie and alternative music. The members of Radiohead also cite the show as the band’s best—and longest—performance since their club days.

“The timing seemed right this year,” Capps says of Radiohead’s return appearance. “We had hoped to get them last year but the scheduling did not pan out. [Their] 2006 performance was one of the truly epic Bonnaroo moments.”

Phish’s Bonnaroo roots run even deeper. Though the band only performed at the festival in 2009—where they offered both a late-night show and a two-set marathon that featured a cameo from Bruce Springsteen—all four members of the band have performed at Bonnaroo with other projects. Phish’s semi-annual camping festivals also helped lay the groundwork for Bonnaroo. “In so many ways, Phish was an inspiration for the creation of Bonnaroo in the first place,” Capps admits. “Their festival events were models on which Bonnaroo was based; we were inspired by their creative ideas and thinking.”

While this will be Red Hot Chili Peppers’ first trip to Manchester, the classic alt-funk band is no stranger to the festival experience. In fact, the group cut its teeth on the original traveling Lollapalooza festival in the early ‘90s that brought the modern festival to the United States in the first place. “The Chili Peppers have been on our list for many years,” Capps adds. “We are blown away by their live show.”

Capps cites Bon Iver as a performer who has grown alongside the festival. The indie-folk star grew up playing in jam and roots-rock bands around Wisconsin and the Southeast and made his first appearance at Bonnaroo in 2009 while touring behind his first album. With two Grammy Awards and an SNL appearance under his belt, he’ll make his debut on one of Bonnaroo’s two main stages this June. “I remember seeing him for the first time at a club in Knoxville with 50 people in the room,” says Capps, who also points to The Avett Brothers and Umphrey’s McGee as examples of artists who have gradually made their way to bigger stages at the festival. “The Avetts started as a café act on the festival’s smallest stage [in 2006] and this year we welcome them to main stage at Bonnaroo. Umphrey’s are also really exploding. It is always special to see that connection and growth.”

Bonnaroo will likely be the first time many younger fans experience glam metal king Alice Cooper and the recently reunited Beach Boys. The latter group will feature band co-founders Brian Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardine, along with later additions like Bruce Johnston and David Marks. “Alice Cooper is someone else we have talked about having at the festival for some time,” reveals Capps. “I am really excited about having him. It is such a great show.”

As in years past, the festival will place an emphasis on special collaborations in jam sessions. Though many sit-ins will remain a surprise until show time, the festival’s signature SuperJam returns. Bonnaroo will also welcome Spectrum Road, a collaboration between Cindy Blackman Santana, Cream’s Jack Bruce, John Medeski and Living Colour’s Vernon Reid. “It is a touring project, though it hasn’t toured much in the United States,” Capps explains. “They did the San Francisco JazzFest and the Blue Note in New York two Januaries ago, but it is certainly something only a few people have been able to see.” Black Star, a hip-hop group featuring Mos Def and Talib Kweli, and The Word, a jamband alliance between Medeski, Robert Randolph and North Mississippi Allstars, will also perform.

Capps is also excited about some of the festival’s younger, first time performers like Little Dragon, tUnE-yArDs and The War on Drugs. Other emerging acts of note include soul-rock group Alabama Shakes, livetronica stars Big Gigantic, psych rock guitarist Kurt Vile, Austin rockers White Denim, reggae jamband SOJA and quirky rockers Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., among with returning favorites like Dawes, Gary Clark Jr. Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk and ALO.

“We are always looking to make little tweaks to make the experience more fun and easy for everyone,” Capp hints. “We are hoping to expand the festival’s camping options and activities. Something old, something new.”

Here’s a look at Bonnaroo’s initial lineup


Red Hot Chili Peppers


Bon Iver

The Beach Boys Featuring Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks

The Avett Brothers

The Shins

Foster The People


Aziz Ansari



The Roots

Alice Cooper


Black Star

The Word featuring John Medeski, Robert Randolph and North Mississippi Allstars


Ben Folds Five

Flogging Molly

Spectrum Road featuring Cindy Blackman Santana, Jack Bruce, John Medeski, and Vernon Reid

Mac Miller

Childish Gambino

Major Lazer



Flying Lotus

Umphrey’s McGee

Little Dragon

St. Vincent

City and Colour

The Civil Wars

Young The Giant

Two Door Cinema Club

Punch Brothers


Fitz & The Tantrums

Bad Brains




Danny Brown

The Black Lips



Kendrick Lamar

Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires

The Kooks

The Joy Formidable

The Antlers

Kathleen Edwards


Kurt Vile & The Violators

Alabama Shakes

Das Racist

Delta Spirit

Gary Clark Jr.

Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk

Laura Marling

Trampled by Turtles


The War On Drugs

Ben Howard


Blind Pilot


The Devil Makes Three

White Denim


Here We Go Magic


The Lonely Forest

Mariachi El Bronx

Big Freedia

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

The Soul Rebels



Steven Bernstein’s MTO Allstars Plays Sly

Big Gigantic

Sarah Jarosz



Fruit Bats

Moon Taxi

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