Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bjork, Wilco, Pretty Lights, Gov’t Mule, Jim James and More Confirmed for Bonnaroo
Mumford & Sons at Bonnaroo in 2011
Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Björk, Wilco and Pretty Lights are among the acts slated to appear at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival this spring. As previously reported, the 12th annual music, arts and comedy gathering will return to Manchester, Tenn. from June 13-16. The final Bonnaroo 2013 lineup will boast over 125 bands and more than 20 comedians on 13 stages. Other marquee acts slated to appear at this year’s festival include: Wu-Tang Clan, Daniel Tosh, The National, The Lumineers, David Byrne & St. Vincent, Passion Pit, The xx, Kendrick Lamar, Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Of Monsters and Men, Nas and ZZ Top. In perhaps this year’s most surprising move, ‘90s R &B star R. Kelly will make his first Bonnaroo appearance as part of a festival circuit blitz behind his new studio album Black Panties. The 12th annual festival’s lineup was revealed during an extended Lineup Announcement Megathon featuring “Weird Al” Yankovic and Portugal. The Man.
“When we go into programming the festival we say, ‘How can we build on the past of Bonnaroo but create something, fresh, exciting and engaging for the audience and ourselves,’” says Ashley Capps, whose Knoxville, Tenn.-based AC Entertainment produces the festival every summer with New York’s Superfly Presents. “There is a team that books and programs Bonnaroo and the one thing that can be said about all of us is that we are passionate music fans. We still pursue new music like any other fans, and I hope that the breadth and the depth of our lineup reflects that passion.”
Mumford & Sons and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, two of this year’s headliners, have performed at Bonnaroo in the past. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers—one of the first classic rock icons to headline Bonnaroo during its earlier years—performed at the festival in 2006. Their greatest hits-filled Friday night set included a guest appearance by Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks, who was on tour with Petty throughout that summer.
“Tom Petty’s musical legacy is amazing,” Capps says. “The extraordinary string of songs he has written and recorded over the years is part of the soundtrack of American music. That performance [in 2006] to this day is one of my favorite Bonnaroo performances of all time.”
Like Kings of Leon and My Morning Jacket before them, Mumford & Sons are among bands to grow from one of the festival’s intimate tent spots to a main stage headlining slot. The English roots-revival act performed in That Tent in 2010 and graduated to the Which Stage in 2011, where they drew the largest crowd in that stage’s history.
“As a music fan, it is always a thrill to see a band connect on such a deep level with their audience as Mumford & Sons has,” Capps says. “They progressed pretty quickly from the first year they played. That year we booked them as the first act of the day in a tent and, by the time we finalized the schedule, we had already moved them to the closing act in that tent. It was an explosive appearance and because of that we invited them back the following year. We could have put them on the main stage but they elected to play the second stage. It was one of the most iconic Bonnaroo performances from over the years. It gives you newfound faith in music to see a band like that achieve that level of success.”
Though this is Paul McCartney’s first performance in Manchester, the Beatle is no stranger to modern music festivals as in recent years he has performed at both Glastonbury and Coachella. His inaugural Bonnaroo appearance comes off his successful set at the 12.12.12 charity event, where McCartney performed with the surviving members of Nirvana.
“It’s a dream come true [to have Paul McCartney] and one that has been discussed for several years,” Capps gushes. “Sometimes it takes a while for the sun, the moon and the stars to align and this year they did. They haven’t shared too many details about his set with us but the one thing we can count on is that it will be an iconic performance. I saw him at Glastonbury in 2004 and it was inspirational. I still remember the day my father walked up to our back door with Meet the Beatles. I am sure a lot of the audience will never have seen him but will still know all the songs.”
As in years past, the festival will place an emphasis on special collaborations and jam sessions. Though many sit-ins will remain a surprise until show time, the festival’s signature SuperJam will return in an expanded format. This year the festival will host multiple SuperJams, two of which have already been confirmed.
The Soul SuperJam will feature Jim James with John Oates, Meters drummer Zigaboo Modeliste, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and other surprise guests while the Ed Helms Bluegrass Situation Superjam with weave in a variety of string players. Jim James has performed at Bonnaroo seven times in the past decade while Modeliste appeared at the festival in 2011 as part of The Original Meters’ reunion. Preservation Hall Jazz Band have appeared at Bonnaroo numerous times in a variety of capacities: They’ve hosted their own weekend-long stage, performed with Del McCoury, recorded Bonnaroo’s 10th anniversary theme song, hosted a film screening, sat in with My Morning Jacket on the massive What Stage and participated in a New Orleans-themed SuperJam featuring Dr. John and members of The Black Keys. This will be Oates’ first Bonnaroo appearance. (His longtime partner Daryl Hall played the festival in 2008 with Chromeo.)
“There is another SuperJam or two already in the works,” Capps hints. “The SuperJam is one of the special, iconic features of Bonnaroo—in some cases the ideas of the SuperJam take a while to come together and gel with the right plays. Having a SuperJam with Jim James is something that has been discussed for two or three years now and it is really exciting to see it come together.”
While primarily known as a comedic actor, Helms is an accomplished banjo player and pals with bands such as Mumford & Sons and Punch Brothers. Interestingly enough, Preservation Hall leader Ben Jaffe and Helms are old college friends and the tuba player will curate his own bluegrass tent at Bonnaroo this spring.
“Ed Helms is doing a tent called the Bluegrass Situation and it will culminate with a bluegrass jam that he is curating as well,” Capps says. “He first approached us as a bluegrass aficionado and banjo player. He hosted an event in Los Angeles called the Bluegrass Situation which is where the idea to have him do a tent emerged from a few months ago.”
One unexpected booking choice is English rocker Billy Idol, who is known for hits like “White Wedding,” “Rebel Yell” and “Eyes Without a Face.” Much like Alice Copper last year, Capps feels that Idol will appeal to Bonnaroo’s core audience. “We definitely have a bucket list of performers that we love that we think the Bonnaroo audience will love. It is part of the fun programming of the festival to surprise people a little bit and go out of the box a little bit but that people will still go nuts over.”
Bonnaroo’s early years primarily featured acts associated with jamband and Americana genres. This year the festival turns its attention to the modern psychedelic scene, which shares the festival’s roots in improvisational-inspired music. Some the style’s most prominent acts, including Animal Collective, Tame Impala, Lord Huron, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Cults, Bombino, Django Django and Portugal. The Man, are slated to perform at the festival.
“Of the group of us who programs the festival, one of us is out seeing a concert every night,” Capps adds “When you see Animal Collective or Ariel Pink that is just as much about our passion as fans as it is about programming the festival.”
As of press time, Govt Mule is the only full-band only holdover from the first Bonnaroo on the festival’s bill. However, the Disco Biscuits’ Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner—who performed at the first Bonnaroo and have since returned several times—will perform with their Conspirator project.
Elsewhere, New Orleans jam/funk scene export Trombone Shorty will return to the festival, while banjo ace Noam Pikelny—who has performed at Bonnaroo as a member of both Leftover Salmon and Punch Brothers—will bring his Friends project to the festival. Jamband-inspired roots outfit Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers will also make their debut appearance at Bonnaroo.
“We are not consciously trying to not program [jamband music], but the process of booking the festival is an ongoing discussion,” Capps admits. “As we learn about which artists will be available at the time of the festival the lineup takes on a life of its own. We kind of follow that thread. We love a lot of the great jambands and they will definitely be returning to Bonnaroo at various points in the future.” Capps also admits that he didn’t notice the lack of a shed-size jamband until the festival’s lineup was revealed.
Another Bonnaroo regular who will return this spring is bluegrass legend Del McCoury. This year McCoury—who appeared at the first Bonnaroo with his family band—will perform with Bonnaroo veteran Sam Bush. Jazz/fusion icon John McLaughlin will also appear the festival with his project the 4th Dimension.
Bonnaroo has rounded out its rock acts with hip-hop and electronic music since its very first year. This year’s big name rap acts include Wu-Tang Clan, Kendrick Lamar and Nas, the latter of which has appeared at the festival alongside Damian Marley as well as a surprise guest during the Beastie Boy’s final live performance. Pretty Lights, Wolfgang Gartner, Porter Robinson and Paper Diamond represent a generation of electronic artists who made their name playing rock clubs instead of traditional dance halls. Pretty Lights has grown with the festival, too: In 2009, he played The Other Tent and this year he moves to the top of the event’s bill.
Capps promises a variety of lineup additions, including most of the comedy offerings and new additions to the festival site. In particular, he points to a new solar-powered grid that was installed since last June. He also makes a special mention of singer/songwriter Matthew E. White, who is billed near the bottom of the festival’s current lineup.
“Matthew is amazing—he played my friends’ festival Hopstock in September. The beauty of Bonnaroo is that you have Paul McCartney and Matthew E. White and so many points in-between.”
Tickets go on sale on Saturday, February 23rd at 12PM EST on Bonnaroo.com.
Here’s a look at the festival’s confirmed lineup
Mumford & Sons
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
David Byrne & St. Vincent
Of Monsters and Men
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes
“Weird Al” Yankovic
Soul SuperJam ft. Jim James with John Oates, Zigaboo Modeliste (of the Meters), Preservation Hall Jazz Band and more TBA!
Ed Helms Bluegrass Situation Superjam with special guests
Portugal. The Man
Sam Bush & Del McCoury
Matt & Kim
John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension
Noam Pikelny & Friends
Amadou & Mariam
Father John Misty
The Tallest Man On Earth
Walk The Moon
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Lee Fields & The Expressions
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
twenty | one | pilots
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
JEFF The Brotherhood
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors
Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers
Matthew E. White