The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, one of the United States' principal music festivals, returns for its 14th event in Manchester, Tennessee in just a little over three weeks. One of the longest-running festivals in America, Bonnaroo blends a variety of different artists and genres for its comprehensive lineup. Additionally, Bonnaroo packs a number of sites, art installations, and audiovisual experiences over the course of its four-day festivities.
This year, EDM.com writer Cody Smith organized a four-part series to discuss Bonnaroo, including who to see and how to prepare for the four days of camping and music. The first part of the series hits close to home, as Smith picks nine EDM artists to check out during the weekend. From Bonnaroo's first-ever EDM headliner deadmau5 to the long-awaited return of Bassnectar, these nine artists should definitely be considered for your schedules.
Without further ado, read Smith's picks below:
Bonnaroo opened up to slotting big-time EDM artists in prime spots over the past few years, but this year marks the festival's biggest embrace of the genre yet. This is best evidenced by Bonnaroo's pick to give deadmau5 a headlining slot, a late night set in which deadmau5 will be the first EDM act to play the festival's main stage, which is labeled by organizers as the What Stage. Coming off the release of his 2014 album While (1<2), deadmau5 plans to bring an entirely new production to the massive field of the What Stage. Deadmau5 brought his Soundcloud account back to life this week, teasing three new tracks that suggest more upcoming music. With a 90-minute set, deadmau5's performance may go down in Bonnaroo history as one of the festival's greatest.
Bassnectar makes his long-awaited Bonnaroo return this year, playing for the first time since 2011. Much has changed in Bassnectar's career since then, including a massive surge in popularity, a wealth of new releases, and the incorporation of a new stage production. Bassnectar plays the Which Stage late Saturday night, and many fans speculate that he may play far past his 90-minute set time. Bonnaroo artists tend to go over their scheduled time if they close out a stage during a late night set, and Bassnectar's reputation of putting on exhaustive live performances guarantees an awe-inspiring set.
A year ago, ODESZA would have likely played on Thursday of Roo, which is usually reserved for up-and-coming acts. This year, ODESZA marks their Bonnaroo debut by playing a primetime late night slot on Friday night, bearing testament to the duo's quick rise to fame. ODESZA's touring festivals hard this year, but seeing them play late into the night at Bonnaroo is too good of an opportunity to pass up. With their 2014 album In Return dominating the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart for weeks, ODESZA's music clearly appeals to all types of music fans. They fit perfectly into the Bonnaroo aesthetic, and will give the festival a highlight with their live show.
4. Flying Lotus
Bonnaroo does not usually bring back repeat artists so quickly, but the return of Flying Lotus makes for a welcome exception. Also scheduled to play during the packed Friday late night block, Flying Lotus will bring his Layer3 production rig to Roo alongside tunes spanning his classic Los Angeles album to his 2014 tour-de-force You're Dead! LP. Collaborations at festivals run rampant among artists who share the bill, and Flying Lotus has history with fellow Roo artist Kendrick Lamar and Thundercat, a guitarist/singer who many speculate will play in Kendrick's live band. Even without special guests, Flying Lotus' set gives attendees an enjoyable trip-hop/jazz option.
5. Jamie xx
The producer and member of The xx, Jamie xx carved out a distinct solo career as he experimented with house, garage, and deep house productions. In 2015, Jamie xx drives his career to the next level with the June release of his debut solo album In Colour. His recent sets not only showcase his new music but also his DJing skills, with recent track inclusions ranging from a new song from Tame Impala to a deep disco cut from the '70s. Jamie xx may not play a late night set, but his evening set on Saturday will up the energy levels during a period where most attendees save up their energy. Prepare to be amazed.
While not the most upbeat artist of this bunch, Tycho creates atmospheric electronic music by fusing ambience and post-rock influences. Initially a solo project from producer Scott Hansen, Tycho evolved to represent a full-fledged band. This evolution comes to light during the group's live shows, which include extended jams and moody visuals that fit the art associated with Tycho's albums and EPs. Their set begins halfway through headliner Mumford & Sons' performance, which should give fans plenty of room to dance, space out, and enjoy the newly-annointed Tycho experience.
Similar to Tycho, Caribou jumps from single producer to developed band in the live setting. Behind the record, producer Dan Snaith creates album of the year-worthy material, most notably seen by his 2014 album Our Love. During Caribou's live shows, Snaith joins three other musicians to bring his tracks to life with added instrumentals and more improvisation. Caribou plays an interesting slot for their Roo debut, closing out the Other Tent on Sunday right before headliner Billy Joel takes his unopposed slot. Other artists may keep energy levels low, but Caribou's distinguised live sets will revitalize atteendees for one last hurrah of the weekend.
British producer Rustie comes in low on the overall lineup, but attendees should take note of Bonnaroo's inspired decision to add him to the lineup. Not a common name among mainstream EDM listeners, Rustie launched to the forefront of many music publications after the release of his 2011 album Glass Swords. With the 2014 album Green Language, Rustie collaborated with the likes of Danny Brown and more. His music, an onslaught of future bass basslines, chiptune synths, and vocal splices, distances from much of what dominates electronic music at the moment, and his set early Friday evening will give attendees a taste of one of electronic music's current innovators.
Bonnaroo generally slots one to three electronic acts on Thursday, and this year trip-hop producer Gramatik gets the esteemed chance to close out the Other Tent on Thursday night. Despite his lengthy career, Gramatik only recently began to acquire widespread attention. His 2014 album The Age Of Reason helped escalate Gramatik's sound, combining a plethora of influences and souds suitable for the producer's music. Gramatik often tours with an accompanying guitarist, which gives his show an added live element that fits well within Bonnaroo's theme. Thursday acts tend to explore following these performances, and the promise to Gramatik's show may just continue that trend.
Bonnaroo hits Manchester, Tennessee on June 11-15, 2015. Watch the official 2014 recap video below: