Bonnaroo Preview – The Headliners

So, we just got approved for a press pass and are scrambling to figure out exactly how we are going to get to Bonnaroo because we just cannot miss it. We had our doubts about getting the press pass love and had basically resigned ourselves to missing it because it is such a trek from LA, but we’ve got renewed enthusiasm with our free admission and, having just reviewed the line-up, we’d be absolutely foolish not to take advantage of it.

The headliners alone are worth the cross country trip – from Kings of Leon to Jay-Z to Dave Matthews Band to Conan O’Brien to even Thursday nighttime tent performers (kind of hard to determine which tent or what time is the headliner that night, if there is one?).
Friday might be the creme de creme headliner with Kings of Leon prepping for a 2 hour set. Not necessarily the creme de creme headliner because of their talent or experience (they go up against Jay-Z and Dave Matthews Band – whom both have many more years of performances under their belt), but because the prospect of new material from a chart topping band that is essentially playing in their backyard is the perfect storm of factors to make for an epic performance. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by guaranteeing magic on Friday night from these Tennessee brothers.
Word on the street is that they will be debuting new material from their forthcoming album and you might expect a guest appearance or two? I mean, it is Bonnaroo.
Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z are the headliners Saturday. What do you think the possibility of the blind legend singing with the self proclaimed king of hip-hop is? I’d put it at more than 50%. The hour long break from Wonder to Jay-Z just seems like a vacuum to large to not be filled with some sort of collaboration at the end of Wonder’s set. Or maybe not? Every break between bands on the main stage at Bonnaroo is one hour. Are we more likely to get another “surprise” Beyonce appearance like she did at Coachella ? Who knows? No matter what, you kind of have to expect big things from the HOVA having just seen his Saturday Night Live performance (that medley was the longest SNL musical performance I’ve ever seen AND it was dope).
Jay-Z will hopefully have a backing band (please be the Dap-Kings or The Roots) and you can expect his new material, classic material and hopefully, for my sake, a handful of gems from Reasonable Doubt. He has two hours to fill and he filled his space quite well at Coachella so I basically expect a repeat, if not superior performance. He has some new and recently hot material coming off The Blueprint 3, a plethora of songs for which the crowd will know at least the hook; he could basically play anything and it is not going to be a poor set. Drawing from his illustrious 10 albums – you can only pray that he plays your favorite song.
Having never seen Stevie Wonder, I’m excited. A huge fan of Musiquarium for years – who doesn’t love the classic material? Festivalgoers, jambanders and funk fans will certainly be urging for a rendition of “Boogie On Reggae Woman”, which, if my memory serves me correctly, was performed by Phish last year at the ‘Roo. “Superstitious” will be another crowd rouser. I’m definitely curious to see what talent joins Wonder on stage and if the energy from the elder performer is maintained or falls below expectations like Bruce’s performance last year. While I love the selection of older artists with classic material everyone leaves, festivals, especially ones with shows that go late into the night like the ‘Roo, need a certain energy to be maintained….especially when the sun is coming down. I’ve got the confidence that Wonder will deliver something spectacular.
Dave Matthews Band is the final night headliner. The closer. Fitting for a band that has been touring for 20 years and just announced that they will be taking 2011 off. Haven’t seen them in years, but DMB always delivers. Even with the passing of their saxophonist a few years back, the addition of Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck & The Flecktones) as the new sax player brought some renewed fervor and I’ve heard the live show is incredible (check @supergoodrca’s review of their performance from 2009 in LA).
As usual Bonnaroo delivered on the headliners – we’ll bring you more in depth information on some of the supporting acts in the days leading up to the festival. Stay tuned to for updates….

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