Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z will headline the 2010 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. As previously reported, the 9th annual festival will return to Manchester, TN from June 10-13, 2010. The festival’s complete lineup will feature over 125 bands and over 20 comedians performing throughout 13 stages over four days. Other marquee acts scheduled to appear include Weezer, The Flaming Lips, The Dead Weather, Phoenix, John Fogerty, Jimmy Cliff, Tenacious D, The National and The Avett Brothers.
“The process for booking Bonnaroo is almost year round at this point,” festival co-founder Ashley Capps says. “We first broached the subject of Stevie Wonder several years ago and certainly Jay-Z has been on our list for a long, long time as well. Especially on the headliner end of things, there’s conversation that gets started, and in a few instances it might take three or four years before it really happens.”
Many of this year’s biggest acts are no strangers to Bonnaroo. Dave Matthews Band headlined Bonnaroo in 2005 and the band’s namesake anchored the festival with his Dave Matthews & Friends group in 2004. In 2004, Kings of Leon debuted at the festival in That Tent, graduated to the Which Stage in 2005 and, finally, the What Stage in 2007 (drummer Nathan Followill met his future wife, singer Jessie Baylin, while attending the festival as a guest in 2006). Headlining was the next step.
“Kings of Leon are the first act to ever work their way up the ranks from a tent to the headline position,” Capps says. “We talked to the Kings of Leon about playing last year, and I think everyone jointly decided that it would be better to wait. I know that was certainly the band’s perspective, so that conversation was going on for quite some time. This is going to be one of their only shows this year.”
The Flaming Lips, who plan to cover Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety with the help of Stardeath and White Dwarfs, played late-night shows at Bonnaroo in 2003 and 2007. The group’s 2003 set helped introduce the band to an entirely new audience and make the alt-rock vets favorites on the jamband festival circuit. The performance also included a few Dark Side songs. “We did that as an encore—that was the first time we played Bonnaroo,” Coyne recently told Relix/Jambands.com about the Lips’ Pink Floyd covers at Bonnaroo in 2003. “The way we played those songs at Bonnaroo in 2003 sounded more like Pink Floyd than our interpretation of Pink Floyd. I think you have a dilemma when you play a song in front of people that they don’t recognize—it is hard for them to really get into it. The way we’re doing Dark Side of the Moon now is more us doing our own take on it.”
Capps says the band’s decision to play Dark Side this year, “evolved from a discussion about what they wanted to do at the festival. Ultimately it was Wayne who came to us saying, ‘I want to do Dark Side of the Moon at midnight.’ And we’re like, ‘We can’t argue with that.’”
This year’s lineup also boasts Norah Jones’ first Bonnaroo appearance since the festival’s inaugural year, debut appearances by such diverse names as LCD Soundsystem, Tori Amos and Jeff Beck and the return of festival mainstay Michael Franti & Spearhead (on the heels of his first Top 40 hit). In addition, The National will play the festival for the first time since its Thursday showcase in 2007. Capps is particularly excited about the group’s return, having spent time curating his upcoming Big Ears festival with National guitarist Bryce Dessner.
“The National are truly fantastic—I’ve been lucky enough to hear the early stages of some songs off their new album, which will be released this May,” Capps says. “They are really adept at mixing all these different styles.”
Several past performers will return with new bands. Having played Bonnaroo with The White Stripes in 2007 and The Raconteurs in 2008, Nashville resident Jack White will bring his current project The Dead Weather to Bonnaroo this year. New festival-circuit favorite Chromeo returns this year with a seemingly strange-bedfellow: Daryl Hall.
“Daryl does the Live from Daryl’s House program on his website,” Capps explains. “He did this one episode with Chromeo so we thought, ‘Let’s see if we can get them to do it live at Bonnaroo and they were both extremely enthusiastic about it.”
Also trekking to Coffee Country this summer: indie sensations The xx, Miike Snow, Dan Deacon Ensemble, Tokyo Police Club and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros; hip-hop star Wale; electronic music wiz Deadmau5 and geek-rockers They Might Be Giants. Weezer, whose drummer Brian Bell lives near Capps in Knoxville, is one of the first arena-size ‘90s American alternative bands to appear at the festival since it began in 2002.
In addition to Dave Matthews Band and Spearhead, Bonnaroo will also honor its roots in live, improvisational music with appearances by Les Claypool (past performances: 2002, 2004-2006, 2008), The Disco Biscuits (2002, 2006, 2008), Medeski, Martin & Wood (2003-2004, 2006), Blues Traveler (2006), Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (2008), Lotus, Bassnectar and recent Grammy winners Zac Brown Band (2006, 2009). The latter band, in particular, has grown with Bonnaroo over the years: the country-jam outfit debuted at Bonnaroo in the intimate Troo Music Lounge in 2006 and moved to That Tent in 2009.
“Every now and then we break our little rule about not having bands two years in a row, just because of what happened the year before was so exceptional,” Capps admits. “Zac Brown is one of those bands.”
Phoenix is another band that will return to the festival for the second year in a row. “Their show last year was one of the big surprises of the festival,” Capps continues. “They just took Bonnaroo by storm so we wanted to have them back.”
In many ways, Bonnaroo paved the way for retro and roots-oriented indie rock bands that appeal to hipsters, hippies and folkies alike. Past performers like The Black Keys (2004, 2007), Dr. Dog (2005, 2007), The Avett Brothers (2006, 2008) and Calexico (2004) should all receive welcome homecomings. M. Ward, who performed in 2005, will return with She & Him, his project with Zoey Deschanel
“About 1,000 people were there and 30 to 40% knew the words to our songs,” Seth Avetts said of his band’s first appearance at the festival. “But for a few months after that show people everywhere told us that they saw us there. We were definitely building towards that place.”
Likewise, the festival will continue to pay tribute to bluegrass, country and American roots music with the likes of comedian-turned-banjo player Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers, Kris Kristofferson, Hot Rize, Jamey Johnson and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Chris Thile, who first played Bonnaroo in 2003 as a member of Nickel Creek, will perform with The Punch Brothers, while John Prine will return after a five-year absence. Having played the festival in 2004 and 2007—and a surprise appearance with Bright Eyes in 2006—David Rawlings and Gillian Welch return to perform as Dave Rawlings Machine.
“Though we don’t have a bluegrass tent like we did last year, we do have something of a bluegrass theme with Steve Martin and Hot Rize,” Capps says. “We will also be announcing an additional theme tent in the coming weeks.”
Building on a tradition that has included performances by prog rock and metal titans Tool, Metallica and Mastadon, GWAR will perform at Bonnaroo for the first time. Clutch returns with its unique brand of psychedelic blues and hard rock having played what they felt was one their biggest shows ever 2007. “When I got up there and I saw how many people were out there, I just about shit myself,” lead singer Neil Fallon told Relix this past October. “That was one of the most memorable and greatest shows of all our 20 years.” Hard rock and punk outfits like The Melvins, Dropkick Murphys and Against Me! should also appeal to fans with harder edged music.
Bonnaroo will announce the lineup for its comedy tent, guest speakers and other themed areas in the coming weeks. Past comedians include: Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon, Lewis Black, Aziz Ansari, John Oliver, Flight of the Concords, David Cross and Fred Armisen to Jim Norton and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
2010 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival Confirmed Artists:
Dave Matthews Band
Kings of Leon
The Flaming Lips with Stardeath and White Dwarfs perform “Dark Side of the Moon”
The Dead Weather
Damian Marley & Nas
Michael Franti & Spearhead
The Avett Brothers
Zac Brown Band
The Black Keys
Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers
She & Him
The Disco Biscuits
Daryl Hall & Chromeo
Medeski Martin & Wood
Dan Deacon Ensemble
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
They Might Be Giants
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Dave Rawlings Machine
Mayer Hawthorne and the County
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
The Temper Trap
Cross Canadian Ragweed
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Tokyo Police Club
The Entrance Band
Mumford & Sons
Here We Go Magic