Bonnaroo 2012: Rumors, Predictions and Educated Guesses

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Unless this is the first time you’ve surfed onto the Internet in days, you’ve no doubt noticed that Coachella unveiled its righteously impressive 2012 lineup earlier this week. With Bonnaroo roughly a month away from following suit, it’s high time we start speculating as to, and commenting on, what artists we (and others) predict will take to the front lines of heat, hippies, hipsters, humidity and hedonism this June in nearby Manchester June 7-10.

The Coachella lineup pretty much rules. It boasts The Black Keys, Radiohead and Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg as headliners. Jeff Mangum, M83, St. Vincent, Real Estate and Wild Flag round out the roster of appearing indie fare. Afrojack, Amon Tobin, DJ Shadow and Justice will be on hand to entertain the pill poppers. And the festival’s ever-eclectic, when-pigs-fly host of reunited acts on-bill includes At the Drive-In, Atari Teenage Riot, Refused, fIREHOSE, Madness, Mazzy Star and Pulp. That’s right. Fucking Pulp!

Can Bonnaroo compete with that?

Sure it can. Well, probably not the Pulp part. With a Britpop cache and the pasty complexion to compliment it, Jarvis Cocker isn’t going to just brave the Tennessee Summer sun simply for the pleasure of common people like us. I’m guessing it costs a pretty penny to get Pulp on a festival bill, and I don’t think they’re enough of a “Bonnaroo band” to justify such as expense for promoters. I’d say the same line of logic likely applies to The Stone Roses, who are conspicuously absent from the Coachella lineup. The band kicks off their reunion tour in the other Manchester — the one in the United Kingdom — in June. Maybe Ian Brown & Co. will get confused, accidentally end up in Manchester, Tenn. and say, “Wha!? Wha’ppen? Wha’eva … this’ll do.” It doesn’t hurt to dream, does it?

Perennially lauded Madchester and Britpop hatchet-buriers aside, other marquee A-listers of all genres have reunions and/or regular tours on the books for 2012, and it’s reasonable to assume Bonnaroo organizers are bound to snag some of them to rock your fuckin’ faces off. Also, as par for the course, it’s inevitable that a healthy handful of acts adorning the Coachella bill are also likely ‘Roo contenders, too.

In a post put up on Monday, the staff over at Hidden Track has trolled the thousands of posts made on the Inforoo message boards — the hangout for armchair Bonnaroo promoters and lineup prognosticators. Additionally, famed fictional Official Bonnaroo Experience Guru and Cluemaster Gary Chardonnay started dropping his cryptic, oft-accurate and long-loved #rooclues via Twitter last week. Among the names dropped by and in connection with those aforementioned sources are Prince, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Radiohead, Fleet Foxes, Phish, the reunited Beach Boys, Mogwai, Cage the Elephant, 311 (gag), Marilyn Manson (Yes, really), The Black Keys, The Black Lips, Faith No More, Foster the People and The Alabama Shakes.

On the flipside, according to Hidden Track, bands that have unequivocally denied they’ll make Bonnaroo this year include Levon Helm, M83, Animal Collective, moe., Jane’s Addiction and Drive-by Truckers. So, what 2012 road-bound rockers do you think we should reasonably assume are realistic contenders for Rootardation this summer?

Here’s some food for thought:

The Rolling Stones
Let’s start by aiming high. The biggest, bangin’-est and oldest band in rock celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Founding bassist Bill Wyman has reportedly rejoined the band after a now quarter-century-long, self-imposed, uh, exile. And Charlie Watts recently told The BBC that he thinks it would be “lovely” to do some shows in 2012. Do you think Charlie has ever even heard of Bonnaroo before? I doubt it. Still, jurassic jokes aside, I think the Stones’ stadium-sized rock ’n’ roll circus spectacular of rehashed hits, fireworks and backup singers would rule the 'Roo. I mean, not as hard as Springsteen did, but at least as hard as Stevie Wonder did.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Speaking of Springsteen, The Boss and his loyal E Street backers are set to mourn the passing of Clarence Clemons with a 2012 tour. Perhaps they’ll make a grand return to Tennessee in an effort to reclaim the What Stage. Sure, they did that as recently as 2009 and it’s unlikely (i.e., total wishful thinking on my part), but a European tour itinerary does have the band headlining a handful of summer festivals, in addition to having a couple key days off in early June, so who knows?

Paul McCartney
Macca has headlined (duh) Glastonbury and Coachella. I’d say a Bonnaroo appearance is inevitable if the festival can afford him. (Hint: they can.) And since, among music fans, The Beatles catalog that dominates his set list is about the most universally loved catalyst of joy and enlightenment this side of marijuana, let’s hope that 2012 is Bonnaroo's year to let it be a main-stage soundtrack.

Prince
OK, this one pops up every year, and it’s no wonder why: Prince is destined to not only play Bonnaroo, but to deliver the single greatest performance the festival has ever seen and will ever see. Even festival-goers who’ve killed off their last remaining brain cell know that a Prince appearance in Manchester is a no-brainer. But when? It would truly be a tragedy for the What Stage to go another year without a purple makeover. I defy you to disagree with me.

Radiohead
People still won’t shut the fuck up about how epic Radiohead’s 2006 headlining appearance was. I’d say that’s a mandate to bring the band back for an encore performance. To-Yo & Co. kick off their 2012 world tour in Miami, Fla., at the end of next month and, at press time, their itinerary has the month of June wide open. Ice age cuh-min’, ice age cuh-min’.

Coldplay
I suppose Coldplay at Bonnaroo is bound to happen eventually. There are worse things that could happen. Coldplay is actually awesome live. But if they end up on the bill in a year when Radiohead might, but doesn’t, I’ll cut someone. Especially because, just like each of their previous outings, Coldplay’s 2012 tour will feature the band playing Radiohead’s The Bends in its entirety, every night.

Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg
With the exception of the infamous 2008 Kanye hiccup, hip-hop acts have gone over almost as well as jam bands do at Bonnaroo. Jay-Z, Eminem and Big Boi all killed it at the festival in the last couple years. And Lil Wayne wasn’t anything close to the disaster nay-sayers were anticipating it would be. Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg — the goddamn Simon and Garfunkel of gangsta rap — are playing Coachella, which means they might play other big-money, high-profile festivals. And, like the dankest chronic, Snoop and Dre would be perfect — I repeat, PERFECT — for Bonnaroo.

Drake
Come on, would it really surprise you?

Madonna
This year Her Madgesty is slated to sacrifice herself on the American-as-apple-pie alter that is the nation’s favorite annual telecast and train wreck: The Super Bowl Halftime Show. She’s also plotting a massive world tour that I’m guessing will probably resemble a traveling, stadium-sized version of Cirque du Soleil set to the sounds of songs from the singer’s forthcoming album and reworked, barely recognizable versions of her ’80s and ’90s classics. I suppose that could compliment a Bonnaroo appearance from my old bro Ellis D. Trails. Also, maybe Madonna has gotten good enough at guitar to participate in this year’s Super Jam?

Lady Gaga
And speaking of Madonna … Lady Gaga is a rumored 2012 'Rooer. And that’s a good thing, because she’d totally kill it.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers
RHCP at Bonnaroo? Meh.

Black Sabbath
Despite reality television exposing Ozzy Osbourne as perhaps the most non-threatening, doddering ol’ lovable Prince of Darkness the world has ever seen, the haunting tones of a once-again-reunited Black Sabbath might prove a tad too frightening for festival goers trying to synthetically master their own reality. But I doubt it would be any scarier than Eminem’s hours-long main-stage mean-mugging from last year. In related news — and bad news at that — it came out Monday that Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has been diagnosed with lymphoma. According to the Los Angeles Times, the diagnosis reportedly forced the band to pull out of Coachella right before the festival announced its lineup. However, the reunited Sabbath's previously announced appearances — which include stops at Download and other European festivals — are still on. I wonder how that all bodes for Bonnaroo?

Phish
Of course. Let’s just hope that if it happens, they stick to making only one appearance this year … but let’s also just hope that it doesn’t happen.

Dave Matthews Band
I suppose Bonnaroo always has to have some kind of Sunday night closing headliner for the hacky sack crowd. I’ll be gone by then, so Dave, The Dead, The 'Spread, Phish, Further, Vampire Weekend — same diff.

Billy Joel
Yeah, I know. “What!?” A friend texted me yesterday to ask if I’d heard anything about a Bonnaroo appearance from The Piano Man. I haven’t. And I fully hope I don't hear mention, or especially confirmation, of one again. I just can’t picture BJ at Bonnaroo going over well at all. I mean, can you picture hearing “Allentown” or “We Didn’t Start the Fire” or, God forbid, “Captain Jack” while peaking? It would be a crime against humanity.

Eagles
There’s apparently some chatter on Inforoo of an Eagles appearance, and I don’t mean Eagles of Death Metal. I wouldn't joke about this. So ... Eagles? At Bonnaroo? Umm, no.

Fleet Foxes
While the fresh-faced Eagles of Indie Rock have Tweeted that they won’t make festival appearances this summer, I could see them making an exception for Bonnaroo. Their debut at the festival is long overdue. It would totally be this year’s Mumford and Sons moment, but less annoying, not to mention better.

Sinead O’Conner
The volatile Holy Priestess of Irish Indignation is attempting a comeback tour this year. How do you think that would go over at Bonnaroo?

The Black Keys
If this happened it would make for the band’s third year in a row at The ‘Roo, which I think makes the prospect rather unlikely. Although the duo has been on an accelerated upward trajectory over that time — they just put out their biggest record, are appearing at Coachella for the second year in a row, are about as ready-made for festivals as a pair of flip-flops and currently have no Nashville date slated on their 2012 itinerary of arena dates. So I wouldn’t roole them out completely.

The Beach Boys
Not to go all classic-rock curmudgeon on y’all, but shouldn’t they have just called the recent Beach Boys 50th anniversary reunion tour the Doddering Brian Wilson Appears With Mike Love’s State Fair Spectacular Instead of Spectacular Backing Band Tour? If this happens, I’m gonna go into it expecting the worst but with hopes of walking away pleasantly surprised, and I suggest you do the same. Great Stage Park is not a recording studio.

Marilyn Manson
This would have to take place in a tent, right? It could be the Gwar-at-Bonnaroo moment of 2012, or at the very least the Musical Morbid Curiosity Moment of Bonnaroo 2012. Shit, I’d probably watch it. Would you?

Die Antwoord
Everyone’s favorite dildo-wielding, grotesque-by-design South African hip-hop export has a new album and world tour on the horizon, and bringing them to Bonnaroo makes as much sense as bringing ibuprofen to Bonnaroo. Fingers. Fucking. Crossed.

Neil Diamond
Hey, the invincible Neil Diamond is set to tour stateside this year and, let’s face it, the legendary jazz singer could come to Manchester and rule the 'Roo harder than Daryl Hall. Let’s hope this happens. It would be awesome.

Kate Bush
Hey, Kate Bush is in the throes of a full-on comeback. It could happen. And if fucking should happen.

The Foo Fighters
They’ve never played Bonnaroo. And the fact that they still haven’t means they definitely might, right? Do you care?

Thomas Dolby
Yup, Thomas Dolby — perhaps the MTV era’s most prestigious one-hit wonder — is about to release an album, and tour the world in a self-made, interactive traveling time capsule. We all know the sun can be blinding at Bonnaroo. So why not the science, too?

So, who am I forgetting? The Who perhaps? Roger Waters and Van Halen have Nashville dates booked, so I’m not including them. Loutallica? Even at Bonnaroo that bullshit wouldn’t fly ... I don't think. Then, of course, there is the usual cast of Pitchfork-tipped potential-tent players like Girls, Gang Gang Dance, James Blake, Bon Iver, Atlas Sound, tUnE-yArDs, Toro Y Moi, St. Vincent, Wild Flag — each is a definite possibility. Same goes for any electronic, dubstep and DJ artists you see on the Coachella poster.

Stay tuned for more roomers, educated predictions and (eventually) a bona fide Bonnaroo 2012 lineup.

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