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The rest of Bonnaroo's can't-miss acts

Class Acts



They're the new kids on campus. Maybe they've only recently released their debut records, maybe they've played very few shows in the States, or maybe they've only recently debuted solo projects — maybe you've never even heard of them. Regardless, they're the ones to keep your eye on.


The three young ladies of Los Angeles-native sister act Haim (pronounced to rhyme with "rhyme" rather than "name") have some pretty impressive credits among them: Individually, they've served as sidewomen for Cee-Lo Green, Julian Casablancas, Jenny Lewis and more. As a unit, the Haim sisters find the middle ground between the classic rock of Fleetwood Mac and the '90s-to-the-bone R&B of acts like TLC — and they do it with top-shelf musicianship and unassuming charisma. Thursday, 7:30 p.m. in That Tent —DPR


White Lung
  • White Lung

With the notable exception of Billy Idol, Bonnaroo's lineup features exactly one self-identifyingly punk band. But damn, if they don't make it count. Canadian thrashers White Lung sound like Be Your Own Pet on speed, ripping through two-minute shred fests with righteous punk fury. Sunday afternoon at Bonnaroo isn't exactly an optimal time for a mosh pit, but if there's one band that could convince us otherwise, it's White Lung. Sunday, 7:45 p.m. at Cafe Where —LC


Man oh man, are we glad The Stepkids are coming through — we've heard they're working on a new record, and the wait is killing us! The 'Kids 2011 self-titled debut for Stones Throw Records is about as close to perfect as latter-day soul gets, a swirling psychedelic head-trip full of shimmering hooks and cosmic grooves. Thursday, 3:15 p.m. at The Other Tent; Friday, noon at The Sonic Stage —SLM


White plays well with others — Mountain Goats, James Wallace, etc. — but his solo debut, Big Inner, shows he has quite a bit to say for himself. With an imagination worthy of Allen Toussaint, White wraps cool soul grooves in full-bodied horn, string and choir arrangements and intriguing experimental touches. Sunday, noon at The Other Tent —ST


Last year, Death Grips flipped their record label the bird and released their second album online for free, then published their execs' protests online for the world to see. If those kinds of Rap Game Black Flag shenanigans aren't reason enough to catch these ultra-underground rappers do their thing, know this: Death Grips will be the most wildly unpredictable show at Bonnaroo this year. Mark it. Saturday, 2:15 p.m. at The Other Tent —LC


One of Bonnaroo's biggest gifts to Middle Tennessee is its annual roster of top-notch international artists who often skip Nashville. This year's standout may be Malian diva Diawara, whose Nonesuch debut Fatou offers a shimmering, burbling take on the West African popular music known as Wassoulou. The genre provides female singers a vessel for hot-button issues such as polygamy — and offers curious listeners a brew that suggests silken jazz, tropical funk and bossa nova stirred into one fizzy sonic cocktail. Friday, 3 p.m. at That Tent —JR


Looking for something off-kilter yet palatable? Genre-defying Brits Django Django take Afro-beat instrumentation into the Space Age with their uniquely styled sense of psychedelic pop, building on a foundation of surf guitar and lockstep percussion with weirdo electronics and Smile-worthy vocal harmonies. Thursday, 9 p.m. at That Tent —LC


Charli XCX
  • Charli XCX

Though British-born dance-pop singer Charli XCX is probably best known for her feature on the Icona Pop song/Snooki & JWoww theme "I Love It," she recently released her major-label debut in the U.S. Her dark, cheeky songs are '90s-influenced, but she's young enough to present them in a way that's not at all cynical. In other words, she's the one Bonnaroo performer who's as excited about Björk as you are. Friday, 2:15 p.m. at The Other Tent —AS


Sweet Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran never died: Apparently they time-warped and fused somehow into Oklahoma-to-Nashville rocker J.D. McPherson. He's a slicked-back cat, all right, but too nervy, electric and present to be a retro novelty act: This is how rockabilly would sound if it happened after classic rock and rap, exciting as the moment it sprang into existence. Imagine Springsteen emerging in '53 rather than '73, and you're on the right track. McPherson's dynamite single "North Side Gal" is just a taste. Thursday, 6 p.m. at That Tent —JR


Indie-rockin' post-punk revivalists Wild Nothing may have formed in a Virginia college town in 2009, but given their hooky dream-pop proclivities, minimalist throw-back college-rock guitar leads, lush synths, frill-and-fill-free metronomic driving beats and singer Jack Tatum's breathy bellow, it's clear the band's heart is in Manchester (U.K.) circa 1986. But Manchester, Tenn., is the place to catch 'em on Sunday. Recommended if you envy John Cusack's record collection in High Fidelity. Sunday, 3 p.m. at The Other Tent —AG


Sunday afternoon at the 'Roo gets lazy and hazy, but Georgia's Baroness, after being sidelined by a bus crash last fall, is especially determined to wake you the hell up. Last year's Yellow & Green features crunchy riffs and searing leads aplenty, but consistently turns up flashes of ambient music, jangle-folk, and other delightful surprises. Sunday, 3:15 p.m. at This Tent —ST


Royal Thunder
  • Royal Thunder

Three things we love: Southern metal, progressive rock and women who belt like the fires of hell are burning in their lungs. Royal Thunder is all three of those things rolled into one. This Atlanta trio's latest album, CVI, is a sonically rich, melodically dynamic juggernaut driven by bassist/banshee Miny Parsonz. Sunday, 8 p.m. at the New Music on Tap Lounge —SLM


The music of singer-guitarist Bombino and his band, from the nomadic Tuareg people of central-Saharan Africa, is tailor-made for Bonnaroo, from slow-burning hypnotic acoustic grooves to some of the most ass-shaking African funk-rock jams you can imagine. If Bombino can turn a crowd of largely indie-rock kids in a Nashville VFW hall into what looked like a scene from Soul Train (as he did in May of last year), imagine what he'll do at Tennessee's biggest dance party as he delivers tunes from this year's Dan Auerbach-produced Nomad. Friday, 1:30 p.m. at That Tent; Friday, 5:45 p.m. at The Sonic Stage —JS


Hands down, the most badass dude to ever play the MPC drum machine. Yes, we said play the sampler — he rocks it like Keith Emerson rocked the organ, if you need a visual — and yes, it is an amazing thing to watch and listen to. The former Dipset producer-cum-solo-performer takes live hip-hop to the next level. Thursday, 6:15 p.m. at The Other Tent —SLM


They're not as green as this year's crop of frosh. Perhaps they've released a couple of albums, or perhaps they're old pros with a fresh project — perhaps you've already heard of them. They've got buzz and critical acclaim, and they're some of 2013's most promising live acts.


Though not quite as big as Paul McCartney yet, when it comes to entertaining the kids — i.e., Bonnaroovians between the ages of 18 (months) and 39 — Seattle rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis are the Bonnaroo act most likely to have the festival's defining 2013 moment when they play the same-sex-supporting hip-hop protest anthem "Same Love" for tens of thousands singing along at the What Stage. Also, Macklemore's 2013 time-capsule hit "Thrift Shop" defines the festival to a tee: Bonnaroo is fucking awesome. Friday, 4:30 p.m. at What Stage; DJ set Friday, 2:30 p.m. at the Silent Disco —AG


Remember when Mumford & Sons played the Which Stage a couple years ago and the crowd was so thick with bodies that it took 20 minutes to walk around them and get anywhere else? Well, expect a similarly space-defying crowd to show up for Alt-J. The Leeds-based outfit's style seems almost genetically engineered for buzzworthiness, combining elements of trip-hop, confessional Brit-icana and arty indie rock, destined to enthrall Lightning 100 types everywhere. Prepare for chaos. Thursday, 11:30 p.m. at This Tent —LC


Last year's good kid, m.A.A.d city propelled Compton's Kendrick Lamar to honest-to-God-rap-star heights — it's hard to go wrong with Dr. Dre serving as executive producer on your sophomore full-length. But even without Dre at his side, Lamar's live show is a compelling affair: With little in the way of bells and whistles, the 25-year-old MC locks in audiences via his insouciant cool, laid-back charisma and genuinely transfixing rhymes. Sunday, 4:30 p.m. at What Stage —DPR


Tame Impala
  • Tame Impala

Aussie songster Kevin Parker is largely responsible for two of the most mesmerizing albums of 2012: Melody's Echo Chamber's eponymous debut, which he produced and collaborated with French-born singer Melody Prochet to make; and Tame Impala's sophomore release Lonerism, an astounding blast of inventive psychedelic rock that he created near singlehandedly. If his band keeps it up, look for Tame Impala's name at the top of festival posters in a few years' time. Sunday, 6 p.m. at The Other Tent —DPR


Action Bronson
  • Action Bronson

You know how you like Ghostface Killah? Action Bronson is just like Ghostface Killah, except channeled through the body of an Albanian-American food critic. Part of Bronson's success is his knack for rolling with wildly talented producers like Party Supplies and The Alchemist, but his stream-of-conscious raps about gourmet cooking and reigning over the Queens rap scene are not to be underestimated. Sunday, 1:30 p.m. at The Other Tent —LC


Fans of Brooklyn shoegazers Beach Fossils are likely already familiar with DIIV, the brainchild of founding guitarist Zachary Cole Smith. DIIV (pronounced "Dive") buries its songs in dream-pop soundscapes, leaning heavily on reverb-coated vocals and sharply composed guitar riffs to cut through the brush. It isn't quite the wall of sound My Bloody Valentine fans might fancy, but DIIV's take on chilled-out shoegaze is rad as hell. Thursday, 4 p.m. at This Tent —LC


First Tyler, the Creator, then Frank Ocean — is Earl Sweatshirt next? The members of L.A. collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA, or just Odd Future) are steadily making a Wu-Tang-esque transition into a series of successful solo careers. Member Earl Sweatshirt's musical contributions have been limited largely due to disciplinary actions from his mother. Now 19 years old and an official grown-ass man, Sweatshirt is rocking the free world on his own recognizance. Friday, 4 p.m. at The Other Tent—SG


Sometime last year, A$AP Rocky overtook Odd Future as the figurehead in the world of Pitchfork-approved indie rap, and we couldn't be happier. Rocky's style is fully realized, skillfully twisting his rhymes around dark, electronic beats from producers like Clams Casino and Skrillex without compromising his voice or vision. Sunday, 7:45 p.m. at The Other Tent —LC


Truth & Soul's house band The Expressions make for a great old-school listen on their own, but they're true upsetters with veteran soul man Lee Fields out front. He brings West Coast cool and sweaty funk, preaching with the passion of a true believer. When he begs you not to go, you're going to want to stick around. Sunday, 12:30 p.m. at What Stage —ST


They're established acts with a few records under their belts. They're not household names like so many of this year's seniors, and maybe you've already caught one or two of them live. But they've made their presence known as influential touring artists, and the 'Roo is their time to shine.


We love rap music, but sometimes it doesn't connect. Like, say, for the better part of this century and the art form's steady slide into consumerist-pop gibberish. Which is exactly why we loved Killer Mike's 2012 collaboration with producer/provocateur El-P, R.A.P. Music. Unrelenting and unstoppable, R.A.P. Music spits hard, drops knowledge and takes no prisoners, so we're doubly stoked to get our hands on the next El-P/KM project, which comes out this month. Thursday, 12:15 a.m. at The Other Tent —SLM


Passion Pit
  • Passion Pit

Turns out festivalgoers who proclaimed hyper-hooky, beloved-by-rookie-hipster, synth-pop-on-steroids juggernaut Passion Pit the Next Big Thing when they made their festival debut in 2009 — kicking shenanigans into gear with an opening-night tent set that thousands shouted, danced and clapped along to in spite of a relentless torrential downpour — weren't totally wrong, as this year the band returns to take its place on the What Stage. With any luck, Mother Nature has warmed up to the Pit's infectious grooves. Sunday, 2:30 p.m. at What Stage —AG

THE xx

The xx
  • The xx

Booking a dour troupe of downcast British minimalists might seem as much a Bonnaroo party foul as putting a song by The xx on the Gatsby soundtrack is an anachronism. In either case, the atmosphere's the thing. Back in 2010, The xx cast a spell over That Tent with a languid midnight set, and something about the waning heat and the boomy expanse of the venue added a lush dimension to the band's gloomy grooves and skeletal vamping. Expect no less this time around. Friday, 11:30 p.m. at Which Stage —SH


Beach House
  • Beach House

Could there exist a more refreshing word amid Bonnaroo's balmy dustbowl than "chillwave"? Seven years ago, the fuzzed-out bedroom pop on their self-titled debut didn't sound much like big festival fodder. With their newest, Bloom, the band has done just that. In terms of both fidelity and song craft, Beach House has blossomed into something substantially more epic and more than adequate for their Saturday evening slot. Saturday, 7 p.m. at This Tent —SG


On last year's True EP, Solange seemed to really hit her stride as singer, writer and channeler of select '80s pop modes. There's a straight-up (if slowed-down) funkiness to cuts like "Don't Let Me Down" — stark ESG-esque bass lines girding her strong, plaintive vocals. And has anyone danced harder to a sadder song than Solange elbow-jamming in front of a dusty storage-container-slash-tailoring-shop in the video for "Losing You"? Saturday, 2:25 p.m. at Which Stage —SH


This year will mark glo-fi pioneer and home-recording cult hero Ariel Pink's first appearance at Bonnaroo. While most of his albums and live shows have been billed as Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (even on Bonnaroo's initial lineup announcement), this one is now listed as just "Ariel Pink." Fans have speculated wildly as to what this will mean: A new band? A solo performance? Guess we'll find out soon enough. Thursday, 7 p.m. at This Tent —SG


And finally, the upperclassmen — the household names, the established acts, and even a legend or two in there. Really, these are mostly the folks who need no introduction. But here are their introductions nonetheless.


MTV's unlikeliest superstars had been pounding the Southern blues-and-boogie circuit almost 15 years before 1983's Eliminator; on last year's somewhat ironically titled La Futura, co-produced by Rick Rubin, they sounded as impervious to time and change as a rugged old saguaro. Today, Frank Beard, Dusty Hill and guitar bomber Billy Gibbons remain the one-point link connecting '60s Texas garage-psych, '70s Southern rock and '80s music-television glitz — and those riffs are keepers. Friday, 11:30 p.m. at This Tent —JR


It's been seven years since the first and last Cat Power appearance at Bonnaroo. The band's oft-troubled main mistress Chan Marshall brought a gajillion-piece band to re-create the retro-soul flavor of 2006's The Greatest for a squinting, sun-soaked day crowd. She's back now to prove she hasn't forgotten you, Bonnaroo, with material from last year's Sun in tow. She just had to write some new songs before coming back. Saturday, 6:15 p.m. at Which Stage —SG


Well, well, well, Bonnaroo, it looks like you've finally figured out a way trick us into the Silent Disco. (Which puts you on par with that girl who said she had some m ... uh ... she had a jar of mayonnaise to share with us.) But yes, one of the greatest DJs of all time in the Silent Disco. Well played. Thursday, 12:30 a.m. at The Silent Disco —SLM


Just a man, an accordion and a dream — that's Weird Al, whose oeuvre will one day be revered for the ongoing pop-history project it is. Through it all, he's managed to address issues of everlasting importance: rocky road ice cream, Star Wars, bologna. Factor in his rep as a peerless live act, and this may be the festival's safest bet. There's no danger you might hear "Say, Say, Say" or "The Last DJ," anyway. Saturday, midnight at The Other Tent —JR


Nasty Nas up in your area, about to cause mass hysteria! Bonnaroo alum and contender for World's Dopest MC, Nas is the rarest of all things: a hip-hop legend with a sure-shot live show. And we say this having seen him, like, a bajillion times — his band slays, and he's got hits for days. Make sure you wear your party-waders because you will be hip-deep in dopeness. Saturday, 5 p.m. at What Stage —SLM


The My Morning Jacket frontman recently visited Music City, playing a mix of songs from his chillingly rad solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God along with some MMJ favorites. James always puts on a great show whether alone or with the band, but recent dates on his solo tour have featured Jacket cuts, songs from James' side project Monsters of Folk, and even a handful of saxophone solos from the wooly one himself. Friday, 7 p.m. at This Tent —CW


One of rock's most soulful musicians, one of the (two) top names in blue-eyed soul, a founding Meter and the reigning champs of New Orleans jazz? At midnight? After we've been drinking for 72 hours straight? Seriously? How could we not? Saturday, midnight at This Tent —SLM


You might not think erudite, introspective, post-punk sonic craftsmen The National, who are currently touring behind last month's Trouble Will Find Me, would make for an especially high-energy, festival-worthy performance. Well, you'd think wrong. Their sun-scorched afternoon set at Bonnaroo 2010 saw frontman Matt Berninger swilling glass after glass of wine, crowd surfing, wrestling with his mic stand and leading the crowd in triumphant shout-alongs. Not bad for a bunch of brainy Brooklyn bookworms. Sunday, 6:30 p.m. at What Stage —DPR


No, it's not the Fifth Dimension missing one if its members, but it is a can't-miss set for jazz fans and guitar geeks. At 70, McLaughlin is still one of the most mind-blowing ax-men out there, and with his latest band, he's returned to the incendiary fusion that typified his heyday with Mahavishnu Orchestra. The other players are pretty great too, particularly Indian drummer Ranjit Barot, one of the most phenomenal percussionists you will ever see. Friday, 6:30 p.m. at That Tent —JS


Byrne has a new approach to making music every time we see him, and his collaboration with Annie "St. Vincent" Clark and a humongous brass band is a consistently excellent example, both musically and as a stage show. Every nanosecond is planned, but the mix of new and old material is solid and refreshing. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. at Which Stage —ST


Michael Gira & Co. may have broken the Billboard Hot 200 with 2012's The Seer, but don't take that as a sign that they've somehow gone commercial. The New York noise mavens have mutated since emerging from the vaunted and vitriolic No Wave scene of the early '80s, becoming one of the most revered acts in avant-garde music. Sunday, 5 p.m. at This Tent —SLM


Dwight Yoakam
  • Dwight Yoakam

After stints as a damn fine heavy (in Sling Blade and Panic Room) and a cowboy-noir auteur, Yoakam has come 'round full circle to his '80s club roots playing hardcore Bakersfield country to kids raised on punk and indie rock. Word is his current shows are absolute barn-burners, socked home by a band that nails every lick of "Long White Cadillac" and "Guitars, Cadillacs and Hillbilly Music." OK, so we don't envy anyone playing opposite Björk — but if you've never heard Yoakam's stone-country music live, you indeed have not seen it all. —JR


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