My Thoughts on the Bonnaroo Lineup

Another year come and gone, and here we are at the beginning of February discussing the Bonnaroo Music Festival, just as we did in years past…

Ever since I’ve been following this, even before I had started Live Music Blog, I got super excited about who they’d announce for this music festival. I remember reading that first year lineup and thinking, “wow, it’s like what Woodstock ’99 was meant to be…” and I’m sure there were others that had a similar sentiment.

This year was particularly exciting for me as it appears we had a small jump on posting the leaked lineup, which in turn led to the highest traffic day ever on Live Music Blog. I don’t want to give specifics, but we generally had three times our daily average show up just yesterday — even given that Monday had broken our previous traffic record as well. Quite exciting, indeed.

Overall, though — the past two years have brought changes to the festival that always seem to have everyone up in arms. Superfly, the festival promoters, have decided that they want their music festival to have a larger, broader national appeal. Nobody could argue this fact given the elephant headliners in the room for this year’s lineup – The Police, Tool, and Widespread Panic. To me, these are three bands that stand as pillars anchoring the festival to three distinct sets of concert-goers — the nostalgia crowd, the mainstream and/or younger crowd (depending on your definition), and the road-warrior jamband fan crowd.

But this is the problem most people have with the festival — they want it to be ONE crowd. They want it to be jambands only, as if that was the original intention of the festival from the beginning (which it most clearly was not). They worry that Tool fans are going to mix negatively with jamband fans. Goth vs. hippie. Etc. etc.

This has to be one of the most exciting music festival lineups I’ve ever seen and I commend Superfly for putting this together. Every year, they successfully question the status quo programmed into all of these distinct crowds that they hope to attract, and every year people discuss the merits and pitfalls associated with such a grand experiment.

And want to know what — every year it goes off without a hitch with critics and fans far and away praising the festival. I expect nothing but the same for this year…