I am finally taking the plunge, and road tripping to Manchester, Tennessee for Bonnaroo 2012. The last few years I have debated on whether or not to partake in this hippie nonsensical music fest, always coming up with excuses like, “I don’t have the money,” “it’s too far,” or “can I really go four days without showering!?!” But I finally decided to spend the cash, get a group of guys willing to split the drive and stock up on enough baby wipes that would make the octo-mom proud. It didn’t hurt that the lineup is absolutely bomb (although I would have liked to see one true hip-hop headliner ala Drake, considering Lil Wayne, Eminem and Jay-Z performed in previous years). So, I give you my top ten acts to see at Bonnaroo 2012.
Before we start let me tell you who just missed the list. Big names that I’m sorry did not make the cut include The Shins and Ludacris, while they are not on my top ten, I wouldn’t be surprised if I found myself going H.A.M. at the Luda set or kicking back, listening to The Shins. A few names I am not sorry to leave off my top ten include The Beach Boys, Phish and Bon Iver. This may be like taking shots at the crown but I just never got into the Beach Boys. I understand that Pet Sounds revolutionized pop music but it’s just not for me. Maybe if they were in their prime it would be a different story but I have no desire to see a few old guys struggle through songs that I don’t even particularly like. Phish, sorry but I don’t smoke pot and while I hear they put on a great show I highly doubt I’ll find myself wandering over to their tent. Finally Bon Iver or how I know them, The Most Pretentious Indie Band on The Scope of the Earth. I really tried hard to like these guys, I mean Kanye cosigned them and loves Justin Vernon, but I just couldn’t do it. A few real deep sleepers, that missed the list include The Temper Trap, fun and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. You know The Temper Trap from (500) Days of Summer, you know fun from the Chevy commercial and you probably don’t know Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. but I enjoy them. Okay now that we have that out of the way, without further ado my top ten.
The Pumped Up Kicks Group
10. Foster The People
Pumped Up Kicks is an awesome song, arguably one of the best songs of 2011. The rest of their album doesn’t come close to Pumped Up Kicks, but it is okay. I look at it like this, as long as they play Pumped Up Kicks I come out ahead.
The Sleepers Group
9. Two Door Cinema Club
These guys seem to find their way on any indie rock Pandora station I create. Related artists on their Spotify profile include Phoenix and Vampire Weekend and they do well to fill that electro pop type that fits perfect with the summer. I envision this to be a pretty awesome scene and a show I will definitely attend.
8. Gary Clark Jr.
This guy I really like. I first saw him on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon when he sat in with The Roots. If you like old school blues guitar this is your guy. Bright Lights is the song you want to look up if you don’t know him. I remember first listening to his EP and after the first half he had me thinking, Jack White has some company, what keeps him from being higher on this list is the second half of the album seemed a bit uneven.
7. The Kooks
Another band I discovered thanks to Pandora. I love their album Inside In/ Inside Out, it’s one of those albums I can listen to without one skip and peaks at the perfect times. Unfortunately that album came out in 2006 and their last two albums have been just ehh.
Personal Favorite Group
6. Childish Gambino
Not to sound like “that guy” but I liked this guy before everyone else. I remember reading on some random blog that the black guy on Community rapped. Already a fan of Community I checked it out thinking this will probably be terrible. It wasn’t. I listened to a few songs, each of which sampled a prominent indie band like Grizzly Bear or Animal Collective (this is also how I discovered Sleigh Bells, so thank you Donald Glover) and really liked it. He kind of reminded me of Drake or Wayne but was so totally different and wasn’t trying to rip them off either. A few days later he released the Culdasac which I listened to a lot that summer. I did not tell anyone about him simply because I didn’t know if he was actually good (full disclosure I have the John Cena rap album on my Ipod). Then a few months later he drops an EP and all of sudden people started talking about him. He could be higher on this list but I’ve already seen him live once.
5. Little Dragon
I discovered Little Dragon thanks to Drake, who remixed one of their songs. When I found out the lead singer was Japanese it blew my mind. She has such a soulful voice it kind of reminded me of Erykah Badu or something. Oh and by the way their Swedish, so mix those R&B type vocals with a synthy pop background and you get something really unique and all around dope.
4. Young The Giant
I don’t quite remember how I came about this band but I liked them almost immediately. Just imagine an indie rock band and you’ll come up with them. They have a bunch of really catchy songs on their debut self titled album. They also have the distinction of being the Pandora station that I listen to most nowadays.
I Guess I Gotta See Them Group
While I am not a huge fan (I don’t even know if I can name five songs) they are arguably the most famous rock band of my generation. I do like some of their early stuff, but sort of tuned out their most recent releases. Here’s the thing though, they are the main headliners and even if I am not their biggest fan I would be an idiot to pass up an opportunity to see them live at Bonnaroo.
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers
The White Whale Group
1. The Roots
Like most suburban youths, in college I went through my Roots phase. It seems like everyone in college goes through a Roots phase, when you turn your back on mainstream, embrace social consciousness and dabble in old school. I still listen to The Roots quite often, but not nearly as much as I did in my college days. I have been trying to catch The Roots live for about four years now; I have only seen them in very abridged sets, but never a full show. I even got to say “what’s up” to Quest once (he responded with a head nod). In the abbreviated performances I’ve seen, you can absolutely tell that Black Thought is a quintessential mic controller, who can command the audience, factor in the live band that routinely utilizes funk and soul and you have a winner. WE ARE THE ULTIMATE….ROCK ROCKIN IT.
UPDATE 5/10/2012: Little Dragon has eclipsed Young the Giant, Alabama Shakes replaces Two Door Cinema Club, Radiohead moves past Red Hot Chili Peppers.