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Bonnaroo 2018: Festival Lineup Review

Updated on February 5, 2018
Ty Humble profile image

Ty has been attending Bonnaroo for 3 years now, and the trend will only continue.

History of Roo

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is an annual festival held at Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tennessee. The festival always lands in the month of June, and since it’s debut in 2002, Roo has been gaining a massive following with the attendance surpassing 80,000 in 2015. Although Bonnaroo is not just about music, it is hard not to go for that sole reason. My first year in 2016 was jam-packed with acts like J Cole, Macklemore, Two Door Cinema Club, Chris Stapleton, and the two biggest performances of the entire weekend: Pearl Jam and Dead & Company (formerly the Grateful Dead). The following year was arguably even better with a stacked top half of the lineup. The people who put it together did a great job of balancing out new pop music with rap and even a solid lineup for Rock n Roll fans. The lineup has also had strong depth to it in years before I attended with acts like Paul McCartney, Eminem, and Jack White. That being said, some found themselves a tad disappointed when this years lineup was revealed. Although many of the bands were unknown even to me, if you take the time to listen you can see the true depth and potential of the lineup which at first-glance lacks enough big name acts to attract as much attention as before in previous years.


As previously stated, the lineup lacks an “attractive” look, however, it does have Eminem returning from his hiatus which is really what helps keep the lineup above water. Other notable bands are The Killers, Muse, Future, Bon Iver, and Bassnectar. When I first read over the lineup, I was most definitely unhappy with the small number of big names at the top of the poster, but once I listened through a lineup mixtape, I began finding many new artists who I plan on seeing. Country/folk artists like Sturgill Simpson and Tyler Childers help bring some of the southern sound that so many Tennessee natives (and surrounding states) are used to. The two formerly mentioned, along with bluegrass legends Old Crow Medicine Show, will surely put on shows that will make any southerner happy. Where the lineup lacks more than anything is the rap category. Previous years have showcased as many as five well-known rappers, and this years lineup shows a cutback in that category (even if the biggest act is a rapper). Still yet, Em is back and hopefully he brought Slim Shady with him, Future is very liable and able to bring out a number of guests from Kendrick, to Drake, to 21 Savage. These two, along with Playboi Carti who is known to have ties wit A$AP Mob, and the up-and-coming self-described “boy band” BROCKHAMPTON, will bring some well-needed ecstatic performances. The rock/indie category is really where critics of the lineup fail to see the depth and talent that some of the smaller bands have. The Killers and Muse, although I’m not a huge fan of the latter, are headliners and very well-known around the world, but smaller bands like Broken Social Scene, Pidgeons Playing Ping Pong, and Spafford provide a nice change with tasteful new takes on the genre of Rock, while also providing some very nice instrumental jams that could bring the inner DeadHead out in anyone. Other notable acts that will be at this year’s festival are Sheryl Crow, Khalid, The Revivalists, and Anderson Paak.


As much as I hate to do it, I must also provide the negatives of this year’s festival which could be very impactful to some. For starters, The Rock headliners are not near as good as years before. Even though I am a big Killers fan, I (along with many others) was banking on a rock legend equivalent to the likes of Pearl Jam or RHCP, both of which have been there before. Everything from Fleetwood Mac to The Eagles to Radiohead were rumored, but then the lineup released and we were left with The Killers and Muse to compete with the legends of the past. A big reason for the festival still being good is that Eminem is making an appearance, but is it really that good of a thing? Of course, everyone and their brother (almost) loves Em’s old stuff. Slim Shady had us all rolling in laughter while at the same time thinking “Damn, he has balls and he can rap really well.” As he got older and changed, so did his music, which led us to his most recent project, Revival. This new album had A LOT of people upset and maybe just maybe it is bleeding over into the anticipation people have for seeing him live. With rumors of Jay-z and Kendrick surfacing before the lineup dropped, it makes one think that perhaps this wasn’t Em’s year to headline a major festival. The lineup as a whole is just plain not as good as previous years, and a lot of people feel that way. However, this does not mean that it won’t be one of the most fun times you have had or will ever have in your life.

© 2018 Ty Humble


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