Last year's Bonnaroo lineup announcement was not met so favorably here on County Grind. Mostly this was due to the headliners being unworthy of their positions at the top of the bill. It's not that the acts themselves -- Eminem, Arcade Fire, Widespread Panic, and Buffalo Springfield -- aren't great, but none of them had the uniting power that it takes to be a stellar headliner at Bonnaroo.
This year, the festival has completely redeemed itself. Radiohead, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Phish, and the Beach Boys all have the potential to captivate most of the 60,000 or so attendees all at once. Especially Phish, if there is good acid circulating.
Though not everyone owns rare Radiohead vinyl from Scandinavia, has a RHCP tattoo, will follow Phish around the U.S. for the rest of the summer, or has a shrine to Brian Wilson in his home, within the context of the festival, it ought to be easy for folks to go along with these bands.
With the exception of Phish, all the headliners have plenty of recognizable material. Nonfans will find themselves singing along with the folks who do indeed have the band logo tattoos. In the case of Phish, nobody needs to be familiar with anything; they just need to be open to spacing out and enjoying themselves. Heck, they may even notice that those dudes are amazing musicians.
The rest of the lineup provides all the elements to make for a great 'Roo:
The second-tier acts are solid
Included here we have Bon Iver, the Avett Brothers, the Shins, the Roots, and Fiest. This is where the headliners from last year belonged.
There are interesting and rare collaboration projects
The Word and Spectrum Road both feature Fort Lauderdale native John Medeski along with some serious players. Also in this category is the very pregnant Superjam, which always has the potential to surprise the brains right out of festgoers' sunburned heads.
Outside of these categories are tons of acts covering a wide spectrum of genres
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There will be much exploring and discovering by all attendees eager for new sounds. Lots of the band names will be already familiar to some, and lots won't. All of them, though, are in position to display their greatness and connect with new fans. Many breakout sets have happened at Bonnaroos past. This will be a smorgasbord.
Bonnaroo 2012 with Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, the Beach Boys, and more. June 7-10 in Manchester, Tennessee. Tickets cost $234 to $1,399. Click here.