Let me first say that I absolutely love Bonnaroo. My first year was in 2013 where I saw the best live show anyone will ever see, Sir Paul McCartney. The following year I got engaged there, that’s how much I fucking love that place. The line ups in 2013 and 2014 were some of the best I’ve ever seen.
2015 came along and the line up took a small step back, but nothing serious. More of my personal taste in music, I could still respect half the bands on there. There was a great mix of rock, rap, metal and EDM. I went with a different group of people and still had a great time.
2016 Bonnaroo drops their line up to a huge backlash and a massive drop in ticket sales. While I wasn’t blown away by the bands on there I still made it a point to take a trip to Manchester, TN that year. Ticket sales in 2016 were abysmal (around 50k compared to 80k). This made my experience better, I was able to get up close to most of my favorite acts, there was more room for dancing and wandering. The mix of bands was strong, from Tame Impala, to RL Grime, J Cole, LCD Sound System and Pearl Jam.
Here we are in 2017 and Bonnaroo just dropped what I see as their worst line up to date. They have more than doubled the amount of EDM on the line up, there is not one metal band to be found and where are the late night legacy acts!? In the past we’ve had Billy Idol play late night in a tent, Earth Wind and Fire and ZZ Top to just name a few.
I’m glad to have some bands back, Portugal the Man and The Head and The Heart are some of my favorites. But to see someone like Marshmello billed 11th OVERALL is just crazy, he’s billed 12th for a single day at Coachella.
Also there is NO METAL. There has been metal at Roo for a long time, not an overwhelming amount of acts, just a few. It seems that has been replaced with EDM.
Trust me, I 100% want to see U2 and RHCP live, I think they are both great headliner choices. The Weeknd I am indifferent about, but I get his appeal and ability to draw a crowd. My main issue is the under card and lack of variety. I am going to listen to every band on there, I love finding new music. At a first look this line up has as much energy as a wet sock.
Royal Blood, Glass Animals, Kaleo, Car Seat Headrest and Snails are some of the best in the top half.
By adding a few more bands I think they could’ve changed the entire feel of the overall Bonnaroo 2017 line up. A Tribe Called Quest, Avalanches, Modest Mouse and Van Morrison would’ve had a huge impact on the crowd and overall vibes.
Bonnaroo has become what it is today because they have consistently created a well balanced line up with a great mix of all genres. I know things have changed since year one, but that shift was gradual.
Some notable lower tier bands are The Front Bottoms, Louis the Child, The Strumbellas, Rainbow Kitten Surprise and Mondo Cozmo.
I love you Bonnaroo, I always will. It’s possible I’m out of touch with cool music at my old age of 27. Maybe it’s not you Bonnaroo, maybe it’s me.