As the winter chills begin to draw to a close and the spring air starts to seep in, excitement and cheer seem to be contagious.  People are out and about, flowers begin to bloom, and for college students everywhere, the semester’s end is in sight.  As summer’s vacation plans are commencing with formulation, many young adults waited in eager anticipation of last week’s artist lineup announcement for the Bonnaroo music and arts festival, held annually in Manchester, Tennessee.  The event held June 13-16, draws crowds from all across the country, including a good representation of patrons from North Carolina.  As a savvy festival attendee, grilled cheese eater and seller, sometimes tie dyed shirt wearer, and concert goer in totality, I thought I would lend an early hand to those of our readers who are beginning to assemble their crews  and make their plans to travel to the rowdy jam fest that is Bonnaroo.

The inaugural Bonnaroo was in 2002, and primarily featured acts commonly seen on the jam circuit, such as Widespread Panic, The String Cheese Incident, and the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh and Friends.  Since then the festival has diversified extensively, and is a good reflection of the American music scene in general.  There is an immense hunger for all different types of live music, and while Bonnaroo still somewhat stays true to its jam roots, it attracts a very different crowd than when I first stepped foot on its dusty fields.  This is not a bad thing though, and I have referred to it as the tourist stop on the festival circuit.  It gives people a wonderful opportunity to broaden their horizons and discover new things, something I have utilized time and time again whilst attending.  Humor me as I do my best to predict some heavy hitters that you won’t want to miss while at Bonnaroo’s 2013 installment.  

The headliners, Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers— Just as a general rule of thumb folks, try not to miss the headliners.  I have made that lazy, brazen move in my youth, and I always regret it.  While many young attendees may not be as familiar with Sir Paul’s massive catalogue, I can give you the Charles Frank guarantee that this man is a professional, he knows how to deliver, and his show will hit…HARD.  Having seen Petty before, I can predict another great time as he rolls out hit after hit to what will not at all be a sober crowd.  While I don’t particularly like Mumford & Sons, I’d still say most should give them the green light, while there, and relish in the fun crowd that the What Stage always yields.

The Wu Tang Clan— [You read that correctly] The entire Wu Tang Clan will put a massive attack on the Bonnaroo crowd as they bring their New York/East Asian infused brand of rhyme straight out of Shaolin and straight into the masses in Manchester.   No matter your musical preference or background, this is a “can’t miss.”  I’ve taken in the Wu three times, and the shows are high energy and packed with anticipation of what the rap titans will play next.  Additionally, their DJ’s are always stellar. 

David Byrne & St. Vincent— Viewers will find themselves enthralled as David Byrne dips into his bag of Talking Heads favorites to light up the night.  Byrne is an artist I refer to as “a pro’s pro”, and he will make SURE that his show lives up to the lofty standards that the Bonnaroo stages boast.  Attendees can expect raucous versions of Burning Down the House, Once in a Lifetime, Take Me to the River, Psycho Killer, Life During Wartime, and many more. 

Kendrick Lamar— Let’s be honest.  Most new rap music is just horrible.  Gone are the days when popular rap was also good.  However, Kendrick Lamar is doing what he can to change that, and this young disciple of the west coast rap game is impressively different and innovational, two qualities that are usually completely absent from today’s crop of hip hop.  I regretted skipping his set last year due to silly negligence, so I implore everyone to turn an ear towards Mr. Lamar in what will probably be an easy to accidentally overlook early-evening set. 

Tame Impala— Everyone should at least go into some type of trance at Bonnaroo, whether simply induced by music or other unmentionables. Leave that job to Tame Impala, who will put on what could be one of the best shows of the festival.  This show will be polarizing, dark, dance-able, and everything in between.  While I have not seen Tame Impala live yet, I can tell simply by the musicianship that the show will be exquisite. 

The artists listed above are just the tip of the diverse musical iceberg that Bonnaroo has presented in its initial lineup announcement, but there is A LOT more than just the music to take in while inhabiting “the Farm”.  Next week, I’ll go into some of the finer details essential for an optimal survival experience, because Bonnaroo is no cupcake.  Stay tuned!  

You can follow Charles on Twitter @This_Is_Bones

image by griffintech via flickr