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Festival Guide

20 Must-See Acts at Bonnaroo 2014

From Arctic Monkeys to Kanye to the Skrillex Superjam, these Bonnaroo sets are not to be missed

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Every summer, a stretch of Tennessee pasture morphs from a handful of open fields into the swirling, belting, dancing, crowdsurfing, Ferris wheel-riding chaos brought forth by Bonnaroo. The festival—which draws something like 80,000 people every year—is one of the best when it comes to presenting a varied lineup that offers something for every eager music fan. The biggest names in hip-hop? Got it. One of the most iconic piano men of all time? Sure, no problem. A handful of up-and-coming indie dynamos hailing from every corner of the globe to surprise you with an electronic set, a multi-genre superjam or an earnest rock anthem? Bonnaroo can bring you that, too. 

We've compiled a list of the 20 acts we're most looking forward to catching at Bonnaroo. From Arctic Monkeys to Wiz Khalifa, there's plenty to choose from on the Bonnaroo 2014 lineup. (If anything, you may wind up paralyzed with indecision—choosing between these options for your ideal Bonnaroo itinerary could prove to be an impossible feat.)

1 / 20

Kanye West

Kanye West's Yeezus tour was one of the most talked about and critically-acclaimed productions of 2013, and his epic, cinematic stage show will push the limits of the Bonnaroo mainstage like no other headliner on the 2014 bill. If Yeezus brought about giant boulders, red-eyed ape beasts and an entourage of ethereal, eerie and faceless dancers, we can only hope that Kanye takes his Bonnaroo set past the breaking point for a truly inimitable performance. All of that craziness unfolded under the roofs of countless arenas around the world, so just imagine how the Bonnaroo crowd will pop off once the drums drop on "Black Skinhead."

2 / 20

Jack White

Bonnaroo will serve as a megawatt coming out party for what could possibly be the rock ruffian's greatest stuff, the hotly-anticipated Lazaretto. Concertgoers can expect plenty of ear-shredding solos and reverberating riffs galore on the timeless strains of "High Ball Stepper," and who knows: Jack does live in Nashville, so we wouldn't be surprised if some of his more famous neighbors and musically-inclined friends drove on down to Bonnaroo to sit-in for a song or two. (And if he somehow miraculously brings Kanye or Jay Z up on stage during his set? We'd cartwheel back to Nashville with giddiness.)

3 / 20

Lauryn Hill

Despite the fact that The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill dropped over 15 years ago, the record continues to embrace its cult status as one of the most eclectic, daring and adored hip-hop releases of the '90s. Hill has had a rough couple of years—she wound up in jail last spring for tax evasion and cited racism as the culprit behind her sentence—and her fans couldn't be more thrilled to have the former Fugee back on the big stage, let alone at a global music event like Bonnaroo.

4 / 20


No huge music festival is complete without a beat-ridden dance party fueled by a renowned DJ, but Bonnaroo crowds are getting especially spoiled with the Skrillex Superjam. Hosted by Mr. Sonny Moore and half of his hair, the Skrillex Superjam will include jams by the EDM DJ and special performances by Big GiganticDamian "Jr. Gong" MarleyZeddJanelle MonaeChance The Rapper and more.

5 / 20

Elton John

Elton John's as famous for his fantastic pipes as he is his extravagant stage get-ups, and one can only hope that the massive crowd at Bonnaroo will entice the piano man and revered pop icon to bust out a ton of old stuff—and a ton of totally ridiculous outfits to go with a hit-ridden set list.

6 / 20

Shovels & Rope

A guy, a girl, a guitar and a drum kit: Shovels & Rope keep it simple, and they're the perfect example of how less-is-more can really work on a big, outdoor stage. They're a refreshing dose of twang and grit at a festival that embraces power chords, hip-hop and dubstep drops in equal measure, and we can't get enough of Cary Ann Hearst's husky belt. "Hail, Hail Rock N' Roll," indeed.

7 / 20

Frank Ocean

When he dropped his explosive studio debut channel ORANGE in 2012, Frank Ocean stepped out of the shadow of Odd Future as one of the most impressive writers and crossover artists in recent memory. 

Hailed for his frank (yup, went there) honesty and ability to shake things up with a penchant for embracing unexpected instrumentation on his tracks, Ocean's follow-up to channel ORANGE—which is officially in the works!—is a release we've been looking forward to pretty much since his first record came out. Here's hoping Bonnaroo brings a set list chock-full of new material, because we can't wait to get our hands on it.

8 / 20

Arctic Monkeys

This Sheffield-bred rock quartet has style in spades—hey, not everyone can pull off Alex Turner's greaser quiff—and few Britrock bands stick to their guns like Arctic Monkeys. Driving punk riffs, sinister bass lines, cheeky lyrics and Alex's cool, collected vocals perfectly balance the slick underbelly of a North London dive. They exemplify the exuberance of shows that made you fall in love with rock n' roll when you first started heading out to concerts. The hits from their early days ("I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor;" "When The Sun Goes Down") are still as riotous as they were when the guys started playing, and work perfectly with the smoother productions of last year's AM. The expansive Manchester, TN, fields soak up a lot of the distortion, but bring earplugs anyway. You're gonna need 'em for these guys.

9 / 20

The Avett Brothers

Hailing from Concord, North Carolina, The Avett Brothers have been stringing up banjos, acoustic guitars and upright basses long before Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers started with the neo-folk revival. They released The Magpie and the Dandelion last fall and sold-out a slew of arenas supporting it, so months of touring to huge, adoring crowds has prepped them for what awaits their boot-stomping calamity and bluegrass breakdowns in Tennessee.

10 / 20


The guys of Disclosure may be young at 23 and 20, respectively, but band of brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence are hardly inexperienced when it comes to navigating the reinvention of electro-pop. Their first huge hit, "Latch," paired the Lawrence brothers with then-unknown talent Sam Smith for a compelling R&B-infused dance single, and they've been at their laptops working on beats like crazy ever since. Smith will also be hitting the Bonnaroo stage this year, so here's hoping a live rendition of "Latch" awaits us in Manchester. If the Coachella crowds got to hear it back in April, we're hoping Bonnaroo gets the encore!

11 / 20

Sam Smith

There's no shortage of compliments or adoring adjectives for Sam Smith's voice: soaring! Octave-leaping! Heartbreaking! Adele-likeTaylor Swift adores him, and we totally can't blame her. His full-length debut In The Lonely Hour will see its release the week after his Bonnaroo set, so the festival serves as both a proper coming-out for Smith's music and the match to the dynamite of his career.

12 / 20

Wiz Khalifa

The "Khalifa Train" may already be rolling, but we can't wait to hear what Wiz Khalifa's been up to when the train pulls into the station at Bonnaroo. The pot-fueled rhyme fire of Wiz's forthcoming Blacc Hollywood and his 28 Grams mixtape are sure to set off festival crowds. Who knows? Maybe one of his famous friends—like Ludacris or Miley—may show up to get in on Wiz's Bonnaroo set, as collaboration seems to be the name of the game for him with the new stuff.

13 / 20


The funky, synth-ridden sounds of White Women are blowing up every dance floor across the globe, and Montreal electronic duo Chromeo are to blame for it. Dave 1 and P-Thugg specialize in crafting beats that bring vintage sounds in a new framework, and it's impossible to get through "Jealous" or one of their epic collaborations with Solange without losing yourself in the rhythm.

14 / 20

Broken Bells

Renowned producer Danger Mouse (formerly of Gnarls Barkley fame) and James Mercer of The Shins have combined the powers of their musical genius brains for the sake of the greater electronic good. In between working on the new Black Keys and U2 records, Danger Mouse made time to head into the studio with Mercer, and it's a good thing, too. Their disco-inspired songs offer up plenty of dance floor clout and head-bobbing beats. Songs from After the Disco have gone over great with crowds since its release, and we don't doubt that Bonnaroo will be just as enamored with the super duo.

15 / 20

Capital Cities

"Safe and Sound" put L.A. pop act Capital Cities on the international radar with its explosive, uplifting and totally addictive chorus, and Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian aren't showing any signs of One Hit Wonderitis. It's been a bit since "Safe and Sound" and the rest of their debut, In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery, caught our ear, so we're stoked to see what the duo will bring to the Bonnaroo stage by way of new material.

16 / 20


Matthew Houck—aka Phosphorescent—is essentially a cosmic cowboy who moved to the big city with a guitar and a laptop in tow. The Athens artist left Georgia's most prolific rock scene for New York not too long ago, and the lush, genre-crossing harmonies that seamlessly blend country flavors with electronic instrumentation are tailor-made for an eclectic crowd at Bonnaroo.

17 / 20

Bouncing Souls

Since 1988, New Jersey punk gods Bouncing Souls have been kicking crowds into flailing, punching, skanking and moshiing frenzies on the international and festival circuit. Since their last record (2012's Comet), Bouncing Souls have seen a lineup shakeup and tapped the talents of Hot Water Music/Against Me!'s George Rebelo on the drum kit for a gig in 2013. Whether Rebelo's addition was a permanent move remains to be seen, and their Bonnaroo set will make for a triumphant return to the stage for loyal fans and new listeners alike.

18 / 20


When you take two insanely gifted electronic composers/DJs, throw them into the studio with a hodgepodge of gear and let genius do its work, you get a brooding, compelling product that speaks to their talents. Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington did just that, and their collaboration Darkside makes for a strong pairing that capitalizes on their experiences and electronic idiosyncrasies with ease.

19 / 20

J. Roddy Walston & The Business

Sometimes, you just need a heavy dose of straightforward guitar licks and throat-ripping screams that would make Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard proud. J. Roddy Walston & the Business channel the glory days of '50s rock n' roll while putting a decidedly modern garage spin on their chords and progressions. We haven't been able to get "Same Days" (or any of the songs off Essential Tremors, really) out of our heads since we first heard them, and chances are Bonnaroo will be chock-full of new fans losing it over the song, too.

20 / 20


Even among Iceland's eccentric, eclectic and universally-revered music scene, Asgeir is one of the most lauded new talents in the country for his inventive electronic/folk sound and totally indefinable brand of pop. He broke pretty much every record in order to clinch the title for Fastest-Selling Debut in Iceland for In The Silence, so Bonnaroo will make for an exciting, high-octane major festival showing for the Next Big Thing out of the Land of Björk.

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