The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, scheduled for June 7-10 in Manchester, Tenn., boasts an impressive 2012 lineup. Because the massive roster of different artists can be overwhelming, I have outlined my top seven bands to see at Bonnaroo 2012.
The Avett Brothers
World-renowned for its ruggedly authentic performances, The Avett Brothers is not an act to miss live. The North Carolina folk-rock band is best known for its rootsy 2007 release “Emotionalism” and more radio-friendly 2009 release “I and Love and You.” The latter album peaked at number 16 among the Billboard 200 Best Selling Albums, number seven among Rock Albums and number one among Folk Albums.
The Civil Wars
Receiving Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album at the Grammy Awards in 2012, The Civil Wars has already achieved acknowledgment for its unmatched live show. Mimicking southern spirituals, The Civil Wars create honest, bone-chilling tunes. The duo’s 2011 album, “Barton Hollow,” reached number 12 on the Billboard 200 chart and number one on the Billboard Digital Albums chart. The Civil Wars is composed of singer/songwriters Joy Williams and John Paul White, who shares an uncanny resemblance to Johnny Depp.
Nate Ruess, former singer of The Format, joined Andrew Dost of Anathallo and Jack Antonoff of Steel Train to create fun., a pop band known for big-sounding, blissful arrangements. The band introduced the world to its unique brand of indie pop in 2009 with “Aim and Ignite” and managed to advance it further with “Some Nights” in 2012. Featured on “Some Nights” is inspirational hit song “We Are Young,” which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and Digital Songs charts.
Singer and songwriter Justin Vernon’s indie rock project, Bon Iver, grew like wildfire among the underground scene in 2008 with the release of the haunting “For Emma, Forever Ago.” After releasing its critically acclaimed 2011 self-titled album, Bon Iver was thrust into the limelight. Pitchfork.com named Bon Iver Number One Album of the Year in 2011. The band also received considerable attention at the Grammy awards in 2012, winning Best Alternative Album and Best New Artist.
Backed by bassist Nate Brenner, Merril Garbus fronts the experimental tUnE-yArDs. To accurately reproduce the busy-sounding studio versions of tUnE-yArDs songs live, Garbus creates drum and vocal loops. This unique process is reason enough to experience the duo live. The latest tUnE-yArDs album, “w h o k i l l,” was released in 2011 and features popular song “Gangsta.”
Based in Portland, Ore., indie-folk group Blind Pilot experienced a unexpected lift from obscurity in 2009 with the release of “3 Rounds and a Sound,” which reached number 13 on the Billboard Top Digital Albums chart. The release followed a 2008 bicycle tour, during which the band biked, music equipment in-tow, from Bellingham, Wash., to San Diego, Cali. Blind Pilot released its more-polished, sophomore album “We Are the Tide” in 2011.
San Diego’s Delta Spirit, whose most recent releases include “History From Below” in 2010 and “Delta Spirit” in 2012, is an American original built around sincere lyrics and tight folk-rock arrangements. The musicians’ passion for what they do becomes most evident in live performances.