With more than 200 artists, "superjams," film screenings, comedians and other various stimuli lined up for 2014 Bonnaroo, I still find myself freezing up every time someone asks me “What are you looking forward to seeing this year? Narrowing it down to a manageable list of things I’m looking forward to can be a teeny bit overwhelming. That said, with a diverse selection of big wig headliners that include Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White and Lionel Richie, I’ll be primarily focusing my coverage on music; and more specifically, artists who are a bit further down on the bill, but just as ear-worthy.
Below is a starter list of acts I’m looking forward to and who I think might be of interest to fellow WUKY listeners, in chronological order of appearance. For my next preview, I’ll be getting more in touch with my college radio roots and previewing some acts who are a bit further left-field. Those who are so inclined can listen to my “2014 Bonnaroo” playlist by clicking here!
Note: Those of you who have been to Bonnaroo are aware that they have named the five primary music stages and tents in the most confusing way possible. Much appreciated.
Friday, June 13, 2:15 - 3:15 p.m.
“The Other Tent”
British singer Sam Smith first pinged my radar as a vocal contributor to Disclosure’s 2012 electronic dance album “Latch.” I prefer his heartbreaking R&B vocals with a bigger splash of rhythm than he tends to treat them with on many of his songs (“Nirvana” and his work with Disclosure being notable exceptions), but to see a live show from a vocal performer with his range is one of the many highlights I look forward to this year.
Recommended tracks: “Stay with Me (ft. Mary J. Blige,” “Nirvana,” “Safe with Me”
Saturday, June 14, 1:15 - 2:15 p.m.
One of the most unique voices in recent memory, Memphis-based songwriter Valerie June’s self-dubbed "organic moonshine roots music" bears influences of gospel, blues, and Appalachian folk.
Songs to Seek: “You Can’t be Told,” “Workin’ Woman Blues,” “The Hour”
Cage the Elephant
Saturday, June 14, 5:45 - 6:45 p.m.
Still relatively young to the scene, Kentucky-based high-energy rock band Cage the Elephant formed in Bowling Green in 2006 and promptly proceeded to completely blow up following the release of their debut, self-titled album two years later. And while their particular brand of vintage-influenced upbeat garage pop is fun, the band picks up huge points in my book for their outspoken fandom of Lexington artist Clint Colburn, who has illustrated a handful of designs for the group.
Recommended tracks: “Come a Little Closer,” “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” “Shake Me Down”
Saturday, June 15, 8:45-10 p.m.
British singer, songwriter and producer James Blake creates beautiful electronic soundscapes that manage to be lush and minimal at the same time. He rose to international prominence with his cover of the Feist song “Limit to Your Love” in 2009 (when he was just 21 years old); he’s now released two albums and been nominated for a Grammy (Best New Artist in 2014).
Recommended tracks: “Wilhelm Scream,” “Limit to Your Love,” “Retrograde”
Sunday, June 16, 7:30 - 8:45 p.m.
This Swedish group has been active since 1996; while they have reached the point in the career where they find themselves headlining a Bonnaroo tent, in 2009 about 150 lucky local fans had the opportunity to see them at the tiny local venue Al’s Bar (click here for a video by oneness287.com from that show). Dark, synth-driven electro pop anchored by the clean, angelic vocals of singer Yumiki Nugano, the group released their most recent album “Nabuma Rubberband,” in May.
Recommended tracks: “Ritual Union,” “Blinking Pigs,” “Klapp Klapp”