Unlike Coachella, who revealed its 2014 schedule just 72 hours before weekend one formally kicked off, Bonnaroo has offered more than enough time to piece together a proper schedule that’ll capture the weekend in full. Unfortunately, the scheduling conflicts this year are quite horrific, which is why we’re here to offer our expertise.
10. Sam Smith vs. Dr. Dog
Time: Friday, 2:15 p.m.
Dr. Dog are recurrent visitors to the farm, having been in 2005, 2007, and 2010, but last year’s B-Room gives them plenty of solid new material to display. Sam Smith, on the other hand, will have his debut album drop just weeks before Roo and has never had a full set at an American festival.
CoS Recommends: Sam Smith. It’s hard to pass on what’s not only a farm debut but a festival debut, especially for someone whose star is going to rise even higher after his album drops. –Ben Kaye
9. Damon Albarn vs. Cage the Elephant
Time: Saturday, 5:45 p.m.
Damon Albarn sounds like the easy option, but Cage the Elephant is known for their live show. They’ve brought it at Bonnaroo before, and this time slot is highly conducive to their explosive perfomance style. Still, Albarn has yet to play many U.S. shows solo, and this’ll be only his second festival appearance.
CoS Recommends: Damon Albarn… is the easy option. If you’re feelin’ balls-out-rock-n-roll right then, by all means check out Cage. We’ll be over at the guy who brought us Blur and Gorillaz, trusting it’ll be worth it. –Ben Kaye
8. Omar Souleyman vs. Poliça
Time: Thursday, 10:30 p.m.
Thursday night is usually the “up-and-comers” night, and these are two names that have been rising steadily the last few years. Poliça brings synth-y trip-hop from Minneapolis, while Omar Souleyman brings a world flavor to electronica folk from Syria.
CoS Recommends: Omar Souleyman… is one of those guys made to be “discovered” at a festival. Doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard him, just go to be amazed at his band’s chops and the ability to get lost in a grove that surpasses language and cultural barriers. –Ben Kaye
7. Neutral Milk Hotel vs. Phoenix
Time: Friday, 8:00 p.m.
With Neutral Milk Hotel continuing to add dates to their tour schedule, the reunion we were never sure we’d get now extends deep into 2014. And while it’s great that the Jeff Magnum-led outfit is still trucking, this time really could be the last. Phoenix’s career, conversely, is clearly on the up-tick. Response to Bankrupt! may have been divisive, but the band’s live performance has never been better.
CoS Recommends: Neutral Milk Hotel… even if you’ve already seen them, it’s hard to pass on a band that’s on it’s last leg for a band that’s got tons of life left in it. –Ben Kaye
6. Ms. Lauryn Hill vs. Cut Copy
Time: Saturday, 8:45 p.m.
Bonnaroo stands a comeback for both of these artists. Lauryn Hill is embarking on her biggest tour in recent memory and is sounding as soulful as ever, bringing a setlist heavy of highlights from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Cut Copy will continue the festival’s motto to radiate positivity and encourage Bonnaroovians to “free their [minds],” but they have a long journey of festivals dates already ahead of them.
CoS Recommends: Lauryn Hill… with Frank Ocean also playing Saturday, it’s going to be a spectacular night for R&B. The genre hasn’t been this well-represented in a long while, so take advantage of it. Be sure to mark Bobby Womack, Sam Smith, and Janelle Monáe on your schedules, while you’re at it. –Sam Willett
5. Arctic Monkeys vs. Warpaint
Time: Sunday, 4:15 p.m.
What makes this one especially tough is that both acts are coming off incredibly strong (sort of self-titled) records. Arctic Monkey‘s AM has been more unanimously well-received than most of their past efforts, and Warpaint has solidified the quartet as a daring musical force.
CoS Recommends: Arctic Monkeys… have been generally shrugged at by audiences stateside, but we promise you they’ll deliver if you give them a shot. They’re at a new peak, so now is a great time to buy in. –Ben Kaye
4. Lionel Ritchie vs. James Blake vs. Chromeo
Time: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
These acts were all billed to make you dance at Bonnaroo, whether it would conjure up some nostalgia or rattle your rib cage. While Lionel Richie is an attractive option for rarity’s sake, Chromeo and James Blake reside on a completely opposite side of coin. Late night sets probably would have suited them better, but the tent atmosphere will allow them to transform The Farm’s atmosphere into a night or disco club, respectively.
CoS Recommends: James Blake… while Chromeo may unload some new material in their set, they have a long road ahead of them. Richie’s masculinity can’t hold up to the ethereal dominance loaded with Blake’s beautiful vocals and keyboard tones. After the bass, you’ll never feel the same. –Sam Willett
3. CHVRCHES vs. Vampire Weekend
Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Both CHVRCHES and Vampire Weekend are blog darlings, but at entirely different points in their career. The former is fresh off an incredible debut album, while the latter has an enviable track record of 3-for-3. On the other hand, they’re both festival regulars in their own right, though Vampy Weeks made bigger rounds last year.
CoS Recommends: CHVRCHES… unless you’re going to just about any other festival this year and/or haven’t seen Vampire Weekend since Modern Vampires of the City. –Ben Kaye
2. Disclosure vs. Mastodon vs. Ice Cube vs. SuperJam with Derek Trucks and special guests
Time: Friday, 11:30 p.m.
Superfly, what the fuck are you doing with this? We understand that you want to spread out the crowds during the popular late night sets, and splitting up genres like this is “smart”. But for those of us with varied musical tastes and an ear towards everything, this is pure heartbreak.
CoS Recommends: SuperJam… always go with a SuperJam. No doubt Sam Smith will show for Disclosure, Mastodon will melt faces, and Ice Cube will head from Manchester to the set of Ride Along 2: Keep Riding, but who knows what will happen once Derek Trucks, Chaka Khan, Ben Folds, Andrew Bird, and the rest of this massive SuperJam hit the stage. And that’s what makes it such a must-see. –Ben Kaye
1. The Flaming Lips vs. Frank Ocean vs. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds vs. SuperJam with Skrillex and FFriends
Again, Superfly?! Really?!
CoS Recommends: Just… just kill me now.