Happy birthday, Bonnaroo! You’re 15 years old this year; that’s like 40 in festival years. Getting up there.
At that age, there’s really only two ways to celebrate. You could go balls out, throw everything you’ve got into the limo, and paint the town red (or, judging by your new color scheme, purple and green). Or you could go the classy route, put together a classic playlist, invite all your closest friends, and have yourself a perfect get-together. Neither is better or worse, mind you, but those are your options. From the looks of the 2016 lineup, you seem to have gone with the latter choice and set yourself up with a solid top-to-bottom bill that brings together a little of everything we’ve loved about you for all these years. So what kind of gifts did you get your fans for this anniversary celebration?
It’s been awhile since anyone mistook Roo for a “jam band” festival, but if there was ever a perfect time to go back to your roots, this’d be it. Those two sets from Dead & Company set up a delicious cake topped with Pearl Jam icing and the sparkling candles of LCD Soundsystem’s highly anticipated reunion. There’s a lot of judgement to be passed on the ol’ 4-7 spots, too, and that’s where we see your glorious evolution as one of the country’s premiere destination festivals. Hip-hop (J. Cole), pop (Ellie Goulding), and indie rock (Tame Impala — late night, no less!) are all right there on the top bars. We can argue about Macklemore’s return (and we will), but seeing such diversity pressed right against the headliners is a reminder of how far you’ve come, old boy.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. You’ve made sure to stack the party favors with a little of everything from country (Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton) to soul (Leon Bridges, Mavis Staples), R&B (Miguel, Blood Orange) to all sorts of rock (Ween (!), Third Eye Blind (?!)). I mean, you could’ve given us a bit more in the legacy or reunion departments, and your dance music feels a bit underwhelming (The Chainsmokers are your top billed EDM act? Really?). But you still pulled out a few surprises, even with the early leak of the lineup. We didn’t even know The Claypool Lennon Delirium was a thing until you told us!
Look, we could pick apart your guest list all day if we wanted to, but the fact remains you’re Bonnaroo! You’re one of the best there is. Your lineup may not be perfect, but it’s all kinds of great, and we’re just as thrilled as ever to come celebrate with you on the Farm. That said, there are a few things we’re most excited for, those we’re sad you neglected, and some we just have to shrug at. Let us explain exactly what we really think.