Bonnaroo Lineup Speculation: What to Expect On Tuesday

posted by on february 13, 2013 at 6:30 pm in Features

Bonnaroo 2013

I’m a big Bonnaroo fan. City festivals of similar size don’t have the same atmosphere. Camping festivals don’t usually have similar size or the variety of acts. Bonnaroo has it all. This will be my 6th time on the farm, and ever since a muddy version of me got in the car after 4 hours in the rain with Phish last June, I’ve been ready to go back. Next Tuesday, February 19, the lineup drops, and I couldn’t be more excited. Here are some things to look for, and some bands that have been hinted at.

(Disclaimer: all of my information comes from religiously stalking, a message board for fellow Roo fanatics. In this article I just plan to repeat the rumors and focus on analysis. If you are interested, please do visit the website, but there is a lot to sift through given the fact that when there is no new information, the board members do like to argue. At the bottom you can find a link to their headliner speculation discussion thread. IT’S ALL SPECULATION. No promises til Tuesday.)

(Note: Lower level bands are actually usually easier to predict, because they often play more than one festival in a given summer. For a list of undercard acts that have confirmed they will be playing, press the link at the bottom. Be wary though if you don’t like spoilers.)

paul mccartney

Paul McCartney in NYC (12/12/12)
Paul McCartney in NYC (12/12/12)
Several posters on the aforementioned message board report that Paul McCartney will be there. None reveal any hard sources however, leaving some room for doubt, however many have staked their reputation on it. It does seem to make sense though, as McCartney has never played Roo before and he is coming off a Grammy-winning album. Not that we really want to hear too much of it, but I’d say there is a very good chance of this happening. Interestingly enough, the message board posters say he will be performing on Friday, which traditionally has been the night of the smaller headliner (not 2011). ALSO, just remembered this, but a Pinkpop organizer (festival in the Netherlands) said they couldn’t get McCartney because apparently American festivals were more important to him. I’m paraphrasing there, but since Pinkpop is the same weekend of Bonnaroo, it’s a good sign.

tom petty

This rumor has also been floated around. For those who don’t know, Petty last played the festival in 2006. The other main headliner was Radiohead, who played Bonnaroo 2012. So if headliners are beginning to be recycled, this could make sense. However, there are some important reservations. First, having McCartney and Petty there, who would surely be #1 and #2 unless something crazy happened, appeals to a much older audience than Roo usually does. For example, last year’s Radiohead and RHCP, or 2011’s Eminem and Arcade Fire. This is compounded by the fact that the third headliner is usually a guitar-based jam (or at least kind of jam) band. A lot of old guys on guitars for Roo. Second, the cost would be quite high. This isn’t a huge deal because we never really know how much artists get paid, but we can imagine the price of McCartney would be pretty large. Both of these doubts are founded on the idea that Paul will headline, so if he doesn’t, then Petty could be there. Also, the recent news that Petty will be headlining Hangout affects his chances at Roo either way you look at it. It shows that he will be touring, but also it might be unlikely that an artist of his size would headline two at least relatively close festivals one month apart.

kanye west

Kanye West Performing in NYC (10/24/12)
Kanye West Performing in NYC (10/24/12)
Call it a pipe dream of mine. Unfortunately, ever since his tardiness and shortened performance of 2008 (when he demanded an AM set time, pushing Phil Lesh to a different time slot, and then showed up late, blaming it all on Pearl Jam) the likelihood of Ye returning has been reduced. However, that was a long time ago. He’s a different man, and Roo’s a different Roo. Since then they have doubled up their focus on hip-hop, with Eminem in 2011, Jay Z in 2010, and a slew of other large names (Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Blackstar) so West could make sense, and appeal to the younger crowd. He’s also playing the week before at Governors Ball in NYC, so he will be active in June. And rumors of a sixth album have been floating around. So maybe it’s the year. Let’s just hope Baby Ye won’t be a problem, as Kim K will probably be expecting around that time.


Another act that could in one swoop appeal to a younger crowd and make the headliners seem more alternative, this could be happening. And some Inforooers say it will. It would also be a big get for Bonnaroo, as she does not tour or play festivals frequently. In fact, only a few USA shows in New York have supported her recent album, Biophilia. So maybe she’s ready for something bigger, and Bonnaroo is of course a great place to start it.

mumford and sons

I have considerable bias about this band. I’ve seen them twice, one of which was actually a very good performance. And I liked the first album. But by now, I’m tired. Overexposed for a moderately interesting sound, and having attended Bonnaroo twice already (2010, 2011) I don’t think they deserve a headliner spot. But, they are insanely popular right now. They would bring the younger crowd. And they would sell tickets. And they just won album of the year. And they live in Nashville. So it’s very possible. Just boring.

jam band

Here’s something that is actually not certain whatsoever. Maybe Furthur? They’ve never played, though Phil Lesh might still be mad about the aforementioned 2008 Kanye incident. Widespread Panic is more likely, as they are the go-to Bonnaroo jam band headliner, having headlined 6 times already. And their tour, according to their website, ends June 9 in Raleigh, a week before beloved Bonnaroo. However, they do also have 2 dates in Knoxville in June, which would usually be considered a breach of the proximity clause bands usually have to sign when performing festivals, but it’s very possible they could negotiate out of that. It’s not a bad choice, they always put on a good show, but a somewhat uninspired one. If it’s next to some really great acts though, no one will be complaining.


These are the main acts being discussed on that beacon of Bonnaroo rumor milling also known as Inforoo. But there could very well be a red herring, as always. A good place to look always is other festivals, as many bands play several summer festivals, creating some overlap. Could Phoenix or Blur (Coachella) give us some Western European love? Could Guns N’ Roses (Governors Ball) or Kings of Leon (Governors Ball, Hangout) make us ask Bonnaroo why are you doing this to us? Could Muse or Neil Young come back from Europe real quick (where they have tour dates around Bonnaroo weekend)? Could Fleetwood Mac hop on down from Ohio (where they are playing June 15th) to make the last day of the festival? Could David Bowie play (no, probably not)? Your guess is as good as mine. There’s usually at least one high level band that surprises even the most attentive of Bonnaroo observers, so maybe. I, for one, am excited for next Tuesday!


Inforoo – FAT MCCARTNEY is headlining ‘Roo 2013 now shut up. – Where most of the headliner speculation goes on in Inforoo. Warning though. There’s like 500 pages. It’s a doozy. Also a lot of Kanye West argument. And Fat Axl Rose memes.

Inforoo – Artist Direct Confirmation Thread 2013 – Inforooers asked artists directly whether or not they’d be playing Roo. Here’s the responses, if there were some. Some medium/upper level acts have confirmed, so check it out if you dare.

RTL News – Here is that nugget of Pinkpop and McCartney info. Google Translate it.


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