We are now less than three weeks from the 2013 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. The last two weeks, we've ran a series outlining some of the under-the-radar acts playing at the Roo this year on Thursday as well as Friday. Now, it's time to turn our eyes to Saturday. With Mumford & Sons headlining and Nas, Bjork, Beach House, "Weird" Al Yankovic, and the Lumineers playing as well, Saturday is jam-packed with big names so here are 10 acts you might have overlooked.
Tennessee alt-country act Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors find themselves playing opposite Nas and Dirty Projectors and therefore are competing against some primo Bonnaroo acts, but if you aren't a fan of classic hip-hop or experimental pop, head on over to the That Tent. With a sound that I can only describe as Our Lady Peace meets Fiction Family, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors combine often heavier rock with more traditional alt-country instrumentation and a healthy appreciation of ballads. They can switch from a sound that may seem comfortable on mainstream alt-rock radio to a softer, subtle Southern approach, and if you find yourself in Manchester, Tennessee, the sound will fit.
2. Lord Huron Saturday: This Tent (2:00 PM - 3:00 PM)
Michigan-via-Los Angeles folk act Lord Huron has one of the most intriguing sounds of your potential Saturday Roo experience. Though they fit into the communal folk pop mold of Of Monsters and Men or Arcade Fire, Lord Huron's psychedelic undertones help set it apart. Their single, "Time to Run," was one of the most instantly endearing songs I listened to while researching this list, and for someone looking for a slightly out of the ordinary experience to kick your Saturday into gear on the Farm, Lord Huron's air-tight harmonies and pyschedelic swirls will do the job. Check out their excellent LP, Lonesome Dreams, while you're at it.
Relatives of more famous performers will be a mini-theme in this list today but that's alright when they're both as talented as they turned out to be. Paul McCartney's son, James, is playing the Miller Lite Presented Lounge early Saturday afternoon, and honestly, he should probably be playing a tent at the very least. He has the voice and songwriting acumen of his legendary father but filters his music more through the sounds of 70s soft rock ala Fleetwood Mac. His debut LP, Me, has just been released and if it meets the promise of singles "Old Man" and "Angel," James should prove himself to be more than just a Beatle's son.
4. Solange Saturday: Which Stage (2:25 PM - 3:15 PM)
The only thing harder than being Paul McCartney's son would have to be being Beyonce's sister. Solange Knowles played at Hype Machine's Hype Hotel showcase at this year's SXSW, and much like saucy Brit Charli XCX, Solange brought the house down. Though many kids of the early 2000s may recognize Solange as the singer of the Proud Family theme song on the Disney Channel, Solange has really been making her mark as a solo artist with last year's excellent True which joined Miguel's Kaleidoscope Dream and Frank Ocean's channel ORANGE as one of the more exciting R&B releases of the year. If you want to see Solange's emergence from her sister's shadow, head on over to the Which Stage for what should be a fantastic set.
If Patrick Watson weren't playing opposite of everybody's favorite surf rock meets 1960s girl pop group reincarnation Cults, seeing him as my first band of the day for Saturday would be a no-brainer. 2012's Adventures in Your Own Backyard was a fantastic experiment in a combination of folk and baroque pop arrangements, and Close to Paradise won a Polaris Prize for a reason. Patrick Watson is popular in his native Canada although not as well known to many American listeners, and if you never understood all of the hype surrounding Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion's Motown revival via the Pixies set up, head on over to the This Tent to get lost in the warm embraces of Patrick Watson's sound.
6. Lucius Saturday: New Music on Tap Lounge (5:20 PM - 6:10 PM)
Here's another group that I can almost guarantee will be playing Tents and Stages in the future and will have a higher place on the festival circuit marquees. Brooklyn baroque pop band Lucius only have a self-titled EP under their belt at the moment, but it's one hell of an opening statement. On songs like "Go Home," Lucius channels Feist with an eerie accuracy, and the entire EP has the same combination of upbeat, lilting baroque melodies anchored by a genuine emotional lyricism and songwriting. As Leslie Feist finds herself between albums at the moment, if you're looking for an artist to fill that void, Lucius will grab your attention.
7. Clockwork Saturday: The Other Tent (12:30 PM - 1:30 PM)
An artist more suited for a rave than a traditional rock festival seems like an odd choice for a noon set to start off the day at the Other Tent, but other than my confusion about the scheduling of New York DJ/producer Clockwork, there's no doubt that this is an act worth seeing for fans of electronic music. Last year's Saturday at Bonnaroo was centered by a raucous performance from Battles, and while Clockwork will lack the live performance aspect of a Battles show, for anyone who needs their electronica/dub fix for the day and can't wait until the late night sets, start your day off at the Other Tent. Just don't forget your glow sticks.
Anti-folk or folk-punk is one of the most innately bizarre and contradictory genres of music that I can think of. And the Ghost Mice concert I once went to still stands as a truly indecipherable experience. Yet, San Francisco folk act Two Gallants certainly fit into the folk punk mold. Though certain songs are mellow enough to qualify as traditional folk rock, the band isn't afraid to amp up the volume, add a Brand New-esque edge to the vocals, and shred on their guitars like Evol-era Thurston Moore. Two Gallants quick transitions from folk to heavier rock may prove abrasive to some, but if you enjoy Titus Andronicus, give this band a chance.
With the exception of Thursday (where a lot of bands with only EPs but ever-growing hype play tents), the New Music on Tap Lounge and Cafe Where are the place to go see bands in their infancies. These are bands that usually don't have full-length albums yet, but with enough promising singles to warrant your attention. Similar to Thursday's Capital Cities, Tiny Victories is a synth-pop acting playing one of the smaller, more intimate venues that makes an immediate impact. Their EP, Those of Us Still Alive, is an ambitious, smart take on the New Wave revival that's been all the rage the last two years, and "Lost Weekend" is a single worth paying attention to.
The jazz heads in the room need a little love, and much like Friday's John McLaughlin & the Fourth Dimension, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is an extremely popular jazz act among fans of the genre but is fairly unknown outside of jazz circles. This New Orleans troupe has weathered many line-up changes over the years as well as the near destruction of their home venue in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They'll be playing in the Superjam after the headliner Saturday evening with Jim James and John Oates, but if you want to see them performing their Cajun jazz, they're the first main stage act of the day and should put on a wonderful set.