With less than a week away from the 2013 Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival, I find myself increasingly convinced that my life is nothing more than the snowglobe fantasies of that autistic kid from St. Elsewhere, and I won't actually be fulfilling a lifelong dream to see one of the Beatles live. The last couple of weeks, Baeble has run a series profiling the best up and coming artists playing Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And now, to bring our pre-Bonnaroo coverage to a close, we want to take a look at some of the most heart-breaking decisions you'll have to make about which bands to see this year.
And as any Roo veteran can tell you, your Bonnaroo experience is defined nearly as much by which amazing acts you can't see as it is by the ones you do. Whether it's choosing between Tame Impala and the National, Wilco and Grizzly Bear, or Beach House and Bjork, this year's organizers haven't made your decisions easy. Bonnaroo also makes it even more heartbreaking by having some shows only overlap by 15 minutes but that's still too much to miss, and so we here at Baeble want to give some helpful suggestions.
Japandroids vs. Father John Misty
Has it really been a year now since "The House That Heaven Built" was the undisputed Song of the Summer? My calendar says yes, but the fact that Celebration Rock has remained in a solid rotation for my daily listening since then, and it shows no sign of slowing down. There's no doubt that Father John Misty's Fear Fun was one of the most criminally under-appreciated albums of 2012, but I'm not passing up a chance to catch Japandroids as they wind down their last American tour for a long while.
Alt-J vs Killer Mike
Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music was one of last year's most revelatory hip-hop albums, and any year where good kid, m.A.A.d city didn't come out, it would have been an easy pick for the best hip-hop record of the year, period. We love the Mercury Prize winning Alt-J, but we have to give the edge ever so slightly to Killer Mike's Dungeon Family sounds.
Ariel Pink vs. Haim vs. Walk the Moon
"Round and Round" by Ariel Pink still makes a strong case as one of the best songs of the 2010s so far and Haim are one of the most exciting girl pop groups around. But Walk the Moon have a reputation for legendary live shows, and win by a nose.
To quote Wilco (who's about to make an appearance on this list), "I am trying to break your heart," had to be the guiding mantra of the person writing this year's schedule. Glen Hansard has an Oscar, but Of Monsters and Men hold the current sway over my heart, and "Little Talks" and "Mountain Sound" must be heard live.
Wilco vs. Wu-Tang Clan vs. Jim James
Bonnaroo recently announced a hip-hop superjam Friday night featuring RZA, Schoolboy Q, Solange, Earl Sweatshirt, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and others, and if they hadn't done that, Wu-Tang Clan wouldn't be on this list cause they were playing in the Superjam time slot. Honestly, any other day, I'd probably choose the Wu over Wilco, but their set ends right before Paul McCartney's, and if you're wanting a better spot for a Beatle, Wilco's at the main stage.
I don't want to talk about this one. One of the most popular indie female acts of all time up against one of the most consistently beautiful purveyors of dream pop of the last decade. Beach House edges Bjork out only because Bjork's most recent albums haven't lived up to her 90s output.
Nas vs. Dirty Projectors vs. Matt and Kim
Ouch, Bonnaroo. Ouch. Had Life Is Good not been as career reviving as it was, I might have picked Matt & Kimm here, but Life Is Good was arguably the best thing Nas has done since at least Stillmatic. And considering Illmatic remains one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever made, it does make this choice a little easier.
R. Kelly vs. "Weird" Al Yankovic
I fear that I may turn into the Incredible Hulk before I finish this article as I keep being reminded of the insane decisions I'm forced to make. "Bump & Grind" or "Amish Paradise?" "I Believe I Can Fly" or "Bedrock Anthem?" Why are you doing this to me Bonnaroo?!
Kendrick Lamar vs. Holy Ghost!
Le sigh. I caught Kendrick Lamar at a Thursday night tent set at last year's Bonnaroo. He wound up being my third favorite set of the festival, and that was before he was performing any of his good kid, m.A.A.d city numbers. I'd love to see Holy Ghost!'s dance punk fever, but Kendrick is on his way to being a hip-hop icon.
The National vs. David Byrne & St. Vincent vs. Divine Fits vs. Tame Impala
Seriously, Bonnaroo, what the hell is wrong with you? Why would you make a human being choose between any of these groups let alone all four of them? Lonerism was as close to perfect as anything released last year, and something tells me they're a little more exciting on stage than The National. Ugh. This one hurts.