Bonna-rumors: Who’s gonna headline 2012?

Pre-sale tickets started (and sold out) two days ago for the 2012 Bonnaroo festival.  This got my rumor wheels turning. I’ve been thinking non-stop about who might be headlining next year, and I’m finally just going to publish this so I can move on to something else.  So, let’s start discussing some possibilities.  Let me know if you think you have an idea.  Let’s have a bit of fun on this cold day.  Who do you think is going to be the headliner?

Radiohead?  They announced a North American tour recently.  They have been long rumored as the headliner for this year’s Coachella festival, and their tour schedule looks like it could work out for that one.  Bonnaroo looks pretty good for Radiohead’s current tour schedule, as well.  Though, it’s pretty rare that Coachella and Bonnaroo have the same headliners.  Radiohead last played Bonnaroo in 2006.  If you google “Radiohead + Bonnaroo”, you can find a page that has Radiohead listed with an apparently updated 2012 page.  Of course, you can do the same thing for Eminem with the same results, and I seriously doubt he is coming back for a second straight year.  Radiohead’s bio also hasn’t been updated since In Rainbows.  I’m not saying it won’t happen, but I doubt this means anything.

Wanna go big, and take a guess that Black Sabbath might make a headlining appearance?  After years of speculation, it’s been reported that they are going to have a new record and an upcoming tour.  I mean, we haven’t heard any real updates and it’s already December, but I’m not saying it won’t happen… legs on this one?  They did bring Metallica down there in 2008!?!

The Cure?  This could be a big one if the reunion continues.  Here’s a write up to their 11/23 show in LA.  The Cure haven’t played Bonnaroo.  I think this one might really have some legs.

What about the Red Hot Chili Peppers?  They’ve just announced the first few North American dates in their reunion tour (minus guitarist John Frusciante).  There’s even a facebook fan page begging for this to happen.  I’d say there is a good chance of this one, though I wonder if the California boys will be drawn to the Southern California stages of Coachella instead?  Furthermore, RHCP will be on tour in Europe in June, and, while there is a two and a half week window open between tour stops in Switzerland and Russia, I’m not sure they would make the trip back across the pond for a Bonnaroo set.  Who knows though… I don’t think they’ve ever played The ‘Roo.

No Doubt?  It’s one of those picks that makes you think just because of the reunion factor, and that would certainly fit the bill for a festival like Coachella given their penchant for snagging up reuniting bands.  I don’t remember them ever playing at Bonnaroo.  Am I wrong here?  What do you think?

The Raconteurs?  They got back together this fall, and rocked out at The Ryman recently before hitting a few of the smaller festivals.  They last played The Roo’ in 2008.  The Nashville boys are still “uncertain” if there will be a new Raconteurs record.  If there is a new record, you could bet that a Bonnaroo slot would be beneficial for everyone involved. [updated] Jack White has been announced as the headliner of Sasquatch in support of his new solo record.  Brendan Benson is also releasing a new record, and could be performing at the fest too.  So, I guess there is still some evidence that the Nashville based Raconteurs could “meet up” at Bonnaroo.  This rumor is more likely to lean towards a Jack White solo set.

What if we go more reclusive?  Portishead and Jeff Mangum just came out of hiding to woo us for a hot second.  While I would give Portishead a nod to hold down some sort of headlining capability, I just couldn’t imagine Neutral Milk Hotel’s frontman up on What Stage on a Saturday night.  I don’t think either has performed at the festival before.

The Foo Fighters?  They would be a huge draw, and they are touring again.  Here’s a write up to their recent New York City show.  Do you think they could hold down a headlining set?

Bruce Springsteen just announced a new record and tour coming up, but that is very unlikely given he will be on tour in Italy during The ‘Roo this year.  It also might be a little too soon for him to return since his 2009 headlining set.

We all know that The Black Keys are releasing a new record this year (next week actually).  I’m not sure that they are big enough yet to handle the top billing yet.  They just played the opener for Eminem in 2011, so they might be another record out before they get the headlining nod.  Not that I wouldn’t be very excited if it happened.  Update: Since I first wrote this post, The Black Keys sold out Madison Square Garden in 15 minutes, and added another show the next day.  Maybe they don’t need another record before they headline Bonnaroo.

Beck?  Could we figure out a way to get Beck back on a stage somewhere?  I’ve heard that Beck is more interested in producing for others (see Thurston Moore and Stephen Malkmus this year) than he is in recording new Beck records.  I sure do like seeing  Beck perform though, so that would be fun.  I doubt there is any real credibility behind this suggestion other than my own personal desire.  Maybe, I am just looking for a reunion of the 2006 lineup with Beck and Radiohead.

Roger Waters and David Gilmour doing the Wall?  Unless they shoot down to the Farm on their day off between dates in Chicago and Louisville, this is highly unlikely.  Not to mention that huge stage set up isn’t really conducive to rapid turnover festival lineups.  Another side note, they are playing in Nashville 9 days after the fest, and these huge festivals usually have radius clauses stating that you can’t play with XX miles within XX days.  Of course, I guess you would waive that for something this big if they could pull it off.

The Beach Boys (updated) recently announced a new record and tour to celebrate their 50th anniversary.  So far, they only have a few dates confirmed (Jazz Fest in April and a couple in Germany in August).  You would have to imagine that they aren’t announcing the rest of their tour until the summer festival lineups become public.  This would be one of the best Sunday night sets ever.

Van Halen (updated) just announced a massive North American tour with Diamond Dave.  I would imagine that this would be a big draw.  They are playing a string of dates through the South in the spring (Nashville on 4/27), and they will be out on the west coast in June.  However, there is a week break between the San Jose show on 6/5 and Anaheim on 6/12.  So, I guess that would be enough time for them to shoot back to the area for a Bonnaroo set.

I saw somewhere that Tim McGraw & Kenny Chesney are touring?  Is that right?  I wonder if they will make an appearance?  ummm….  I guess we also have to consider Coldplay too, sigh.  I didn’t even look up their tour dates, because I don’t care.  It would be interesting to think about Bonnaroo dropping the country dudes in on Sunday evening with an unprecendented single day ticket sale for that day only.  Talk about raking in some cash!

Of course, Bonnaroo always rounds it out with a little something for everyone and TONS of up and coming acts.  You also know there is going to be some hip-hop highlights (Jay-Z & Kanye? or OFWGKTA?) at some point.  You know there are going to be late night DJ sets (M83?).  And, you know that they are going to have a chilled out Sunday closer (insert pretty much any jam band you can think of here).

Do you have any ideas on headliners?  Man, this post could literally go on forever (I just thought about Madonna with MIA and Nicki Minaj).  It is fun to think about hot, summer nights filled with music and good times during these short, cold days though.  Discuss.


  1. What do you mean Radiohead would have to make a pretty quick exit out of Europe to play Bonnaroo on Saturday? They aren’t in Europe pre-Bonnaroo and don’t go to Europe until June 30. Also, AC Entertainment is the promoter of M83’s show in Nashville on May 15, so I’d say they probably won’t be at Bonnaroo due to AC Entertainment’s radius clause.

  2. Wow! Thanks for the response, Chris. You are right. I think I must have been looking at July for some reason. I’ll update that.

    As for the radius clause, I would imagine that AC Entertainment can do anything they want with M83 and the clause. The purpose of the radius clause is to keep bands from playing local venues en route or on the way out of Bonnaroo, thus keeping locals from paying to come to Bonnaroo and just seeing the few bands that they want when they are playing in Nashville.

  3. This will be my first Roo’ and Im stoked! I’ve heard stories from friends that went years past, and I can’t wait to be on the farm. I really hope Red Hot Chili Peppers, MGMT, and Starfucker are going

  4. Jordan, no way its your first roo!!! Well, your gonna have a blast, i live down the road so ive gone ever since i was little and its an amazing place to be

  5. why do you talk about rhcp and the cure tours as a reunion? they never broke up you half a tard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks for the response, Brian. You are the first person to call me a half a tard… Ever! I really appreciate your continued support!

  6. is it just me or does it seem the rumors and semi confirmations are a little slow to trickle out this year? think its cause of the overspeculation and massive innacuracies of last year???? hahaha

  7. I pray for MGMT. But idk if that will happen. Foo Fighters is a good possibility…they’re plaing Bamboozle in May. Beck would be amazing. I’d really like to see the Fleet Foxes or Animal Collective as well.

  8. no radiohead at bonnaroo = no bonnaroo for me this year


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