Bonnaroo week is upon us, and, as we prepare to head down to Manchester this weekend, June 7-10, for what is shaping up to be a stellar 17th year for the nearby event, and as we wind down our 2018 Artist Spotlight series, we wanted to help you get ready by taking it a step further, with a guide to our most-anticipated performers for each day of fest. Complete with times, stages, and song previews, we’ve exhaustively done our homework and picked out artists we think should top your list, so if you’re scrambling to pack and still in the dark on making your schedule, give the 15 Sunday performers below a preview (and be sure to check out our Thursday, Friday, and Saturday lists)! See you on the farm!
#15: ST. PAUL & THE BROKEN BONES
Sunday | That Tent | 6:45pm
Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, soul rockers and longtime site favorites St. Paul & The Broken Bones found breakout success with their 2014 full-length debut, Half the City, which quickly catapulted them from one of the region’s hottest new bands to a national staple, making late night appearances (Letterman was famously so impressed he had them play an encore), garnering radio play, and earning critical praise for their classic, eclectic soul sound and frontman Paul Janeway’s powerful voice. Formed in 2012, St. Paul’s roots go back a few years earlier, when Janeway met bassist and close collaborator Jesse Phillips. After several years in the Birmingham scene, the pair made a last ditch effort to forge a new project, quickly realizing a knack for soul, and bringing in the rest of what would be St. Paul & The Broken Bones’ original six-man lineup, eventually expanded to eight. Garnering further accolades for 2016 sophomore effort Sea of Noise, St.P remain a dependable and excellent festival favorite and a delight to witness.
LISTEN | “Half the City”
WATCH | “Call Me” (Official Music Video)
#14: MIKKY EKKO
Sunday | Which Stage | 1:30pm
The son of a preacher, Mikky Ekko spent his childhood bouncing around the deep south, entrenched in gospel from an early age, before ultimately settling in Nashville to pursue a musical career. While he found early traction as a songwriter, producer, and budding solo artist, even performing with Nashville collective Ten Out of Tenn, it was an appearance on 2013 Rihanna track “Stay,” which he co-wrote, that really put Ekko on the national radar (and bagged an appearance at the Grammys).
After a couple years of continued buzz and a string of high-profile writing credits, Mikky released his full-length debut, Time, in 2015, a confident, poppy, and triumphant representation of many years of artistry. Opting to remain in Nashville, Mikky has continued to write and produce in balance with a solo career (which creates the occasional appearance that he’s laying low), but began to reemerge last last year with new music, resulting in an excellent recent EP, Advance Copy, ahead of a forthcoming Jay Joyce produced sophomore album, Fame. Easily one of Nashville’s most important pop artists, his afternoon set is worth venturing to Centeroo early for!
LISTEN | “What It’s Like Now”
WATCH | “Smile” (Official Music Video)
#13: RICH BRIAN
Sunday | Which Stage | 3:15pm
Hailing from Jakarta, Indonesia, Rich Brian (formerly Rich Chigga, though the name change was well-advised) literally learned English by listening to hip hop, and grew up on YouTube and Vine, where he found viral fame as a young teen. 2016 single “Dat $tick” earned the young MC widespread attention, garnering the eye of prominent American rappers, and going on to amass millions of plays and earn Gold certification. After a series of increasingly buzzy followups, Brian, now 18, dropped his debut LP, Amen, earlier this year, and currently resides in Los Angeles and he attempts to transition from viral media star to legimate rapper. A main stage set at Bonnaroo is definitely a solid step in that direction.
LISTEN | “Glow Like Dat”
WATCH | “Dat $tick” (Official Music Video)
Sunday | Who Stage | 7:15pm
What began as a mysterious local production and a remix project a couple years back, indie/electro/r&b duo Biyo (pronounced like bio) have been dropping futuristic-sounding original singles since mid-2016, coming out of the shadows with some seriously cool tunes. Going only by their first names, Grayson and Sam (though you might recognize them from other musical endeavors), the band have amasscd millions of streams and love throughout the blogosphere for their sexy, r&b and pop drenched style, and while they seem to prefer to keep a mysterious vibe and let the music do the talking, their Who Stage set is a must-see.
LISTEN | “Fantasies”
WATCH | “Moments” (Official Music Video)
#11: GRAND OLE OPRY
Sunday| That Tent | 8:15pm
While Nashville is, of course, so much more than country music, it’s still the home of and most important city for country in the world, and so much of that can be attributed to local institution the Grand Ole Opry, which began nearly 100 years ago. Seemingly in place of the Bluegrass SuperJam of recent years, the Opry has put together an excellent, eclectic bill of local country performers for a Sunday night jamboree (which we assume will flow like a typical Opry show), includes legends like Del McCoury and Bobby Bare, and newer favorites like Nikki Lane.
LISTEN | Bobby Bare – “I Drink”
WATCH | The Del McCoury Band – “All Abord” (live)
Sunday | What Stage | 8:15pm
Eminem is, undoubtly, the biggest hip hop name on this year’s Bonnaroo bill, but Atlanta staple Future is a huge, prominent name in his own right, and is probably more relevant to the younger festival goers. While he’s been kicking around in the scene for nearly a decade, his 2012 formal debut Pluto, and 2014 followup Honest made him a buzzy star in the hip hop world, leading to a collaboration album with Drake a subsequent string of bigger hit records and huge tracks. A bridge between the ‘00s hip hop scene and the more trendy fare of the moment, Future is a reliable performer and a solid chance to end the weekend’s rap quotient on.
LISTEN | “Codeine Crazy”
WATCH | “No Shame” ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR (Official Music Video)
#9: MOON TAXI
Sunday | Which Stage | 7:15pm
One of Nashville’s definitive rock and roll success stories of the past few years, Moon Taxi began just over a decade ago, while several members were students at Belmont. Quickly finding a regional audience following the 2007 release of their debut, Melodica, the group’s early days were characterized by a compelling and polished live show, and an affinity for jam-inspired rock with progressive tendencies. The group’s sophomore release, Cabaret, arrived in 2012, and really set the wheels in motion for the whirlwind of success they’ve since experienced. Finding a poppier balance, doubling down on their songwriting, and incorporating electronics, Moon Taxi quickly found a larger critical and commercial audience, going, in a matter of months, from local events like East Nashville Underground, to prominent spots at national fests, appearances on late night television , commercial placements, and nonstop touring.
2013’s Mountains Beaches Cities followed a sonically similar approach to proggy, poppy, alternative rock, and their sound became even more accessible with 2015’s Daybreaker, paving the way for recent fifth effort album Let the Record Play, their most pop primed, confident, anthemic, and polished record yet, and a perfect representation of the energy and excitement of their live show. With lead single “Two High,” the band scored their biggest bona fide hit, and they return to Bonnaroo at an exciting and important moment in their career.
LISTEN | “All Day All Night”
WATCH | “Two High” (Official Music Video)
Sunday | Which Stage | 5:15pm
Formed by lifelong friends Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson, and expanded over the past few years to become more of an expansive musical collective, English neo soul group Jungle are an absolutely breathtaking live experience. They caught our ear with their eponymous debut in 2014, and have since scored countless major festival and television appearances, prominent placements, and a dedicated following. If you dig vibey, artsy, soul rooted and experimental tunes, this band will blow your mind, and while we wish Sunday did late night sets, since that would be perfectly suited to their vibe, we’ll take what we can get.
LISTEN | “Busy Earnin'”
WATCH | “Happy Man” (Official Music Video)
#7: *REPEAT REPEAT
Sunday | Who Stage | 5:15pm
Husband an wife duo *repeat repeat are longtime friends of the site and a longtime local fixture, helping forge and facilitate a space for exciting local acts on the rise with their beloved East Nashville Underground concert series, which also served as a backdrop for some of their earliest shows. Founded by frontman Jared Corder, the band’s nostalgic, harmonic, garage rock sound nods to ’60s California surf music, and is filled out by the harmonies of his wife Kristyn, who lent her vocals to early sessions at a producer’s encouragement, and soon became a permanent fixture.
Anchored by the Corders, the band went from local buzz to national with their debut record, Bad Latitude, in 2014, and after constant touring and mounting attention, inked a deal with Dangerbird ahead of last year’s more adventurous, confident, wistful, and pop primed followup, Floral Canyon. A joyous and engaging live band, *repeat repeat seem well on the way to becoming Nashville’s next big rock success story, and the must be witnessed in person to be fully appreciated. An intimate stage set is a treat, so don’t sleep on it!
LISTEN | “Mostly”
WATCH | “Girlfriend” (Official Music Video)
Sunday | This Tent | 9:00pm
Grammy winning bassist, genre-bending musician, producer, and high-profile collaborator Thundercat has been doing his part in recent years to bring a fresh spin on funk, r&b, soul, and jazz to increasingly diverse mainstream projects, known with his work with everyone from Kendrick Lamar to Flying Lotus to Suicidal Tendencies. The LA native has also released three solo albums since 2011, with last year’s Drunk managing to land as his most celebrated, honed, and triumphant effort yet, earning universal acclaim and winding up on more best of lists than we can count. Live, Thundercat is an expansive, unbelievably cool musical journey, and while his schedule conflict with the also excellent alt-J is tough, we’d suggest making room for at least some of his set!
LISTEN | “Them Changes”
WATCH | “Show You The Way” ft. Michael McDonald & Kenny Loggins (Official Music Video)
#5: DANIEL CAESAR
Sunday | This Tent | 7:15pm
Young, Canadian r&b/neo soul singer Daniel Caesar found tons of early buzz for his first EPs, Praise Break and Pilgrim’s Paradise, in 2014 and 2015, heralded by critics as the next great r&b singer to watch, and beloved by trendy blogs for his fresh style. It was last year’s Freudian, however, that brought him broader, more universal recognition, landing on a wide swath of best of lists, and landing a certifiable hit in Kali Uchis teamup “Get You.” Bonnaroo has a knack for snagging incredible talents, and Caesar is no different. Whether you jumped on the bandwagon already or you’re just getting hip, he should be a top consideration for your last day at the fest.
LISTEN | “Violet”
WATCH | “Get You” ft. Kali Uchis (Official Music Video)
#4: BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
Sunday | That Tent | 5:15pm
One of the most beloved and seminal Canadian indie rock acts of all time, Broken Social Scene’s ranks over the years have included members of more influential projects than we can name. The revolving door lineup often includes a dozen or more players, anchored by founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. While their origins trace back to the late ‘90s, and they managed to cultivate a critical following and respectable fanbase for their first three records throughout the ‘00s, Feel Good Lost, You Forgot It In People, and Broken Social Scene, it was 2010’s Forgiveness Rock Record that resonated on a wider, more mainstream scale, named by countless outlets as the year’s best, and catapulting the group to a new caliber of recogntion. They’re a festival favorite for their versatility and ever-evolving lineup, and their tent stage set stands to become one of the weekend’s most memorable sets, especially with a highly-anticipated new LP, last year’s Hug of Thunder, in tow.
LISTEN | “7/4 (Shoreline)”
WATCH | “Skyline” (Official Music Video)
Sunday | Which Stage | 9:15pm
It’s been a decade since English indie rockers alt-J met and formed the group while attending university, and five since they erupted onto the scene with their incredible 2012 debut, An Awesome Wave. We can think of few indie acts who’ve experienced such a swift rise in recent years, as 2012 alone saw them grow from praomising young act to Mercy Prize winners, critical darlings, radio and festival staples, and international touring artists. Since then, they band have released two more fantastic full-lengths, 2014’s This Is All Yours and last year’s Relaxer, continuing to garner praise and grow in stature thanks to their unique, electro-infused, experimental, rhythm heavy, and off-kilter pop accessible sound. They’re an absolutely unreal live experience, and if you enjoy artsy, off-kilter, adventurous indie rock, their evening outing on the big stage couldn’t be a more perfect warmup for The Killers’ subsequent set.
LISTEN | “Breezeblocks”
WATCH | “In Cold Blood” (Official Music Video)
#2: DUA LIPA
Sunday | What Stage | 6:15pm
No, that’s not deja vu you’re expericing- breakout English synthpop singer Dua Lipa played Bonnaroo last year too, also for a Sunday slot. Then, she felt like a fresh faced newcomer with so much potential, hot off the buzz of some stellar singles, and having just dropped her first LP days before the fest. She’s absolutely blown up since, thanks particular to smash, empowering anthem “New Rules,” earning a return spot at Bonnaroo where she’s graduated from a tent to the main stage. Already hard at work on a new LP, the young singer and model sprung from early teenaged YouTube buzz to become one of the most exciting new names in pop, and catching her on her meteoric rise, where she’ll certainly have an epic return set planned, is one of Sunday’s most exciting prospects.
LISTEN | “IDGAF”
WATCH | “New Rules” (Official Music Video)
#1: THE KILLERS
Sunday | What Stage | 10:15pm
Formed in Las Vegas in the early aughts, post-punk revivalists The Killers found almost immediate breakout fame upon the release of their debut LP, Hot Fuss, in 2004. Different from much of the indie and garage rock explosion of the time (and vastly different from the burgeoning pop punk explosion), the band carved out a niche with a penchant for flashy, synth laden indie and alt rock, fusing Vegas flair with a love of classic new wave and post-punk. Hits like “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me” helped put them on the map, earning international accolades, major awards, and leading to huge early tours and festival spots. 2006 followup Sam’s Town, however, really flexed their range, showcasing further nuance as songwriters and an ability to adapt. Taking a short break after 2008’s Day & Age, the group have spent the last decade alternating between the band and other endeavors (including a solo effort from frontman Brandon Flowers), with the live commitment of some members scaling back, despite remaining a beloved, huge act and creatively viable outfit. While 2012’s Battle Born didn’t land quite as critically favorably of their prior releases, The Killers’ latest, last year’s Wonderful Wonderful feels like a solid return to form, and with the test time, they remain one of the most essenital
LISTEN | “Run for Cover”
WATCH | “Mr. Brightside” (Official Music Video)