We went over this last year, but former Battle of the Bands-style competition series the “Road to Bonnaroo,” in which three Mercy Lounge showcases resulted in three local bands earning a coveted Bonnaroo spot, came to a close after its 2015 season. However, last year, the similarly-named but very differently structured Road to Roo, hosted by our friends at Lightning 100, sprung up in its place.
Spread out across town, the Road to Roo is more of a bracket-style series, and results in one single, state-wide winner, selected over the course of several weeks. Submissions ended awhile back, and even the first preliminary round, which took place last week at Cannery Ballroom, snuck by us. Tonight, March 8, at Acme Feed & Seed, the second preliminary round is happening for FREE, and if you want to help tip the scale and send some local favorites one step closer to the finals, you’ll need to show up by 9.m. (and ideally, by the 6 p.m. start time) to vote.
Here’s how it works: both March 1 and March 8, eight locals bands were selected to compete in random order, playing short preliminary round sets for an audience who then vote to select four from each show (or eight total) to advance to the semifinals. The semifinals are March 14 at The Basement East and March 23 at 3rd & Lindsley, and four bands from each preliminary round will compete, performing slightly longer sets, in random order (meaning some from each show are likely to be matched up). Two bands from each semifinal round, so four total, will be selected by vote to advance to the City Finals, which will be held at The Basement East on March 28. In the City Finals, the four bands will be given an even longer set time, and one winner will be selected. Surely that’s the end, right? Nope! One final final round, the Tennessee State Finals, will take place April 5 at Acme Feed & Seed, where Nashville’s winner will compete against a winner from Memphis (who, presumably, had to battle their way though a similar process), and one of those two acts will be crowned supreme victor, finally awarded a spot at Bonnaroo 2017.
Last year, local boys Roots of a Rebellion won out. This year’s Nashville competition began with Arlie, The Black Mags, BRUNS, Maradeen, Daniel Donato, Forest Fire Gospel Choir, Kid Freud, and Omega Swan, the latter four advancing to the next round. The remaining semifinalists will be chosen tonight from a preliminary pool of the Allen Thompson Band, The Bumbs, Cody Huggins, Creature Comfort, Doran Danoff, Lydia Brittan, The Middle Ground, and Stelle Amor. Since it’s at Acme, the show is technically 21+ (sometimes you can get in early with the all ages dinner crowd though), and things are set to get stared at 6 p.m.. As we stated, voting ends by 9 p.m., so you’ll need to be punctual if you want to affect the outcome. Check out a preview of tonight’s lineup below, and keep an eye out for updates as this year’s competition moves forward!