Bonnaroo Artist | Oliver Tree
Bonnaroo History | Newbie
Stage & Time | Sunday | This Tent | 5:45-6:45pm
As we’ve been doing for the past several years now, we’re making it our mission to help you get acquainted with many of our favorites acts from Bonnaroo‘s 2021 lineup. However, to say that this year’s Bonnaroo is a bit of an unconventional one would be an understatement. Postponed from 2020, moved later into the summer, and with a lineup, schedule, and enhanced Covid-19 precautions all only announced and finalized mere weeks from the fest’s Sept. 2-5 weekend, we’re starting our preview coverage later than usual now that we have the full rundown, and will only be highlighting a handful of artists we want to make sure are on your radar this year, reflecting the full gamut of the festival’s days and stages, and even some performers from the plaza lineup. Additionally, look out for our full list-style lineup guides for each day of the fest, with many other artist recommendations, to help you navigate Bonnaroo’s stacked and sprawling 20th-anniversary slate.
Tickets for 2021 sold out in record time, but if you already have yours, or you manage to snag some from a reputable 3rd party, we hope you’ll do everything you can this year to keep yourself and your fellow Bonnaroo attendees safe throughout the fest, and to behave as cautiously as possible after to limit your risk of exposure to others. We’re thrilled to have music back, but, as the Delta variant fuels a rise in Covid cases, if we want it to stay back and stay safe, we all need to take care of one another. That said, we’re hoping this year’s Bonnaroo marks another important milestone on the road to normalcy, and some welcome solace for those in attendance. To help you get ready, read on for our Bonnaroo Artist Spotlight.
With his pronounced bowl cut, pastel windbreaker, JNCO jeans, and, typically, a scooter nearby, there’s no mistaking alt pop pranker Oliver Tree, who’s spent the last few years fashioning himself into something of a larger-than-life alter-ego, a sort of living meme. Like another artist we recently spotlighted, Orville Peck, Tree, a California native who’s currently based in Los Angeles, has fashioned a character so pronounced and alluring that it can border on distracting from his art, but, also like Peck, if you strip away the persona entirely, what you’re left with is some damn good music that can stand on its own. While it’s hard to untangle Oliver Tree the man from the persona, he appears to have been born in Santa Cruz, and spent his youth in various musical and wider artistic pursuits, eventually attending art school and finding some measure of independent success, releasing his early work as simply Tree, before refining the Oliver Tree character, filming and starring in a series of internet comedy shorts, and landing a deal at Atlantic, who released his debut, Ugly Is Beautiful, last year. Fusing a pop punk, indie, and alt rock penchant with elements of hip hop and electronic, Tree’s genre-bending, slick, and distinctive style immediately helped shoot his album up the charts, and has amassed hundreds of millions of streams for the oddball singer, catapulting him to genuine mainstream success. Inextricable from his image, Oliver’s art is a true multimedia affair, complete with comedic and surrealist videos and imagery, a whole invented mythos (he was “kidnapped” before his LP dropped, and supposedly “retired from music” after), and collaborations with everyone from Blink-182 to Lil Yachty. After recently dropping a deluxe version of his debut with additional tracks, Tree is apparently already hard at work on his sophomore effort, and given the over-the-top, stunt-filled, and immersive live performances he’s delivered at past festival and TV appearances, we suspect his first outing at Bonnaroo will be one of the strangest and most fun of the weekend.
WATCH | “Let Me Down”
LISTEN | “Hurt”