Bonnaroo Artist | Briston Maroney
Bonnaroo History | Newbie
Stage & Time | Thursday | That Tent | 3:00-3:45pm
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.
Raised in Knoxville on a steady diet of Americana and bluegrass, a scene which he emersed himself in and began performing at a young age, singer-songwriter Briston Maroney first found a taste of fame as a contestant on American Idol several years back while still in his teens. Though he’s bounced around between Tennesee, Los Angeles, and Florida, Maroney settled on Nashville for college, and it’s here where he’s spent most his career, finding himself as an artist and growing his sound to match his own personal growth, now as a 23-year-old with a decade of life and musical experience under his belt few artists can claim in their early 20s. Following some impressive self-released early EPs, Reason to Shake and Big Shot, Maroney landed a deal with Atlantic Records imprint Canvasback, where he released his 2018 breakthrough Carnival, the EP that spawned “Freakin’ Out on the Interstate,” a tune which has found something of a second life as a viral song on TikTok. Though infused with a sense of the John Prine-esque folk Briston grew up on, his solo works adopted a more genre-defying bent, awash with pop sensibilities and indie rock bite, deconstructed and made even more raw and vulnerable with 2019’s Indiana, an EP written and recorded after a tumultuous period which included a stint in rehab. The several years since have been some of the exciting up and comer’s most transformative, opening up his fiercely independent process to include more co-writers, and tapping producer John Congleton to help helm his debut full-length, this year’s Sunflower. While the LP echoes everything Briston has done before, maintaining the spirit of a folk rock foundation, it’s a much more indie rock oriented work, channeling the artsy, profoundly confessional, emo and punk-adjacent stylings of artists like Manchester Orchestra (which makes sense, since singer Andy Hull helped co-write), Kevin Devine, or Bright Eyes. To say it’s Briston’s finest work to date would be an understatement; Sunflower is one of the year’s absolute best records period. It’s gripping, it’s thrilling, it’s profoundly resonant, a triumph of highs and lows that find Briston Maroney coming out on the other side more confident in himself and his art than ever before, and it’s the reason we think he’s the absolute most-essential artist of Bonnaroo’s entire first day!
WATCH | “Bottle Rocket”
LISTEN | “Freakin’ Out on the Interstate”