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Bonnaroo 2013: 5 Rising Acts You Need to See

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As this year’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival approaches, you’re likely already familiar with the big name headliners. Paul McCartney, Mumford and Sons and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are all set to lead another impressive roster of talent culled together for Tennessee’s annual four-day musical endurance test. As magical as it will surely be when the opening piano chords of ‘Hey Jude’ hit the masses in the main-stage field, Sir Paul’s set will follow roughly 12 hours of music from every imaginable genre. So what about those names all the way at the bottom of the poster? The true power and influence of Bonnaroo is its ability to welcome in even the most close-minded of music consumers and send them home with lists of new bands to look up. With that in mind, here are our picks for 5 Rising Acts You Need to See at Bonnaroo 2013. This year, they’re rocking the small stages, but we expect to see ’em under the bright lights before long.

The Stepkids


This psychedelic power trio funnels a litany of throwback influences through their own eclectic prism and visual aesthetic. They’ve made waves on the tour circuit with their trademark projections, which add a unique, complimentary dimension to a live show tailor made for Bonnaroo. Although the Stepkids work best in the dark, their mid-afternoon Thursday set will likely evoke memories of great Other Tent performances from years past, such as Ratatat’s 2011 barrage of sights and sounds. Watch the Stepkids perform 'Suburban Dream' below.


Ex Cops


Buoyed by last year’s well-received 'True Hallucinations,' the boy-girl indie-pop duo Ex Cops are striking out to make their case in the live arena. Their snappy, airy harmonies and textured, dreamy instrumentation blend seamlessly towards an immediately infectious sound. Sprinkle in a healthy dose of atmospheric synths and dynamic, jangly guitars, and you've got all the ingredients for an intimate set at the On Tap Lounge. Watch Ex Cops 'Separator' video below.


Capital Cities


Although initially established as a folk/bluegrass/jam hybrid festival, Bonnaroo has grown and helped build the legends of some of the biggest names on the digital side of the musical spectrum. (See one of this year’s returning heroes, Pretty Lights.) Two-man band Capital Cities build upon and take an intelligent approach to traditional synth-pop constructions and boast a bona-fide international hit in the incendiary, pulsating 'Safe and Sound.' Watch Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian trade lead duties as their expansive, rollicking electro-rock rolls out and ignites a late-night dance party. Watch Capital Cities' 'Safe and Sound' video below.




A year removed from their first proper LP, 'Body Faucet,' this genre-fusing band from Athens, Ga., continues to defy expectations and easy categorization. Disco one moment, pop-psych the next, the rowdy quartet manages to organize the chaos into shimmering flurries of onstage energy. Thanks to Graham Ulciny’s expressive croon and whine and Reptar’s overall energy and road-tested sheen, this set is liable to go down as one of Bonnaroo's breakouts of 2013. Watch Reptar's 'Rainbounce' video below.




With death comes rebirth, as these three former members of the indie-rock outfit Scattered Trees can attest. When that band broke up three weeks before scheduled studio time, Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci and Ryne Estwing made the best of a bad situation, crafting 'Give In,' a debut that quakes and bursts with ethereal power and a palpable sense of urgency. For a band in its relative infancy, ON An ON has a tremendous opportunity at Bonnaroo 2013 to showcase its talent and turn some heads. Watch On an On's Video for 'The Hunter' below.


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