As is the case with any major festival, the names at the top of the lineup poster are typically what will sell you on buying a pass. In the case of Bonnaroo, there's the added appeal of the unique atmosphere organizers have cultivated over the years and have sought to improve with many new elements making their debut in 2015.
One of those new additions is the Who Stage which will host a bunch of great, up-and-coming bands who may make the leap to the bigger platforms in years to come. Think of it like a rookie pitcher making his Major League debut.
Personally, going into my seventh year in a row attending this fest, I enjoy looking at the poster from my first Bonnaroo and seeing where some of those names are now. Give it a search on Google and you'll see names like Pretty Lights, Janelle Monae and Portugal. the Man rounding out the tiny print.
With that said, here are five bands gearing up to rock the Who Stage at Bonnaroo 2015 that we would recommend catching before you're caught in the back of their crowds at future festivals.
This U.K. trio draws deserved comparisons to atmospheric folk contemporaries like Ben Howard, so it's no surprise they've caught the attention of fellow Bonnaroo-er Ben Lovett of Mumford and Sons.
Their new album, Islands, sounds like it was made with a performance at the Farm in mind. Beautiful harmonies sit over moody synths as a classic folk sound is fused into something more modern. There's nothing preachy and there are no elements of Top 40 pandering on the latest from Bear's Den, which was produced by regular collaborator Ian Grimble (Travis, Daughter, Manic Street Preachers).
Brooklye music fans can likely attest to the all out pop-funk-jam freak out that is a Rubblebucket live show. The arc of each of their performances has a bright catharsis akin to a small scale Flaming Lips with all the beauty in the depths of emotion splayed out.
Squelching horns and shimmering electronic elements make for a Moon Taxi-meets-Phantogram type sound that is furthered by Rubblebucket's latest, Survival Sounds, out earlier this year.
Did I mention that you get to sing about coming out of a lady hole? Because you totally do, and it's a blast.
This band has a lot going for it beyond just good PR; Mini Mansions' latest LP, The Great Pretenders, furthers the notion that this is a band with a vision all its own.
Yes, the band features Queens of the Stone Age's Michael Shuman, and the album features vocal contributions from Alex Turner and Brian Wilson. Without those eye-grabbing names, however, Mini Mansions' space-funk channels traverse a myriad of sounds and influences. "Death Is a Girl" sounds like it could be slotted into any 80's Prince album while "Fantasy" is a propulsive pop-rock shimmy into outer space.
And it is "Vertigo", featuring Turner, that is definitely the stand out on The Great Pretenders.
You can look at recent crossover success stories like Walk the Moon or Twenty One Pilots and go, "Who's next?" One stream of Ithaca, N.Y.-based group X Ambassadors' "Renegades" shows you that early potential, if not in a more Bastille-meets-the Black Keys kind of way.
One of the greatest parts of any festival, especially Bonnaroo, is watching bands like X Ambassadors give it all they've got and eviscerate a stage they've likely already grown out of. The aforementioned Mumford and Sons followed the same path, and a last-minute Childish Gambino set a few years back -- an add-on to Donald Glover's appearance in the Comedy Tent -- helped pave the way to his near-headliner status.
Who better to close down the Who Stage's inaugural year than Betty Who? That could not have been a coincidence, right? That all said, the singer's ebullient monster pop anthems have her on track to reach the ranks of contemporaries like Robyn with sonic landscapes reminiscent of a glammed-up Passion Pit.
The Australian's rising star was buoyed to new heights by her most recent release, Take Me When You Go. Overall, show up to Betty Who's set and expect to be blown away by her showmanship and to find your feet moving ecstatically.