With the 2016 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival lineup now officially out in the world, there’s still plenty to unpackage and evaluate as 'Roo rookies and lifers scan the list of names playing the massive concert going down June 9 through 12 in Manchester, Tenn. There weren’t too many surprises as much of the lineup leaked last week ahead of the mildly anticlimactic unveiling on Conan last night (Jan. 19), but it wouldn’t be Bonnaroo without some inventive thinking.

As much of the U.S. is mired in a deep freeze, let’s envision warmer days on the farm (now with permanently installed bathrooms and showers) and look forward to some of the highlights in this year’s lineup.

The Headliners

With the boon of the festival industry since Bonnaroo’s inception 15 years back, it's become increasingly harder to book every single relevant act in the world. Whereas fellow heavy-hitters like Coachella or the newly minted Okeechobee festivals take place in the spring, Bonnaroo is in June – right smack dab in the middle of the most competitive time of year for international festivals.

Everyone has their ideal or dream headliners in mind, and as with much in life, turns out you were just setting yourself up for disappointment by clinging to the long-rumored Daft Punk, Prince or Roger Waters appearances.

Jason Oxenham, Getty Images
Pearl Jam / Jason Oxenham, Getty Images

Still, Bonnaroo certainly gets credit for their creativity in assembling truly eclectic talent this year. Headliners alone a festival does not make, but the top three line of Pearl Jam, Dead & Company (the "company" is John Mayer) and LCD Soundsystem has a little something for everyone. Directly behind that, you have J. ColeEllie Goulding and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to satiate the younger, radio-friendlier crowd.


The Superjam has been a staple of Bonnaroo for years now: It's where organizers choose a particular theme or taps an artist to curate a collection of singers, musicians and more to stage a once in a lifetime performance. In years past, this has ranged from a Jim James-led Superjam to a Skrillex mind-melter.

Tame Impala / Cassandra Hannagan, Getty Images
Tame Impala / Cassandra Hannagan, Getty Images

We’ll have another Superjam to look forward to this year, but there are also a couple other special rarities lined up. First and foremost, you have the "late night" tag affixed to Tame Impala which should induce visions of psych-rock majesty dancing towards sunrise. The potential there is immense with plenty of questions left to be answered. Tame Impala last played Bonnaroo in the Other Tent in 2013 and have exploded exponentially since then. And, last year, Bonnaroo staged their first true late night main stage set with Deadmau5 last year. With that, one of two things are likely: Either Tame Impala will play the main stage after the headliners or on the Which Stage at some point during the night (Bonnaroo goes until 4AM daily).

Imagine a Dead & Co into Tame Impala scenario? Did you hear that? That’s the sound of thousands of jam fans’ heads exploding. Also, how long will they play? Will their set time have "till ???” affixed at the end? One can only hope.

From there, you have the now annual Bluegrass Situation Superjam with Ed Helms, but a little further up you’ll also find the newly christened supergoup Claypool Lennon Delirium featuring Les Claypool of Primus and Sean Lennon. Their new single “Cricket and the Genie” retains Claypool’s unmistakable and incomparable bass whirling down Lennon’s pysch-rock rabbit hole. It should make for an amazing set.

The Undercard

Identifying acts as being in the true “undercard” is purely subjective, but in the case of Bonnaroo, you have to make certain exceptions. Take a look at how long it takes to find Third Eye Blind on the poster. They may not be the most relevant band right now, but most everyone at the festival knows at least two of their songs – and you can’t say the same about a lot of the other acts above them.

There's also some big-time names (Death Cab for Cutie, M83, Ween) wedged in with a lot of cred-building singer-songwriters (Father John Misty, Jason Isbell, Leon Bridges).

Waxahatchee / Jason Kempin, Getty Images
Waxahatchee / Jason Kempin, Getty Images

So, what are some hidden gems in the undercard? Twin Peaks, Natalie Prass, Dungen, Waxahatchee, Beach Fossils and Hundred Waters are just a few of the burgeoning and excellent acts you need to add to your schedule. Meanwhile, Lucius and St. Lucia (aside from having similar sounding names) are poised to further break out into the mainstream while relative unknowns like rapper Goldlink and pop-duo Oh Wonder are already riding deserved hype waves that should crest right as the Bonnaroo arrives.

There’s still tons more to come in the months leading up to Bonnaroo, including plenty of lineup additions, but with the initial announcement, you certainly have the makings for another great year down on the farm.

The 100 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016

More From Diffuser.fm