Bonnaroo | Nashville in June

This post credit goes to Now/It's Nashville.  Thank you for always being our go to for anything and everything music! 

If, for whatever reason, you’re in Nashville this weekend and were somehow unaware that this is the city’s busiest weekend of the summer, then best of luck to you. For the uninitiated, this weekend in Music City marks the annual arrival of all the CMA Fest and Bonnaroo faithful, who year in and year out travel great distances to hear some of their favorite artists perform.

Between the two, CMA Fest is the festival that actually takes place in Nashville, Bonnaroo, on the other hand, takes place about an hour south of town, in Manchester. As far as what the two festivals are all about, CMA Fest is pretty straightforward and coincides with the regular Nashville experience - country music, beer, more country music, and traffic. Bonnaroo, however, is a slightly different experience - one of which is typically misinformed to those unfamiliar.

Bonnaroo is a music festival that takes place on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, TN, thus providing the festival’s beloved mantra “See you at The Farm.” It’s four days of music, camping, community, (some) debauchery, and general merriment making of all sorts. For whatever reason, Bonnaroo is touted as the festival experience most akin to Woodstock, but it’s far from the truly hedonistic hippie experience that took place in 1969 rural New York. So don’t let those who have had extreme experiences at Bonnaroo lead you to believe otherwise - it is a relatively safe and enjoyable experience, with plenty of good music to go round.

Ultimately, Bonnaroo is one of the last bastions of “true” music festival-dom, which is to say that while most festivals have long been owned by large ticket promoters such as Live Nation or Goldenvoice, which in turn books mainstream and large ticket artists, Bonnaroo has always fought for the “little” guy. It should be noted, Bonnaroo was purchased by Live Nation in 2015, so things have skewed ever so slightly more toward the mainstream, but there’s still a bounty of fantastic independent and underground acts - who might not normally stop by Nashville otherwise - to be found outside of the festival headliners like The Killers, Eminem, and Muse.

But at the end of the day, all that really matters at Bonnaroo is having a good time, and enjoying some great music.


Here are 8 on-the-rise and/or underappreciated artists playing Bonnaroo this year, who are worth listening to at any time, whether you’re going to Bonnaroo, CMA Fest, or staying home.

Sylvan Esso


First Aid Kit

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St. Paul and the Broken Bones


Daniel Caesar

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Durand Jone & The Indications


Moses Sumney

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Larkin Poe

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