It's a tough time of year to be a Bonnaroo fanatic. You're almost exactly halfway between your last visit to The Farm and your next one. The usual February lineup drop date is in sight, but still seems impossibly far away. This year, even the rumor mill seems to be churning slower than usual. But until the Bonnaroo Clues start back up or some credible rumors come along, we can make some educated guesses about who might be on the Bonnaroo lineup from past lineup trends. So far, we've looked at possibilities for two of the three Bonnaroo headliners with our profile of classic rockers and modern acts who could possibly headline. Today we'll look at the hardest headliner to pin down, Bonnaroo's Sunday wildcard.
In past years, Bonnaroo's Sunday headliner has been an act at least somewhat associated with the "jam" scene. Examples include Phish, Dave Matthews Band, and Widespread Panic. But in 2013, Bonnaroo threw a wrench in that trend by booking Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for Sunday. Or did they? Sunday tends to be a day when many people leave to get back home in time to resume their lives on Monday. So what's really needed in a Sunday headliner is someone who appeals to the hardcore festival goer, the person who are going to stick around until the last note is played. Jam bands, with their loyal following, fit that bill well, but so does an act like Petty that has a lot of crossover appeal.
Here are some bands who we see as plausible to close out Bonnaroo 2014's Sunday night slot.
Let's go ahead and get our annual Widespread Panic prediction out of the way. Widespread Panic and Bonnaroo go together like peanut butter and jelly. Widespread has headlined more Bonnaroos than any other act by a wide margin, their last being in 2011. Their frequent headlining slots have polarized Bonnaroo fans, with some loving it and others wishing for more diversity in options. But whenever they headline, they pack the field so they're a good safe bet to close out the weekend. They also have a gap in touring between June 10-20, perfect to fit in a Bonnaroo set. The case against them is a May 4 date in Nashville, very close for a Bonnaroo headliner.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse
After Neil Young and Crazy Horse didn't fit Bonnaroo into their 2013 touring schedule, many thought they'd missed their chance. But the group is preparing for a series of European dates in July so it doesn't seem out of the question that they could get a kickoff show in at Bonnaroo before jumping the pond. Neil Young is always a popular choice among Bonnaroo's hardcore fans and his last appearance, a Which Stage set with Buffalo Springfield in 2011, packed that stage to capacity.
My Morning Jacket
If any act is more associated with Bonnaroo than Widespread Panic, it would have to be My Morning Jacket. Home grown favorites, the band has risen from a daytime tent opener during their first appearance in 2003 to an epic 4 hour Late Night Which appearance in 2008 to a pre-headlining slot for Arcade Fire in 2011. Frontman Jim James co-curated 2013's Rock & Soul Dance Party Superjam with John Oates and many consider it the best Superjam ever. Additionally, My Morning Jacket has already headlined another AC Entertainment run festival, Louisville's Forecastle. A Sunday headlining slot would be a perfect capper to that Bonnaroo rise.
Dave Matthews Band
Dave Matthews headlined Bonnaroo 2010 and drew a pretty big crowd. He has a lot to offer a festival promoter in that he has significant fanbase among jam fans but appeals to a lot of college aged kids and classic rock fans as well. Currently, Dave Matthews only has tour dates running through April but that just puts the tour ending as festival season gets into full swing.
Zac Brown Band
While he's now known as a mainstream country juggernaut, Zac Brown has history with Bonnaroo, playing a tent in 2009 and then pre-headlining for Dave Matthews Band in 2010. Since then his star has only grown and it's hard to see him back as anything but a headliner. While his style of country music won't appeal to every fan, that's what the Sunday wildcard is all about. Zac Brown has enough "jam" in his show to appease a lot of hardcore Bonnaroo fans and could draw well with the local population, being so close to "Country Music USA." Brown has also been working recently with Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, which could make for a potential sit-in if Foo Fighters grabbed one of the other headlining slots.
Want to join in with your own ideas for Bonnaroo headliners? There are several ways to do it. First, you can share your ideas here in the comments section. Second, Bonnaroo themselves has gotten in on the rumor game this year by inviting fans to post on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or Tumblr pages with the hashtag #roo14wishlist to let everyone know who you'd like to see. Third, if you can't get enough talk about Bonnaroo, you can head over to the Inforoo fan message board where some of Bonnaroo's most hardcore fans debate the merits and possibilities for all of the Bonnaroo 2014 lineup.