Bonnaroo, Coachella fests boast similar bills
By Ray Waddell
NASHVILLE (Billboard) – Now that the basic lineups for the
Bonnaroo and Coachella festivals have been unveiled, this much
is clear: the musical identities of the two events have
Both festivals — which are among North America’s most
successful — maintain distinct differences. Not the least is
geography: Coachella is in the southern California desert, and
Bonnaroo is in the hills of Tennessee.
But the events’ talent lineups are starting to look more
similar, with at least a half-dozen acts playing both. Talent
buyers are trying to stay true to the fans as they attempt to
gauge where the next big music trend may emerge.
Bonnaroo, set for June 16-18 in rural Manchester, Tenn.,
trotted out Radiohead, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Elvis
Costello & the Imposters and Beck as its headliners. Tickets go
on sale February 11.
A day earlier, Tool and Depeche Mode were named as the
headliners for the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival,
which will be held April 29-30 at Empire Polo Field in Indio,
Calif. Tickets go on sale February 4.
Bonnaroo’s roots are firmly planted in the jam-band scene.
But this year’s lineup tilts toward mainstream and indie rock,
with acts like Death Cab for Cutie, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah,
Cat Power and Bright Eyes booked alongside more traditional jam
bands like Blues Traveler, Phil Lesh & Friends and others.
Conspicuously absent are such jam titans as Gov’t Mule,
Dave Matthews, Widespread Panic and Trey Anastasio.
“We’ve always tried to reflect people’s diverse music
collections,” says Jonathan Mayers, president of Superfly
Presents, co-producer of Bonnaroo with A.C. Entertainment. “We
don’t want to dismiss our core in any way, but . . . as great
as Widespread Panic has been to us and has been a really big
part of what we’ve done, we can’t have Widespread Panic every
Mayers stops short of saying Bonnaroo talent bookers were
responding to a jam-band scene that lost some commercial clout
during the past two years. Bonnaroo’s gross and attendance
dipped in 2005, to $13.4 million and 76,049, respectively, from
$14.5 million and 90,000 in 2004.
“I don’t think that (dip) consciously entered into it,”
Mayers says. “From a creative standpoint, each year we want to
keep our programming fresh.”
Mayers adds that the lineup introduced January 31 is just
the initial bill, and that “once the lineup is complete, I
think that our fans are going to be satisfied.”
Meanwhile, Coachella has a marquee attraction in Tool,
which performed at the first Coachella in 1999 but has not
played live in the United States since late 2002. Other acts on
the bill include Bloc Party, TV on the Radio, Sigur Ros,
Scissor Sisters, Daft Punk Common and Gnarls Barkley, a
collaboration between producer Danger Mouse and rapper Cee-Lo.
Paul Tollett, president of Coachella producer Goldenvoice
(a division of AEG Live), says he is particularly excited about
some of the lesser-known acts, comparing their ranks to last
year’s crop of the Arcade Fire, Keane and M.I.A.
“When the ad came out last year, maybe those bands weren’t
so big, but when the day came around, they’d blown up,” he
Among the acts playing both Bonnaroo and Coachella are
Damian Marley, My Morning Jacket, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the
Magic Numbers and Hasidic reggae rapper Matisyahu.
There is sure to be more duplication as the rest of both
lineups are revealed, along with the New Orleans Jazz &
Heritage Festival, set for April/May, Ultra Music Fest March 25
in Miami and Lollapalooza, tentatively set for August 4-6 in