Bonnaroo will be in Manchester, TN on Thursday, June 13 through Sunday, June 16
Michael Schwab, Nashville Tennessean
Maybe you’re a parent who can’t keep your Childish Gambinos and your Post Malones straight.
Or perhaps you’re a 20-something wondering aloud, “Who tf is phish and why does he have 3 different sets?”
Either way, we’re here to tell you that the big names on the Bonnaroo 2019 lineup are all there for good reason. Here’s what you need to know about the headliners (and a few important acts right beneath them).
Why they’re headlining: Well, first of all, “Lil Nug,”Phish is not a “he” — it’s a band. Four one-time Vermont college students who got together and became wildly influential architects of the “jam band” scene, along with their forebears The Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers Band. The band’s epic outdoor gatherings in the ’90s served as a blueprint for the first Bonnaroo, and they’ve headlined the festival twice already in 2009 and 2012.
And if the fact that they’re playing for a total of 5 1/2 hours over the weekend didn’t clue you in, Phish likes to stretch out. Their unpredictable setlists often veer into long, trippy jams — they once played a single song for 59 minutes.
Spin this Song: “You Enjoy Myself”
Year established: 2008
Why he’s headlining: Childish Gambino’s having a year so big he didn’t even have to show up to the Grammy Awards. Still, the stage pseudonym for multi-talented entertainer Donald Glover brought home four gold gramophones — including Song of the Year and Record of the Year — for his fervid and timely cut “This Is America.” Part of the final leg of Gambino’s ‘This Is America” tour, he also appears this summer atop Lollapalooza and Outside Lands.
Spin this song: “This Is America”
Year established: 2015
Why he’s headlining: Since the release of his 2015 debut single, “White Iverson,” Post’s commercial dominance has been swift and relentless. Texas-raised Austin Post, 23, has already racked up three No. 1 pop-rap hits with “Rockstar,” “Psycho” and this year’s “Sunflower.”
The charismatic, cornrowed singer has been accused of cultural appropriation, but also praised for his ability to weave rap, country, pop and rock into something truly distinct, and often infuriatingly catchy.
Spin this song: “Better Now”
Year established: 2016
Why she’s (sort-of) headlining: OK (okuuur?) … Cardi B doesn’t share top billing on the final night at The Farm, but the star power of this Bronx rapper can’t be understated. Cardi B broke out in 2017 with her chart-topping trap crossover “Bodak Yellow” and hasn’t left the headlines since. She’s put her flamboyant stamp on a handful of hip-hop smashes — “I Like It,” “Money,” “Ring” — and joined forces with Maroon 5 to release one of last year’s biggest songs, “Girls Like You.” Her newfound critical and commercial praise, however polarizing, brings Cardi B to one of the weekend’s most anticipated debuts.
Now, let’s just hope she shows up.
Spin this song: “Please Me”
Year established: 2005
Why they’re (almost) headlining: While your experience with the folk-pop band might have started and ended with their massive 2012 hit “Ho Hey,” they’ve carried on, with a chart-topping sophomore album “Cleopatra” and a highly anticipated third one due in September. This will be their second time playing Bonnaroo — but members of the group actually attended the inaugural fest as fans.
Spin this song: “Ophelia”
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