Hear ye, hear ye music lovers: it’s that time of year again. No, not quite Christmas (or Hannukah…or Kwanzaa…never mind), but Bonnaroo, a music festival extravaganza featuring artists both popular and indie, once again matched concertgoers’ high expectations.
This year’s more famous lineup included Eminem, breakout 2011 Grammy-award winning Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons, Neon Trees, The Strokes and Wiz Khalifa.
Last year paid homage to Mumford & Sons (who returned), Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, Jay-Z, Weezer, Stevie Wonder, Bassnectar and OK Go.
But where were the likes of Paramore, a newly reunited Blink-182, Radiohead or Rush? And why didn’t the show garner more attention with Billboard top charters like Lady Gaga?
Manhattan School of Music rising sophomore Allie Altieri, a vocal performance major and festival savant, believes these shows give indie groups a chance to shine.
“I think music festivals are really one of the only ways lesser-known bands can put themselves out there,” Altieri said. “People will be drawn in by big names and probably stumble across a great talent in between sets or something.”
Altieri noted that each festival (i.e. Bonnaroo, Bamboozle, Lollapalooza, Coachella, etc.) appeals to specific audiences and demographics.
“Bamboozle: the bands that play typically bring in a lot of younger teens that like that kind of punk rock (except for when Motley Crue played this year…and Journey two years ago,” she said. “While I'll admit that Bonnaroo's not that widely advertised, I think that it does have a certain appeal to people who don't appreciate what they consider "mainstream" music.”
“I mean, Bonnaroo I would say has a very laid back indie jam-fest vibe,” she added. “There are always bands that don't fit the stereotype. But I feel like someone traveling there ONLY to see bands or artists with the same kind of sound as Eminem will be disappointed.”
Lollapalooza, set for Chicago this August, will also headline with Eminem, but will have appearances by Muse, Arctic Monkeys and newcomer Christina Perri, as well as The Chain Gang of 1974, recently profiled in College Magazine.
However, Altieri sees the future of these shows leaning more toward the mainstream.
“As more “Z100 artists” (as I call them – bands or artists with popular hits on the radio) perform at these festivals, the younger the audiences will get,” she said. Currently, “college students would most likely be the ones to travel for these festivals.”
One of these travelers was Adam Offitzer, a rising sophomore journalism major at the University of Maryland. Although he had never been to Bonnaroo, he was very excited about the festival. “I was attracted by the incredible, diverse lineup the festival together, along with the festival's seemingly unique culture and experience.” He road tripped down to the show with four friends.
In addition to headliner Arcade Fire, Offitzer enjoyed seeing bands of other genres. “I [was] also excited for The Strokes, Mumford & Sons, and Cold War Kids on the indie rock front. As for rap artists, I [was] excited for Childish Gambino, J.Cole, Lil' Wayne and Eminem. But there are so many more eclectic bands and artists I [was] excited for and I [couldn’t] wait to see them all.”