Bonnaroo Music Festival 2017 lineup. Photo by: Bonnaroo
Bonnaroo Music Festival 2017 lineup. Photo by: Bonnaroo

Bonnaroo Scores Big with Chance the Rapper, Big Gigantic, Marshmello, Umphrey's McGee, The Strumbellas, Greensky Bluegrass and +100 Artists

The Bonnaroo Music Festival announced their 2017 lineup today with U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weeknd and Chance the Rapper headlining the festival in Manchester, Tennessee.

The booking staff is probably thinking, ‘if we book big, mainstream acts, it will help sell tickets.’ If music festivals were arenas and large venues in major cities, that logic might make sense. Since these festivals are different environments, music fans expect a unique lineup to check out in a unique live setting.


Most of the other media outlets, are staying away from being critical on this lineup, but I want to take an in-depth look at some of the acts, and how to make this lineup shine.

If you want to stand out in a sea of music festival lineups, it is important to think differently. Even as headlining acts, it is key to conduct unique experiences, especially at the Bonnaroo Music Festival.

To give some insight, I’m going to review some of the bands, and how I would book them for maximum impact. Just to be clear, these are only suggestions to help the festival.


One of the most unique elements to Bonnaroo Music Festival 2017 is the New Orleans-inspired superjam session. After attending multiple superjams, I understand what makes them memorable. From Bonnaroo 2002 to 2017, the one thing people want to see is a chance to see musicians perform together, (that might not normally have the chance to work with one another,) with rehearsed material on stage.

The Superjam has been on Saturday night recently to give additional depth to that section of the festival. With that being said, U2 will probably headline Friday, and the RHCP or The Weeknd will get Saturday and Sunday billing. I see the festival having RHCP close down the event with a bigger bang.

So, that leaves us with The Weeknd as a possible headliner on Saturday. I would have him work one or two songs in the Superjam with the Preservation Hall Band doing the music to his songs to let his vocals shine.

After opening with The Weeknd for the Superjam, I would have Big Gigantic move over from a collaborative live set on the What Stage following Chance the Rapper, and have them conduct the half of the Superjam. If Umphrey’s McGee also performs on Saturday, I would give them one hour of the Superjam to call the shots, and give Big Gigantic an hour. Stream the latest music by Big Gigantic with the Winter Mix Volume III via Soundcloud.


U2, an Irish rock band, formed originally in 1976, will embark on the #U2TheJoshuaTree2017 tour with a stop at the Bonnaroo Music Festival.

People commenting on social media, downplay U2, but with a tour highlighting their material from the album Joshua Tree, it creates depth for their set. To layer this live show, I would check with bands that are performing on Friday and Saturday, (U2 is scheduled for a show on Sunday,) to see which musicians could learn songs from Joshua Tree, and work with U2 to get as much on stage collaboration as possible.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

The California-based rock group continues to impress worldwide audiences. Their summer tour has already sold out Madison Square Garden, the STAPLES Center, (both for three night runs,) and many other arenas across North America.

With RHCP being such a massive act, I would book them for multiple acoustic sets on the Solar Stage at random, posted on social media, as well as with physical signs around the festival grounds.

Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper should headline every single night. His latest album Coloring Book has redefined independent hip-hop, and is one of the most talented new artists on the lineup. Stream the album via Soundcloud.

Aside giving Chance as much time as possible on the What Stage, I would also book him with multiple electronic producers, such as Marshmello, Big Gigantic, Major Lazer, and many others. It would be excellent to have Chance and Big Gigantic do an entire set of collaborative music. I would have Big Gigantic follow Chance on the What Stage similar to how Jay Z followed Stevie Wonder, but in contrast to those two shows, bring Chance back out for half a set of music with Big Gigantic after a 3.5 hour set of his music.

Major Lazer

This is one of the hottest sets without guest spots. If I were to switch up a Major Lazer set, I would have them setup a mobile stage for shorter sets of music during their day at the festival. It would be creative to have them do a 15 minute set in the camping area during the day, then a 30 minute set on a small side stage, and continue to build the energy and excitement for a 2-3 hour late night set.


The Australian electronic producer has blown up over the past few years, and continues to electrify international audiences. Tove Lo and Flume recently worked on the track ‘Say It’ available to stream on YouTube below.

It would make sense for these to musicians to perform on the same day at Bonnaroo Music Festival 2017. Additionally, it would excellent to have them release a new collaborative track during one of their live sets.

In general, live acts should release new material at Bonnaroo. Film festivals are exciting because filmmakers release new content. I suggest musicians work with this positive trend of pop culture.


Switch up your live performance for Bonnaroo. Invite the Preservation Hall Jazz Band up for her set. Let her vocals shine. It would be memorable.

The festival has a Bluegrass Superjam as well that is usually a highlight of onstage musicianship.

Overall, most acts stick with a standard performance for their tours, but within the world of improvisation, let your freak flag fly.

Bonnaroo at 15: The Masterminds Behind the Festival

Bonnaroo Music Festival 2017 Tickets

Grab tickets to the 2017 Bonnaroo Music Festival via their main website.

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Matthew McGuire is the founder and editor of Crescent Vale News. In 2014, he acquired a master's degree in Professional Media and Media Management from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.