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Bonnaroo '09 Breakouts: Four Bands to Watch

The 2009 lineup is stacked with up-and-comers - here's a guide to the must-see sets

June 11, 2009 3:34 PM ET

Before you hit the campgrounds in Manchester, Tennessee, check out a list of the four bands RS recommends adding to your already-packed schedule.

Chairlift
You know this Brooklyn trio for that too-cute song "Bruises," which was featured on an iPod commercial. But they're far darker than that tune suggests: Chairlift craft surreal electro-pop that serve as a base for singer Caroline Polachek's gorgeous, opera-trained voice. Bonus: they do a killer cover of Snoop Dogg's "Sensual Seduction."

Passion Pit
The must-see catch on Day One: this Boston crew deliver blippy, beat-savvy dance tunes anchored by vintage analog-synths and singer Michael Angelakos' wild, maniacal shrieking. Expect it to be a raging dance party and much of the crowd singing along to every word.

Dirty Projectors
Dirty Projectors are the weirdest and craziest band you will see at Bonnaroo — period. The Brooklyn crew craft brainy, shape-shifting art-rock that flirts with everything from carefully constructed classical music and knotted prog-rock to classic-rock guitar riffs and sultry R&B vocal melodies. It's no wonder, then, that David Byrne picked Dirty Projectors to play on his artist-curated stage, which also features St. Vincent and Santigold. Dirty Projectors' music doesn't always work live — just try getting your groove on to all those tempo changes in "Stillness is the Move" — but they'll pull out a couple of cool musical tricks you won't expect.

Tobacco
Tom "Tobacco" Fec normally fronts the electronic psych-rock crew Black Moth Super Rainbow. But he's doing a couple rare sets (including a late-night one on Thursday) with his solo act — and if his recent solo album Fucked Up Friends is any indication, this will be one of the sleeper sets of the fest. Fec's tunes are woozy, day-glo monsters powered by junk-shop synthesizers, hip-hop beats and Fec's heavily-vocodorized vocals. Dude's something of a shy performer: he insists on wearing masks and performing on the ground, surrounded by his synths. But he totally deserves to have a packed crowd. Do yourself a favor and shout for "Hawker Boat," one of his best tracks.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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