Bonnaroo for the Jam Band Fan
Sets You'll Probably Catch: With the relative scarcity of improvised rock this year, it's easy to forget that Bonnaroo started out as something of a glorified jam jamboree. Fortunately, the spirit of the Seventies, in all its cosmic country-rock glory, still flourishes in Los Angeles performer-producer Jonathan Wilson, who looms large on Thursday afternoon. Umphrey's McGee, who played the first Bonnaroo back in 2002, return with a mid-afternoon set of experimental double-guitar shredding and dance beats. Former Allman Brothers Band guitarist Derek Trucks, helms one of Bonnaroo's two kitchen-sink Superjams with guests Chaka Khan, Taj Mahal, David Hidalgo, and others. Skrillex supervises an even headier version with livetronica gamers Big Gigantic and the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart among his guests. The Dead's bluegrass roots extend into Yonder Mountain String Band's lightning-fast riffs, and their extended blues riffs into the John Butler Trio. If the jam scene really does have a future, it might be in the tightly wound, Beefheart-tinged twang of Austin's White Denim.
You Might Also Like: Everything? As a member of Bonnaroo's most open-minded contingent, you'll want to check out radical Nigeria scion Seun Kuti, who now leads father Fela's big Egypt 80 orchestra, then attend his Friday Cinema Tent Q&A for an Afrobeat history lesson. Roots-minded jazzbos will love pianist Jon Batiste & Stay Human's smart neo-traditionalist take on New Orleans' Preservation Hall sound. At least one member of Umphrey's McGee, bassist Ryan Stasik, is an outspoken Mastodon fan; and you can find out why Friday night. Expect Quickie Mart to cram a Disco Biscuits gig's worth of beats into his Silent Disco DJ on Thursday. And anyone still in need of a good head-fucking should set their alarm for the early-Sunday morning (1:55 a.m.) screening of the late Harold Ramis's Groundhog Day.
Best-Kept Secret: With their masked female singers, afrodelic drummers, and extended guitar solos, the sublime Swedish trance-rock group Goat will envelop you in its vortex.