See our recommendations below. For the short of it, see our fantasy schedules
Brooklyn's Rubblebucket could quite possibly be a genetic experiment gone terribly right — an experiment to engineer the perfect Bonnaroo band, and not in an obnoxious way. With horns, sundry percussion, bright colors and giant robot puppets (at least they had giant robot puppets when they played South by Southwest in March), Rubblebucket fuses indie rock, world music and shiny dance pop, landing somewhere between Cyndi Lauper, Graceland and LCD Soundsystem. Just how you want to start your weekend, if you're looking for spectacle and good vibes. 4:30 p.m. at The Solar Stage; also Friday, 2:15 p.m. at The Sonic Stage and Friday, 10:40 p.m. at Great Taste Lounge D. PATRICK RODGERS
This Detroit MC has been ruling our year, and we can't think of a better way to kick off the hip-hop schedule at this installment of the 'Roo. Brown makes party records for twisted geniuses or, er, geniuses getting twisted. Lyrically dense, thematically unpredictable and verbally dexterous, Brown is the Galileo of the new Golden Age of Cold Gettin' Stupid, cranking out stridently noncommercial yet unstoppably fun hip-hop. 7 p.m. at This Tent SEAN L. MALONEY
DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR.
This Detroit band has a silly name, but they also have a riotous, thrilling live show. Onstage, co-frontmen Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein take their catchy, melancholy songs and turn the volume way up. Their brand of beat-laden, digitally assisted indie rock should be the perfect fit for the early-arriving Bonnaroo masses looking to get the party started. Let's hope Zott and Epstein bring their bubble machines. 7:15 p.m. at The Other Tent; also Friday, noon at The Sonic Stage LEE STABERT
Hells yeah, that's our boy! Well, not really "our boy" in the "we've actually talked to him" sense, but we're more than stoked that this local-by-association MC is about to pop a trunk on Coffee County. Yela's 2011 album Radioactive was one of our favorites — he basically owned the Nashville-based music fest SoundLand, and the safe money is on him blowing up Bonnaroo in a similar manner. Actually, it's a guarantee that Yela's gonna blow this bad boy up, because that's what the dude does. 8:30 p.m. at This Tent SEAN L. MALONEY
BRIAN POSEHN, PETE HOLMES & MORE
Like many comedians, the bearded, bespectacled Brian Posehn gets a lot of mileage out of his grossness. It might not be right, but it is true: Gorgeous people rarely spend as much time alone in their rooms coming up with hilarious jokes. Posehn, who you might know from his days raising robot babies on The Sarah Silverman Program, is especially engaging when he's riffing on his love of heavy metal music. Slayer! 10 p.m. and midnight at the Comedy Theatre LEE STABERT
Few bands in the Bonnaroo lineup showcase the festival's progressive nature better than Phantogram. Equally influenced by legendary hip-hop producer J. Dilla and shoegazey indie rockers like Slowdive, the duo of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel plays densely layered pop songs with explosive indie-pop-tronica dance-party potential. If you're not into Kendrick Lamar, you need to be here. 10:15 p.m. at The Other Tent LANCE CONZETT
In less time than it takes to gestate a baby, the Alabama Shakes have pinned the needle on the viral hype machine, had a debut record enter the Billboard Top 20 and toured opening for Jack White. Closing out a tent stage on opening night — when fully energized festivalgoers are peaking at fever pitch for the first time — isn't just a pretty fuckin' sweet time slot for the band, it's a coronation. With neo-Muscle Shoals sonics, alt-rock dynamics and a frontwoman hell-bent on channeling Janis Joplin and Otis Redding in the same breath, the Shakes seem almost a tailor-made, modern Monterey Pop-worthy staple on the festival circuit. 11:30 p.m. at This Tent ADAM GOLD
Murfreesboro stalwarts Glossary play music — rollicking, earthy, enthusiastic — that was made for festival season. Frontman Joey Knieser sings about the pull of nostalgia and "holding onto rock 'n' roll" while perfectly capturing the texture of late-summer Southern evenings. Their latest, Long Live All of Us, tosses in some sunny vintage verve, most notably on the infectious lead track "Trouble Won't Last Always," a song that pulses with jaunty piano and sly guitar work. 11:30 p.m. at Great Taste Lounge LEE STABERT
If you were in the right place at the right time during last year's Bonnaroo, you'd have seen Nashville's foremost club-pop duo Cherub performing atop an RV in the wee hours of the morning. This year, the band will bring their sexy meld of computer funk and dance pop to a proper stage with a slightly better time slot. 1 a.m. at Great Taste Lounge SETH GRAVES
There are two ways to watch tUnE-yArDs, the freak-folk project by Merrill Garbus with an infuriatingly stylized name. On one hand, it's fascinating to watch Garbus build her intricately constructed, Afrobeat-inspired pop songs from scratch with nothing more than her voice, a Frankenstein percussion rig and the mother of all loop pedals. But on the other hand? It's dance music for the terminally polka-dotted — a quirky freak-out that takes time to build but pays off big. 1:45 p.m. at This Tent LANCE CONZETT
MARC MARON, JUDAH FRIEDLANDER & MORE
Pop quiz: It's Saturday afternoon and you have been beaten into a lobstery pulp by the sun. What do you do? No, don't make mud angels in the mist tent — that's disgusting. The correct answer is "see Marc Maron." Maron, comedy's patron saint of curmudgeonry, brings his neuroses to Bonnaroo, along with 30 Rock's Judah Friedlander and more, for what is certain to be one of the funniest comedy sets you'll see all weekend. 2:30 p.m. at the Comedy Theatre LANCE CONZETT
SHARON JONES AND THE DAP-KINGS
You can't do much better for a neo-soul figurehead than the monstrously talented Sharon Jones. With an enormous set of pipes and just about the crackest of crack bands in the biz — the Kings are Daptone Records' house band and have contributed to recordings by Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse, Michael Bublé and much more — Jones is known for being a frontwoman who carries on the tradition of the soul revue with prowess and fiery charisma. And James Brown covers. Bonus! 3 p.m. at What Stage D. PATRICK RODGERS
Caitlin Rose's wonderful full-length debut, Own Side Now, might have introduced her to the world, but Nashvillians know it was just another step in her impressive evolution from spunky, scary-talented teenage singer-songwriter to graceful, Americana-tinged crooner. Own Side Now is lush, clever and delightfully restrained, showing off Rose's wise-beyond-her-years lyrical gifts while also leaving room for her youthful, expressive voice. It's also pretty as hell. 4 p.m. at Great Taste Lounge LEE STABERT
Now this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we haul our ass out to Manchester every year: watching the best that world music has to offer on a beautiful summer afternoon. This Malian-Cuban supergroup rarely comes to the states, and when they do, they stick to ... well, only the places where you can draw a good world music crowd. Which, sadly, excludes Nashville more often than not. But Bonnaroo saves the day! As always. 4 p.m. at Which Stage SEAN L. MALONEY
AZIZ ANSARI & RORY SCOVEL
Making his third Bonnaroo appearance, actor and comedian Aziz Ansari has become kind of a mascot for the Twitter-loving, slightly dorky festivalgoer (myself included). We almost wish he wouldn't even perform, but just flit around the festival as a goodwill ambassador, bringing joy to all he meets. But nope. Ansari will be in the Comedy Theatre along with Rory Scovel. 4:30 p.m. at the Comedy Theatre ASHLEY SPURGEON
When Punch Brothers began, it was essentially mandolin whiz Chris Thile and Friends. But in the four years since their debut, they've evolved into a bona fide band. Still, Thile remains the driving force, and has the freedom to pursue more challenging and offbeat material than he could with his former (and poppier) band Nickel Creek. Case in point: the five-minute version of Radiohead's "Kid A" on Punch Brothers' latest album Who's Feeling Young Now? If you like progressive bluegrass, it doesn't get better than this. 4:45 p.m. at The Sonic Stage; also Saturday, 4 p.m. at Which Stage JACK SILVERMAN
Canadian indie chanteuse Leslie Feist is something of a critics' darling, and you'll not find too much boat-rocking going on within our ranks. When she played Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium just last month, Feist and her band — bolstered by the all-lady vocal trio Mountain Man — delivered tunes from her Let It Die, The Reminder and Metals with stunning, if mellow, skill and grace. Not necessarily the most rocking set you'll see at Bonnaroo, but it could be among the most impressive. 6:15 p.m. at Which Stage D. PATRICK RODGERS
What we gonna do? Act the fool! Last time we saw Ludacris, it was in the worst of all possible conditions — P.A at half-volume, house lights up, squeezed in between LMFAO and Black Eyed Peas — and it was one of the best sets of rap music we have ever seen. So we can only imagine how buck wild it's going to get when the dude has a sympathetic crowd of party-ready 'Roonies and the sound system turned all the way up. 6:45 p.m. at This Tent SEAN L. MALONEY
I doubt she'd choke on yours.
The story on "the Lutheran," ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, was from January. I was…
Bill, I agree. But you're messing with Betsy's MO.
That's cute, gast, and something he might have said.