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Bonnaroo 2019 is here: 10 non-headliners not to miss

Bonnaroo starts TODAY (6/13) and runs through Sunday (6/16), and this is the first time advance sales have sold out in six years, so if you’re going to the Tennessee fest this year, there’s a good chance you’re already there. There are lots of big names on the lineup this year that we probably don’t need to suggest you see like Phish (playing three sets total, one of which is streaming online for free 6/16), Childish Gambino, Solange, Brockhampton, Cardi B, Kacey Musgraves, The National, Courtney Barnett, Beach House, and more, but if you’re looking to make some last-minute decisions about which comparatively smaller/less obvious acts to catch, we’ve put together a list of 10 we recommend.

Read on for the list…

THE COMET IS COMING (Thursday at 11 PM in This Tent)

The Comet is Coming at Mercury Lounge
The Comet Is Coming at Mercury Lounge in March (photo by P Squared)

The Comet Is Coming is one of the many projects of current-day UK jazz leader Shabaka Hutchings (who also leads Sons of Kemet and Shabaka and the Ancestors), and it’s his most spacey and psychedelic. They recently released their great sophomore album Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery, which is a real head trip (and features Kate Tempest on a song), and their live show is energetic, groovy, and jam-filled, and Shakaba is a performer who truly deserves to be seen.

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ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER (Thursday at 9:15 PM in This Tent)

Governors Ball 2019 - Friday
RBCF @ GovBall 2019 (more by Toby Tenenbaum)

Australia’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have been honing their craft with near constant touring over the last couple years, and are a well-oiled, exciting live unit at this point, a year after releasing their great 2018 debut Hope Downs. The group feature three singer-guitarists who trade off singing, sometimes from verse to bridge to chorus, which is a cool dynamic you don’t see a whole lot of these days, and their songs — like “Mainland,” “French Press,” and “Talking Straight” — are big hook delivery devices.

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SABA (Thursday night at 1 AM in That Tent)

Saba at Irving Plaza
Saba at Irving Plaza in May (photo by P Squared)

Chicago rapper Saba had been on the rise for years, but he had his most major breakthrough yet with last year’s Care For Me, a powerful album inspired by the death of his cousin (and fellow Pivot Gang member) Walter that was one of the best rap albums of 2018. This year, he kept the momentum going with a great new Pivot Gang album which sees Saba and his friends in a less serious mode, just having fun, and coming out with more great music in the process. Saba’s as sharp an MC on stage as he is in the studio, so his late-night set is sure to be a great one.

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CHERRY GLAZERR (Friday at 2:45 PM in This Tent)

Cherry Glazerr at Mercury Lounge
Cherry Glazerr at Mercury Lounge (more by Ellen Qbertplaya)

Cherry Glazerr figured out their sound and became great live band with their excellent second album Apocalypstick and refined that sound on this year’s Stuffed & Ready. Clementine Creevy writes big, anthemic ’90s-style rock songs that sound great at a festival, and her mischievous, playful sense of humor really comes across with their live shows which can be unpredictable, in a good way, too.

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PARQUET COURTS (Friday at 4:30 PM in This Tent)

Lollapalooza 2018 - Friday
Parquet Courts @ Lollapalooza 2018 (more by James Richards IV)

With seven albums under their belt in less than a decade, New York’s Parquet Courts are seasoned vets while still being a relatively young band, which gives them a big well of great songs to pull from and the energy to consistently pull off a fun show. (Their recent show at Central Park was great.) They’re also still on a creative streak, with last year’s Wide Awake! being one of their best. That album’s funky title track, which usually involves a few guests coming out to join them, has become a highlight of Parquet Courts’ live sets, which have recently kicked off with Light Up Gold‘s one-two punch of “Master of My Craft” and “Borrowed Time.”

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GOJIRA (Friday at 8 PM in This Tent)

Gojira at Brooklyn Steel
Gojira at Brooklyn Steel in 2017 (photo by Mathieu Bredeau)

There are just two metal bands playing Bonnaroo this year, and they both play Friday. First up are proggy French vets Gojira, who are about to spend the summer touring with Slipknot, so this is a chance to presumably see them a little more up close and personal. If you like heavy music at all, it’s a no brainer to catch these guys, but even if you’re just metal-curious, we suggest catching Gojira’s set. Nothing else at Bonnaroo this year is like it, and these guys have long proved themselves as masters of their craft.

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DEAFHEAVEN (Friday night at midnight in That Tent)

Deafheaven at Brooklyn Steel
Deafheaven at Brooklyn Steel in 2018 (photo by Ester Segretto)

The other metal band playing Bonnaroo is one that much more frequently crosses over into the indie/alt world that the Bonnaroo lineup is heavy on, Deafheaven. It’s easy to see why: their approach to modern, atmospheric black metal incorporates everything from post-rock to shoegaze to emo to indie rock, and their last album brought in a significant amount of clean vocals and has a song that got more than a few Smashing Pumpkins comparisons. Deafheaven are a truly genre-defying band, one who have long appealed to metalheads and non-metalheads alike, and as good as their albums are, their live show is arguably even better.

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LITTLE SIMZ (Saturday at 1:15 PM in This Tent)

Afropunk 2017 - Saturday
Little Simz at Afropunk 2017 (photo by P Squared)

UK rapper Little Simz’s new album GREY Area is one of this year’s very best rap albums so far (if not the best), and it’s the kind of album that can be forceful and menacing on one song but tender and sentimental on the next. Simz is a masterful MC, and if you don’t believe us, believe Lauryn Hill and Kendrick Lamar, both of whom have co-signed her. Kendrick said she “might be the illest doing it right now” a few years back, and she’s only gotten better since.

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KIKAGAKU MOYO (Sunday at 12:30 PM in That Tent)

kikagaku-moyo

Japanese psychedelic group Kikagaku Moyo’s 2018 album Masana Temples was a breakthrough for the band, combining folk, jazzy sunshine pop, groovy krautrock, noisy wig-outs and more. Their popularity, though, rests entirely on their dynamic live show that really plays up the band’s excellent musicianship and their ability to stretch a groove out beyond the breaking point. (Plus: electric sitar!) That live show caught the attention of Khruangbin who are having them open on part of their 2019 tour. Kikagaku Moyo’s set is early on the final day of Bonnaroo, but worth getting there for.

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BOMBINO (Sunday at 1:45 PM in That Tent)

Bombino
Bombino

Nigerian guitar virtuoso Bombino puts a rock spin on traditional Tuareg music that’s earned him a great deal of crossover success in the English-language rock world; some of his fans include Dirty Projectors’ Dave Longstreth and The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, both of whom have produced albums for him. Bombino’s latest album, though, is 2018’s Deran, which was his first album made in Africa in nearly a decade, and it was a reminder that he doesn’t need a big-name American producer for his guitar jams to be effective. Bombinbo can really shred, and especially at a place like Bonnaroo which has a jam-friendly history, he’s the kind of guy you don’t wanna sleep on seeing if you have the chance.

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See the full Bonnaroo lineup and schedule HERE. Photos of Bonnaroo 2018 are in the gallery above.

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