If you’re one of the thousands of people descending upon Manchester, Tennessee, this weekend for the 12th annual Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, then you already know this year boasts one of the fest’s strongest lineups to date. With legends like Paul McCartney, Billy Idol and Wu-Tang Clan on the bill, and opportunities to catch new favorites like the xx, Macklemore, Alt-J, and Passion Pit, it wouldn’t be hard to find yourself flocking only to the biggest stages all weekend.
To make sure you don’t miss out on some of the best bands this year’s ’Roo has to offer, we’ve rounded up a list of 10 of our favorites.
10. THE MOWGLI’S
WHO: LA’s the Mowgli’s sound like the beach-dwelling love-child of fun. and Grouplove.
WHERE: New Music On Tap Lounge, Sunday at 5:20 p.m. and the Solar Stage, Saturday at 3 p.m.
WHY: They’re one of our 100 Bands You Need To Know in 2013, their debut album, Waiting For Dawn, is right around the corner, and Lindsay Lohan is their biggest fan. Okay, maybe not the last one, but just take our word for it—they’re great.
9. CASEY CRESCENZO (of THE DEAR HUNTER)
WHO: Casey Crescenzo, frontman of the Dear Hunter and formerly (occasionally) the Receiving End Of Sirens, is performing a solo acoustic set.
WHERE: New Music On Tap Lounge, Friday at 9:20 p.m.
WHY: Crescenzo is one of the most gifted and dynamic singers and performers around, and this is a rare opportunity to see him in a stripped down, intimate setting. Expect familiar tunes, covers, and a few surprises.
8. WHITE LUNG
WHO: Female-fronted, raw, abrasive Canadian punks White Lung are here to help Bonnaroo boost their punk cred.
WHERE: Café Where?, Sunday at 7:45 p.m.
WHY: Hands down the most authentic punk act on the bill, White Lung exploded out of the Vancouver underground scene and have been turning heads with their ferocious sophomore album, Sorry, as well as their relentless DIY touring.
WHO: Sludgy stoner-metal mavens Baroness will do their best to make up for Bonnaroo’s serious lack of heavy acts on this year’s bill.
WHERE: This Tent, Sunday at 3:15 p.m.
WHY: Every fest needs an obligatory metal act, right? Lucky for you, ’Roo nabbed one of the best. If you haven’t heard their latest, Yellow & Green, it’s one of the most celebrated and intense recent releases in the alt-metal scene.
6. MAPS & ATLASES
WHO: Mathy Chicago act Maps & Atlases are perhaps one of the most underrated bands in indie rock.
WHERE: New Music On Tap Lounge, Thursday at 11:30 p.m. and Sonic Stage, Friday at 6:30 p.m.
WHY: These guys have been touring just below the mainstream radar for years—and it shows. They have the technical chops, refined sound and indie cred few of their peers can boast. In a perfect world, they’d be rocking the main stage.
5. PORTUGAL. THE MAN
WHO: On the heels of their latest album, Evil Friends, Portugal. The Man are making their third Bonnaroo appearance—this time on a much larger stage.
WHERE: Which Stage, Saturday at 4 p.m.
WHY: Like a fine wine, Portugal. The Man just seem to get better with age. Their latest release is fantastic, and their psychedelic, poppy sound is a perfect bridge between Bonaroo’s hippie-leaning roots and their eclectic, indie-leaning present.
4. DEATH GRIPS
WHO: Death Grips are a genre defying, hip hop-leaning, hardcore-tinged enigma of a band. You won’t find anyone else on the lineup quite like them.
WHERE: The Other Tent, Saturday at 2:15 p.m.
WHY: While we stand by our statement that White Lungs are the most conventionally punk band on the bill, Death Grips are, hands down, the most punk in spirit–just ask their former label. Expect one of the rowdiest, most unpredictable sets of the entire weekend.
3. TWENTY | ONE | PILOTS
WHO: Following in the path of fun. at last year’s ’Roo, twenty | one | pilots are set to make their debut at the fest, just as their national buzz is beginning to spike.
WHERE: The Other Tent, Thursday at 4:45 p.m.
WHY: Between the crossover potential of their latest album, a fall arena tour supporting Fall Out Boy, and a fanbase growing rapidly by the day, 2013 is really shaping up to be a breakout year for twenty | one | pilots.
2. VACATIONER (DJ SET)
WHO: Kenny Vasoli (The Starting Line, Person L) is DJing under his new band’s moniker, Vacationer.
WHERE: Silent Disco, Thursday and Friday at 4 p.m.
WHY: Because it’s just so damn weird. Vacationer are an indie/chillwave project, known to occasionally remix tracks, but Vasoli doesn’t usually go full-on DJ. He’s not performing at the festival otherwise, just showing up to spin tunes. If nothing else, you’ll get a look into Vasoli’s taste in dance music.
1. FRANK TURNER AND THE SLEEPING SOULS
WHO: Punk rocker turned folk singer turned unlikely Olympic ceremony opener, Frank Turner is out in support of his great new record, Tape Deck Heart.
WHERE: That Tent, Saturday 3:30 p.m.
WHY: There’s never been a better time to catch Turner. He’s on top of his game musically, he’s an unreal performer, and his ability to emotionally resound with a crowd (even on a big stage) is unparalleled. Bonus: Turner has been known to put on impromptu acoustic sets when appearing at festivals, so keep your eyes peeled!