While major acts and headliners like Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beach Boys and Phish always draw the masses out to the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, it's discovering new acts that's the true joy of the four-day festival down on the farm in Manchester, Tenn.
British singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka is one of Bonnaroo's more buzzed-about down-list acts, but he isn't the only rising performer worth fighting the crowds, heat and dust (or downpours) to check out. Here's a look at five more (in alphabetical order) as the festival kicks off Thursday:
_ Alabama Shakes: Though not officially a headliner, the live dynamos from north Alabama have been given a primo late-night set time Thursday that should sync up nicely with the thousands of fans who've not yet even begun to party. Expect volcanic singer Brittany Howard to emerge a star.
_ Danny Brown: With his Flock of Seagulls hair style and slightly psychotic vocal delivery, the Detroit rapper is weird _ and no one likes weird more than Bonnaroovians. With an early evening time slot before Kendrick Lamar and Yelawolf, expect many thousands to dig Brown's oddball vibe.
_ Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires: The old-school survivor is finding success in his 60s and leading a regular soul revival at Bonnaroo, where Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Darondo, Soul Rebels, Little Dragon and more will lift your spirits. Bradley plays Saturday.
_ Robert Ellis: The Texas singer-songwriter is playing in front of large crowds for the first time this summer with slots opening for Willie Nelson and Paul Simon along with Friday and Saturday performances at Bonnaroo. His blend of upbeat honky-tonk and deep folk should earn him a bigger stage next year.
_ Flying Lotus: Already well known in electronic circles, the California producer of mind-bending, spacey beats is a Thom Yorke favorite. Could the Radiohead frontman stick around after his band's Friday night headlining slot for his friend's early Saturday morning set, bringing thousands of new listeners with him?