Since its inauguration in 2002, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival has slowly evolved from its jam band roots into a diverse monster of a music festival. Now, in 2008, the festival is at its most eclectic with artists ranging from gypsy punks Gogol Bordello to rappers Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco.
The initial line-up for the 2008 festival was announced on Feb. 5 by the festival organizers. Most prominently on the bill are headliners Pearl Jam and Metallica, who had both long been rumored as performers for the festival. Metallica in particular was tied to an insider tip that surfaced in December which also named Led Zeppelin as a confirmed act on the bill.
Zeppelin, who recently reunited in a one-off gig in London, was suspiciously absent from the line-up, although Led Zep singer Robert Plant is performing with Alison Krauss in support of their collaboration record, “Raising Sand.” But the festival isn’t without a Led Zeppelin presence: all-girl tribute band Lez Zeppelin is scheduled to play.
“There will be Zeppelin at Bonnaroo and I think it will surprise people,” said Lez Zeppelin guitar player Steph Paynes. “And there’s a twist. It’s all girls. It’s a female singer. We’re disciples in a way, of the band; I think we understand the certain elements that are important.”
The band, which author Chuck Klosterman said could be “the most powerful all-female band in rock history,” was booked some time after the Zeppelin rumors fired up, but Paynes is not confident that the real deal will perform at the festival.
“It’s not going to happen,” said Paynes about the rumors. “Everyone concocts the impossible scenario, it doesn’t matter what facts you feed somebody. It doesn’t matter what truth you print, they still want to believe what they want to believe.”
As far as rumors go, however, the Led Zeppelin one still has legs. Only 80 artists were announced, compared to 117 in 2007. Among all of the Bonnaroo stages in 2007, a total of 137 artists, bands and comedians performed, leaving more than 50 artists to be announced. Little over a week after the initial announcement, comedian Chris Rock was added to the main stage and more is expected to come in the future.
Though they aren’t legendary British rock bands, artists also performing include Jack Johnson, My Morning Jacket, Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Folds, Sigur Rós, Talib Kweli, Rilo Kiley, Aimee Mann, The Avett Brothers, José González, Battles, !!! and Vampire Weekend. Willie Nelson has also been confirmed after being forced to cancel his 2004 Bonnaroo appearance due to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Tickets for the festival are only available through www.bonnaroo.com. The first set of tickets went on sale Feb. 16 at the starting price of $209.50 each plus service and shipping charges. As each pricing tier runs out, prices will increase “without notice” to $229.50, then to $244.50. An optional DVD containing highlights of the 2008 festival is also available for a limited time at $9.95.