Women in Music 2019

Bonnaroo 2014's Five Least Attended Acts: Which Ones Were Worth Watching?

Photo: Josh Brasted, WireImage
Meghan Tonjes performs at Bonnaroo on June 15, 2014.

We saw the five artists that were the least "checked-in" on the Bonnaroo app. Check our notes on the music discovery experience.

While most music lovers head to Bonnaroo due to the pull of the main stage acts, the more intrepid concertgoers know to check out some of the small stages in search of promising lesser-known artists. Before the masses headed down to Manchester, Tenn. this weekend, the official Bonnaroo festival app allowed users to "check in" to performances ahead of time, in order to announce their music-watching intentions and see which performers were the "most scheduled" of the weekend. Not surprisingly, headliners Elton John, Kanye West and Jack White were among the most scheduled artists of this year's fest, with over 20,000 checking in to each main stage extravaganza. But what about the "least scheduled" artists -- those scrappy groups playing to crowds that statistics indicated were going to be tiny? Who were these artists out of the 300 listed performers at Bonnaroo, why were they the least scheduled, and did they deserve to have less than 100 people "check in" to their shows?

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After taking a look at Bonnaroo's interactive schedule and seeing how fans planned their music routes, we decided to witness the top five "least liked" artists at Bonnaroo, and see how they stacked up with the rest of the weekend's performers. Will one of these artists springboard from their tiny setup and eventually return to 'Roo on a main stage, as Umphrey's McGee and the Black Keys have both done? Check out our breakdown of the five acts below. (Note: we didn't count the DJs spinning at the Silent Disco, who were also among the least scheduled artists at Bonnaroo.)

1. Ogya
Thursday, June 12
Solar Stage
How Many Scheduled? 94 people

After throwing up their tents and hustling onto the grounds, 'Rooers entered the park ready to dance, party and have a great time for the next four nights. If the first show they saw was Ogya (pronounced oh-ja), an Afrobeat band from nearby Chattanooga that performed at Bonnaroo last year (watch the video from 2013 above), then they definitely got off to a strong start. After launching into their "Welcome Song," the collective quickly inspired the curious crowd to get up and stretch their legs. After playing a couple extended Afrobeat jams, Ogya switched up their routine by launching into a Middle Eastern groove, and two tattooed belly dancers completed the scene. By the end of the set, which concluded with a sumptuous reggae cut, the Solar Stage crowd was sweaty and well-primed for a long weekend of dancing.

2. James Bay
Thursday, June 12
New Music on Tap Lounge
How Many Scheduled? 93 people

Later on Thursday afternoon, 23-year-old Brit James Bay took the stage at the What's on Tap Miller Lite Lounge and proceeded to switch back and forth between acoustic and electric guitars. While few members of the crowd seemed to know who Bay was -- apparently, the singer-songwriter hadn't been asked to perform at 'Roo until the previous day, and wasn't on the printed schedules -- he certainly didn't seem to mind the anonymity. Repeatedly telling listeners how "cool" everything was, Bay bared his soul to the unaware crowd with a collection of personal songs that resembled The Tallest Man on Earth's oeuvre, but with more electric riffs. With hair that stretched to his shoulders and a black hat covering his head, Bay resembled a "Sea Change"-era Beck, and the audience embraced the personal last-minute performance.

3. DJ Alpha Trion & The Bonnaroo B-Boys
Friday, June 13
Solar Stage
How Many Scheduled? 90 people

Our dive into Bonnaroo's unknown continued on Friday when we returned to the Solar Stage for DJ Alpha Trion and the Bonnaroo B-Boys. As the name suggests, the B-Boys are a group of break dancers who do their spins and flips to the musical stylings of Atlanta funk enthusiast Alpha Trion. While the dancers were energetic, the same couldn't be said for much of the crowd, who shrugged off the DJ performance. Perhaps all the 'Rooers who typically watch breakdancing groups were busy losing their minds at the concurrent Janelle Monae set on the main stage? We'll never know for sure…

4. Jennifer Sullivan
Sunday, June 15
Sonic Stage
How Many Scheduled? 94 people

By the time Sunday rolled around, the crowds were definitely beginning to thin for the early shows. Jennifer Sullivan, a Texas native with a debut album, "Somethin' New," to promote, took the Sonic Stage in the heat of the 1:00 PM sun and tried to rile up some energy from the weary crowd, but most onlookers ended up staying in the shade of a nearby tree. Sullivan boasted about being able to play 10 or so instruments, and shuffled through even more musical styles during her set, including Honky-tonk country, Americana, and tunes that sounded like Sublime or Norah Jones B-sides. The jack-of-all-trades act kept most of the crowd from wandering off in search of greener sounds, and no one seemed to mind questionable lyrics like, "My boyfriend is a 'Yes,' I think he's the best!"

5. Meghan Tonjes
Sunday, June 15
New Music on Tap Lounge
How Many Scheduled? 74 people

Our last "unknown" of the weekend was Meghan Tonjes, a YouTube star who landed at the festival after winning an "Escape To Bonnaroo" contest with her song "Affected." Tonjes' gentle acoustic guitar strumming provided a sharp contrast to the outspoken personality that she displayed between songs. After fighting through the sound bleed of Lucero at the nearby Which Stage for the first part of her set, Tonjes kept the crowd engrossed with stories about the terrible men who have played a part in her life -- as well as an unexpected cover of Lloyd's "Get It Shawty." If Lilith Fair ever returns, the sharp-tongued, sweet-sounding Tonjes would be a perfect candidate for an early slot.

Billboard's Bonnaroo 2014 Video

Backstage at Lollapalooza 2014



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