Summer Music Festival Tale of the Tape: Firefly vs. Bonnaroo

The line ups for two of the bigger music festivals of this summer were announced yesterday and that dull noise you hear from the office next to you is people hemming and hawing, wondering which one they should go too- Bonnaroo or Firefly. Do you want to see Tom Petty in the shadow of Dover Downs Raceway in Delaware or amongst the rolling hills of Tennessee? Is your tolerance for mindless self indulgence three days or four days? How do you feel about seeing Billy Idol live?

With Bonnaroo happening over the weekend of June 13th and Firefly going down the next weekend, it’s possible to do both. But it’s also possible to juggle machetes. Just because something’s possible doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

In all actuality, you’ll have to pick one or the other. And that’s where Giddy Up America is here to help.

Giddy Up America’s Summer Music Festival Tale of the Tape

Firefly: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Bonnaroo: Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Advantage: Bonnaroo
It’s pretty tough for Firefly to top a line up that is capped off by a former Beatle. Plus there’s no denying the unstoppable juggernaut that is Mumford & Sons. If Petty is taken out of the equation, there is no way the Chili Peppers are better than McCartney and the Mumford boys.

Under Card Bands
Firefly: Vampire Weekend, Foster the People, the Avett Brothers, Passion Pit, the Lumineers, Alabama Shakes
Bonnaroo: Wilco, Bjork, R. Kelly, Wu Tang Clan, Grizzly Bear, Of Monsters & Men, Pretty Lights
Advantage: Firefly
This is damn close to a toss up with Firefly’s cohesive and fluid line up giving it the slight edge. Take out those bands playing both festivals and Firefly gets the nod. Plus, I’m not sure there’s that many people looking to camp out and see an R. Kelly show.

Wild Cards (great live acts, head-scratchers, giant question marks)
Firefly: Japandroids, Dr. Dog, Wild Belle, Big Gigantic, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, Dispatch
Bonnaroo: Jim James‘ Soul Super Jam (featuring John Oates & the Preservation Hall Jazz Band,) Gaslight Anthem, Daniel Tosh, Local Natives, Japandroids, Animal Collective
Advantage: Toss Up
Firefly’s line up is extremely top heavy, which helps it stay in the race here as it’s hard to compete with a Super Jam led by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James (who is also performing a solo set.) Going against Bonnaroo is that whether or not all of Wu Tang will show up is a definite Wild Card, unfortunately a negative one.

Ability to Keep the Hip Hop Heads Happy?
Firefly: Kendrick Lamar, Public Enemy
Bonnaroo: Wu Tang, Lamar, A.S.A.P. Rocky, Nas, Big K.R.I.T., Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Advantage: Bonnaroo
I guess if you’re on the East Coast and looking for some great live hip hop, the Roots Picnic up in Philly is more your scene and the better bet.

Living Legends in Attendance
Firefly: Petty, Public Enemy
Bonnaroo: McCartney, Petty, Billy Idol, Wu Tang, ZZ Top
Advantage: Bonnaroo
Sorry Firefly, but Bonnaroo blows you out the water here- even if it’s disputable whether or not Idol is a living legend or not. Hell it’s disputable if you even knew he was still alive, let alone a legend.

Average Price to Go
Firefly: $230
Bonnaroo: $240
Advantage: Bonnaroo
Bonnaroo is the better bang for your buck, especially when you consider it’s four days as opposed to three days.

Firefly: Dover, Delaware
Bonnaroo: Manchester, Tennessee
Advantage: Firefly
Tax free shopping is always an advantage. As are legal fireworks. Both narrowly edge Bonnaroo’s close proximity to Nashville, unofficially one of the most entertaining cities in the country.

State Pride
Firefly: Vice President Joe Biden
Bonnaroo: Former Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt
Advantage: Firefly
It doesn’t how many wins you may have, you’re not beating Diamond Joe.

Firefly: This will be year 2
Bonnaroo: This will be year 12
Advantage: Bonnaroo
Bonnaroo has become the Kobe Bryant of summer music festivals- you can’t believe it’s been around as long as it has and that it’s still as productive as it is. Plus parts of it scares the shit out of you.

What Your Co-Workers Will Think When You Peace Out for a Couple Days
Firefly: You’re a nature lover
Bonnaroo: You’re a damn dirty hippie.
Advantage: Firefly
When you’ve been around as long as Bonnaroo, it’s hard to dodge negative stereotypes.

In the end, Bonnaroo narrowly edges out Firefly as the winner, although that’s by no means a knock on Firefly. The festival’s organizers stepped their game up this year and get props for trying to make Delaware a destination for summer festival goers. But no matter which one you choose, you’re bound to have a good time.

You’re also bound to get heat stroke, almost drink someone’s urine and get a wicked sunburn that won’t go away all summer.

But hey, have fun!

Tickets for Firefly go on sale on February 21st, while tickets for Bonnaroo go on sale on February 23rd.

Categories: 2013, Music

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2 replies


  1. The Greatest HBO Character of All Time | Giddy Up, America
  2. The Story of 2013 | GIDDY UP AMERICA

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