Bon Iver Inspires Our List Of Festival Curator Hopefuls


By Zachary Swickey

Riding high on the overwhelming critical success of their self-titled sophomore release, Bon Iver are set to curate a new music festival in Paris this fall. The Chicago-based Pitchfork Music Festival is expanding overseas and asked Bon Iver to help curate the event. Seems rather fitting for singer Justin Vernon’s falsetto coo to swoon audiences in the city of love.

Vernon and his bandmates will play the La Grande Hall in the French capital as the main headliner on October 29 with Cut Copy, Kathleen Edwards and Pantha du Prince in tow and more artists expected to be announced.

Bon Iver is the latest artist to curate a music festival, a growing trend as the number of stateside festivals surges. In the last year alone, Wilco, Portishead and Animal Collective have all worked to select bands for various festivals. And, of course, there’s Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, the man we can thank for Lollapalooza – originally a touring music festival started in 1991. Lolla’ has since grown into one of the premiere festivals in the US, rocking Chicago every August. Farrell does a great job of bringing in musicians from all over the musical map, but here are five bands/artists we’d most like to see curate a festival.

The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips are notorious for their wild, psychedelic performances – frontman Wayne Coyne rolling around on top of fans in a giant human hamster ball is a concert staple. From Japan to Puyallup, Wash., the Lips are in demand all over the globe, and summer music festivals can’t seem to get enough of them. Plus, the Lips seem to love working with other bands. MGMT and Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs both appeared on their last album, Embryonic, and just this year they’ve collaborated with Neon Indian and Prefuse 73 (with more collabs on the horizon). It’s clear that the Lips are loved by fans and fellow bands alike, so could someone please just ask them to curate their own festival already?

Read on for more.

Kanye West

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny the “power” of Kanye West (pun intended). He takes rap performances, which are occasionally known to drag in live situations, to another level entirely. I don’t recall anyone having interpretive dancers on SNL before him. His personal musical taste is not confined to the realms of hip-hop either – Justin Vernon of Bon Iver prominently appeared on two tracks from Ye’s most recent album. We all know Kanye has friends and plenty of them. Heck, we’d be more than thrilled if he curated a festival strictly with his surprise guests from this year’s SXSW: Mos Def, Pusha T, Kid Cudi, John Legend and Jay-Z.

Trent Reznor

Trent Reznor was along for the ride with his musical brainchild, Nine Inch Nails, on Lollapalooza’s inaugural run in 1991 and has become familiar with every festival under the sun ever since. Synth-heavy music is as popular as ever and Reznor was at the forefront of bringing industrial music to the masses – so much so that many bands cite him as inspiration today. His personal musical tastes are eclectic – Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens and Crystal Castles – which is what you need when rounding out a festival lineup.


This one is almost too obvious, and the fact that it hasn’t happened already makes you wonder if the band would even want to. You’re not going to find an act more critically hailed than Radiohead. At Lollapalooza 2008, they played their headlining slot unopposed, because, well, anyone else playing at the same time would have little or no audience. Radiohead is also low on detractors, and we can’t imagine a single band/artist, regardless of genre, that would turn down an opportunity to play a festival organized by them. If anything, Radiohead would have problems finding enough land to put the fest on and enough Pabst Blue Ribbon to supply the audience.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Another vintage Lollapalooza act (they headlined in ’92), the Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of those fun bands that everyone seems to love (have you ever met someone who couldn’t stand them?). The Peppers are one of only a few rock acts to remain relevant for over 25 years. Any band that cites both Black Flag and James Brown as influences is bound to have a vast musical palette. Past tour mates have included Snoop Dogg, Gnarls Barkley, Mars Volta and The Foo Fighters – which sounds like a nice start to us.