Rites of Spring 2014—Who Might Be Coming?

Image courtesy of Consequence of Sound

In 2011, I predicted that Kid Cudi would headline Rites of Spring, based on the similar success he and Drake were having at the time and Drake’s performance the previous year.  In 2012, I predicted Wiz Khalifa would headline, again based on his break-through hip-hop success that was similar to Drake and Cudi.  I further predicted that MUTEMATH would be coming that year, albeit not as the Friday-night headliner they ended up being, based on their fall, winter, and spring tours all circumventing Nashville while traveling through the southeast (they had to come here sometime).  On the other hand, I failed marvelously at predicting what the 2013 Rites lineup might look like, following my previous trend of looking at breakthrough rap success to peg Kendrick Lamar, who ended up coming for Quake this past fall.  In short, over my four years at Vandy, making Rites artist predictions has become a hobby of mine, much in the same way that people make predictions for Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and so many others of the festivals that have become so popular throughout the country.

Of course, all of these predictions and guesses were made in the relative comfort of my friendgroup, where no one would give me too much grief if I was wildly offbase and drinks would be had in my honor if I happened to be correct.  They’re much more forgiving than the scores that swim the internet waters, but this year I decided to up the stakes by sharing my predictions in a public forum.  Please note that I hold no affiliation with the Music Group or any other arm of the Vanderbilt Programming Board, and that I have no sources for my predictions other than the reasoning presented in my own words to you.  These are a couple of my personal hopes, dreams, and deductions presented to a wide audience, for glory or for shame.


It is quite unfortunate for us that Rites happens to fall in line with one weekend or the other of the annual Coachella festival in Indio, California.  With all of Coachella’s notoriety, most of the large name bands that would be within the Rites budget are those that would appear in the mid- to low-billings of the Coachella lineup.  However, a Friday date at Rites has been shown to be possible with a Sunday date at ‘Chella, with The National and Fitz & The Tantrums fitting the profile for Rites 2011 and 2012, respectively.  Looking at the Sunday performers in this year’s lineup and eliminating those that already have tour dates in Nashville this spring, two names jump out, both of them Brits—John Newman and Frank Turner.  Newman is a soulman, the voice behind Rudimental’s dance-y “Feel The Love,” and his song “Love Me Again” has recently gotten some Top-40 radio station love stateside.  Frank Turner is a folk-punk rocker with an affinity for playing fun covers in his live performances (check the video below of him playing Postal Service’s “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”), and tracks “Recovery” and “The Way I Tend To Be” from his 2013 album Tape Deck Heart have been getting airplay love from Lightning 100.  My personal preference would be to get Frank Turner out here (I was raised on Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez records so I have quite the soft spot for folkies), but I think that if we’re going to poach an artist from Coachella, the pick is John Newman due to the recent popularity of soul-inspired songs from artists such as Bruno Mars and Robin Thicke and the varied soundscapes he is able to produce within that context.

Local Flavors

The lineup will probably feature multiple local bands; they’re cheap to book and numerous.  There are three that I’m really hoping to see on there and seem likely.  The first is Promised Land Sound, who were named Best New Local Band in Nashville Scene’s 2013 Best of Nashville; they’ve got a great southern rock/blues sound that would be perfect for an early afternoon Rites set, and would slot in nicely there in terms of notoriety as their career is just launching.

The local band that’s more of a stretch but I’m hoping to see is JEFF The Brotherhood.  JEFF is composed of brothers Jake (on vocals and a very unique guitar) and Jamin (on drums), and have opened for bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers on international tours.  It’s a stretch because they play straight, thumping, garage rock reminiscent of Ramones mixed with a little White Stripes, and crowds at their shows always involve a mosh pit, which could be seen as a liability by the Music Group.  On the other hand, they recently announced work on a new album, and garage rock forms such a large portion of the local, homegrown Nashville music scene that VPB would be smart to not ignore.  Finally, the Freakin’ Weekend lineup is totally devoid of JEFF, who have been a headliner the past two editions; a big local show has to be coming.

Finally, Moon Taxi have been producing solid southern rock/Americana music for a few years now and launch into an Eastern-US tour in April, strangely of devoid of any dates in their home town.  However, it includes a nice gap between an April 10th date in Oxford, Mississippi and and April 13th showing at the Tortuga Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale, FL; a detour through Nashville for Rites certainly makes sense.

Mr. Rap Attack

I’ve already detailed past precedent on rap artists having a place at Rites, often at or near the top of the lineup, and despite my whiff on looking for Kendrick to come last year, Juvenile still backed that notion up.  So, who could be coming this year?  Chance The Rapper most certainly fits the bill for the up-and-coming rapper that I like to look for, but as his Acid Rap is a mixtape, it might not have the notoriety among a general body of students and the Nashville populace to attract a crowd.  Looking at other names out there, 2Chainz jumped out at me as someone that could be a rap headliner and would draw a crowd.  A strong debut with Based On A T.R.U. Story has fizzled as far as airtime with his follow-up effort, B.O.A.T.S.: Me Time, but the quality and hit potential remain the same while likely bringing down the cost to book him from where it would have been last year into a range that Rites can do for a headliner.  Additionally, I cannot recall him coming to Nashville for any shows and he has no Nashville shows booked.  If Rites wants to go back to having a hip-hop headliner, my thought goes immediately to 2Chainz.  Now, he does have about a week gap in his tour schedule where he moves from Kentucky to Texas, so something might get added there and screw this logic up, but for now he looks like a good possibility to me.


As far as straight predictions go, that’s what I’ve got to give right now.  I’ve got more hopes and dreams out there—I’m looking at you, Vampire Weekend, my dream indie headliner that looks to be available—but these are the ones that look feasible and probable enough for me to publish them with my name next to them to avoid potential future public shaming. Looking forward to a good final Rites, regardless of the artists that do come; it is a unique experience that has fostered some of my best memories at Vanderbilt.  See y’all there.

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