So many bands –36 to be exact— so little time. Though music festivals are the perfect place to submerge yourself into the unknown with crazy fans, eccentric sets and hours of fun, getting to know every single band is not an easy feat. Trust me, I know. In this ultimate musical guide to First City Fest you can learn a little bit about each band and check out choice tracks.
2:40-3:30 | Blitzen Trapper – This Portland experimental country/folk quintet offers strong Americana, guitar-based melodies, while simultaneously combining funk and blues with pumping bass lines and a weeping harmonica in their songs. Check out their single “Furr” to get a taste of their style.
4-4:40 | The Hold Steady – This Brooklyn rock ‘n’ roll band offers lyrically dense story telling with hard-hitting guitar riffs and the occasional spoken word style. With such flexible elements cemented into the band’s style, the listener can form their own path as the brutally honest lyrics escape singer Craig Finn’s mouth. If ever there would be a mosh pit at First City Fest, it would be during this set. Check out their track “The Weekenders.”
5:10-5:55 | Okkervil River - A slight melancholic tone haunts this Indie rock band from Austin, Tex. With a sweeping baritone giving way into slightly optimistic melodies with cheerful drums, the silver lining is found in their songs like “Lost Coastlines.” If you’re looking for a great indie-folk/rock band, Okkervil River will be a must see, unless you’re off watching the striking soulful duo Quadron, who plays at the same time on the Manzanita stage.
6:25-7:15 | Beach House - This dream-pop duo from Baltimore have captivated the hearts of many with their euphoric synth melodies and breathy vocal harmonies. Though perfectly complex in their own way, the songs tend to blend together. Therefore Beach House’s set may have to be skipped as it conflicts with Denver duo Tennis, which – though the obvious underdog in comparison— will offer more musical diversity to new fans. Check out Beach House’s “Myth.”
7:45-8:45 | MGMT –Known for their eccentric, and slightly morbid style, this psychedelic rock duo skyrocketed to popularity in 2008 with their single “Kids” – and with good reason. The honest yet unsettling lyrics hover over a trance-inducing melody, offering a sweet balance.
9:15-10:45 | Passion Pit - The Massachusetts indie-pop band infuses lyrical depth with synthpop melodies and playful beats that allow you to let loose and eccentrically dance as you sing along to their infectious tunes. Check out their video for their 2012 single, “Take a Walk.”
1:15-1:50 | Eli PB Reed – Bragging gospel-styled, soulful vocals, Eli Paperboy Reed will pose as an interest point for anyone who gravitates towards horn-filled rhythm and blues. Though sometimes over-zealous, if you can look past the uncanny similarity to Cee Lo Green’s voice, you’ll find Reed’s smooth guitars and dynamic style infectious and hard to overlook. Check out his track “The Satisfier” which sounds like a morphing of James Brown and Jimi Hendrix.
2:20-3 | Delta Rae – This blue-eyed soul, folk rock band formed in Durham, North Carolina reverberates with power-house vocals and group harmonies. Smooth voices partnered with skilled, powerful drums give their set-time competition, Blitzen Trapper, a run for their money. Check out their heart-filled, brutally honest (anything-but) love song “If I Loved You.”
3:30-4:10 | The Black Angels – This neo-psychedelic rock band from Austin, Tex. offers a mind-altering effect of their own as guitars fade in and out and vocals encompass an unsettling, surreal dreamy tone. One of the more esoteric bands on the First City Fest lineup, it’s hard to imagine non-psychadelic fans enjoying The Black Angels. Check out their track “Bad Vibrations” to decide for yourself.
4:40-5:25 | Civil Twilight – Creeping synthesizers, building falsettos and cascading guitar riffs come together to form a rather enjoyable concoction. This Cape Town alternative-rock band hits you directly in the heart and the eardrum with climactic melodies and lyrical depth. Check out their track “Quiet in My Town.”
5:55-6:40 | Father John Misty – Originally an indie folk singer from Baltimore, ex-Fleet Foxes member Joshua Tillman oscillates between the natural tones of the acoustic guitar and more progressive synthesizers with his new musical project Father John Misty. Check out his video for “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” which features actress Aubrey Plaza.
7:10-8 | Delta Spirit – Slightly grungy guitars, gruff vocals with underlying roots influenced melodies reside within Delta Spirit. The indie-rock band—originally from Southern California now from New York—is not afraid to roam from their folky rock ‘n’ roll sound, occasionally dabbing into a more pop sound. Check out their track “People, Turn Around.”
8:30-9:30 | Washed Out – If elevator music was amped up with synthesizers, Washed Out’s “Feel It All Around” would result. Relaxing, atmospheric and easy to listen to, this chillwave artist would be a great set to catch between MGMT and Passion Pit Saturday night.
1:45-2:20 | Jeffertitti’s Nile – They describe themselves as transcendental space-punk doo-wop but what exactly does that mean? The driving basslines and distorted melodies combined with the echo-y, almost lost vocals make this act easy to skip. But if you’re into this muddled punk check out “Mountain Jam.”
2:50-3:25 | Guy Blakeslee (Entrance) – Guy Blakeslee has branched out from his psychedelic rock band, Entrance, to explore a more classical guitar sound in his track “Amandita” which features tremolos as beautiful and rejuvenating as the first day of spring. Surreal and euphoric, Blakeslee is worth giving a listen to. Click here to check him out.
3:55-4:35 | Guards – Not particularly exceptional, this indie rock trio from New York falls short of the glory of their opposing set-time team The Hold Steady. Though they give a valiant effort with accessible lyrics and up-tempo rhythms, the latter will deliver a stronger set. See for yourself; check out their song “Do It Again.”
5:05-5:50 | Quadron – If the femme fatale took musical form, Quadron would be it. Dangerously captivating, the Danish neo-soul duo ensnares you with sweet, soulful vocals and playful melodies full of energetic keyboards, cheerful beats and lingering synthesizers. Check out their single “Hey Love.”
6:30-7:20 | Tennis – This indie pop duo from Denver, made up of husband-and-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, entraps the loveliness and comfort that comes with marriage. They offer hazy yet sweet doo-wop styled vocals over simple yet enjoyable melodies. Check out their single “Marathon.”
2:40-3:30 | The Antlers – Skillful falsettos resonate from this Brooklyn based indie rock band as words addressing the turmoil of failed love seep through singer Peter Silberman’s mouth in “I Don’t Want Love.” Their songs often resembling sweet lullabies musically with a darker tone in the lyrics, The Antlers knock The Dodos out of the water during this set time.
4-4:40 | Dr. Dog - Great hooks, disjointed melodies and rudimentary recordings set this West Grove, Penn. rock band apart. Check out their video for “Lonesome” but beware: you just may have the opening line stuck in your head for days.
5:10-5:55 | Devendra Banhart – This Venezuelan-American psych-folk artist features hip-swaying latin tunes and melodies soothing that are almost appealing enough to overlook the strange vocals. Almost…but not quite enough. Give his music a listen for yourself and decide whether you can look past the voice to the essence of the song. Check out his track “Mi Negrita.”
6:25-7:15 | Toro y Moi – Hi-Lo harmonies and electronic loops surround this solo synthpop/ex-chillwave artist from South Carolina. Falling beats splashed with disco-esque funk make Toro y Moi one of the more appealing electronic artists at this year’s First City Fest. Check out the video for his track “New Beat.”
7:45-8:45 | Neko Case – If you are a fan of Best Coast or First-Aid Kit, then be sure to check out this set. The New Pornographers ex-member Neko Case’s soulful voice triggers any nostalgic hair on your body as her falsetto pivots into your ear drum. Check out “I Wish I Was The Moon.”
9:15-10:45 | Modest Mouse - Going on 20 years of being an active band, Modest Mouse's experimental rock melodies featuring specifically tousled tunes have carried them through. Check out their 2004 single “Float On” which was later sampled by Lupe Fiasco for the massive 2010 single “The Show Goes On.”
1:15-1:50 | Bleached – This psychedelic pop duo comprised of sisters Jennifer and Jessie Clavin combine quick-tempoed drums and deep vocals that cling to the crux of punk. Distortion and a slight hint of hallucinogenic tones widen the appeal of Bleached. Check out their video for “Dead in Your Head.”
2:20-3 | The Dodos – These Bay Area natives feature quick-paced instrumentals and vocals that are cleverly eased into each song. Known for their non-traditional approach to instrumentation, The Dodos are sure to put on an interesting, skilled set. Check out their easy-on-the-ears, folky track “Walking.”
3:30-4:10 | Capital Cities –With a full repertoire of dance songs, this Indie pop duo from Los Angeles, California are sure to keep you energized. Their dance anthem "Safe and Sound" will have you with your hands in the air and body bobbing to the synthpop descant and recurrent beat.
4:40-5:25 | Electric Guest – If you’re in the mood to shake and shimmy or sway along to reverberating bass tones, then Electric Guest is a must see. With alluring vocals and finger-snapping beats intertwined with an upbeat, jazzy vibe, this fairly new group is quickly earning a foothold in the indie music scene. Check out their music video for "This Head I Hold."
5:55-6:40 | Lucero - Slightly reminiscent of ‘90s alternative with singer Ben Nichol’s throaty, rich vocals, this country-punk rock band serves as a double-edged sword offering the best of both worlds: lyrical density of the country genre with the sweet guitar licks of rock n’ roll. Lucero will quench any thirst you may have for rural guitars and heart-wrenching stories of dissipating love. Check out their track “Nights Like These.”
7:10-8:00 | Deerhunter – The five-piece group originating from Atlanta, Georgia features a punk sound watered down with indie guitar riffs that travel between light and dark tones. Often distorted with a slight bite, Deerhunter is one of the choice artists to be seen at this year’s First City Festival. Check out their track “Leather Jacket” to get a taste.
8:30-9:30 | Purity Ring – If dubstep and indie-pop had a lovechild, Canadian dream pop duo Purity Ring would result. Megan Jame’s pixie-like voice is carried over a river of heavy synths and playful keys creating a euphoric state of being. Check out their video for “Fineshrine.”
1:45-2:20 | Light Fantastic – If California could be encompassed in a band, Light Fantastic would be a sliver of that. Their songs reflect the dreamy, elated sensations one gets from a sunny day in the golden state. Check out their track “These Quarters” to feel the Cali vibes.
2:50-3:25 | Seventeen Evergreen – This San Francisco duo intertwines psychedelic synths with solid yet breathy vocals. Complimentary and contradicting all at once, Seventeen Evergreen are worth giving a listen to but not worth missing The Antlers or The Dodos whose set times all conflict. Check out their track “Polarity Song.”
3:55-4:35 | Akron/Family –Dynamic to a tee, this experimental rock group displays their bluesy influence through high-ranging vocals and rumbling guitars. Check out their slow and heartfelt track “Don’t Be Afraid, You’re Already Dead.”
5:05-5:50 | Generationals – You can expect many finger-snapping, woo-inducing jingles from this indie-rock duo from New Orleans. Often providing increments of danceable music joint with falsettos and sporadic beats, Generationals is a worthy second choice to Electric Guest, whose set clashes with their first half. Check out their track “When They Fight, They Fight.”
6:30-7:20 | Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks – Avey Tare’s newest musical endeavor, Slasher Flicks, will be more of an expansion on his previous work rather than anything innovative. Sticking to what he knows best, this experimental rock musician keeps the bizarre, mind-altering elements to his music with a darker twist. Check out Slasher Flicks perform “Strange Colores” live in Jun. of this year.