10 Must-See Acts at First City Festival 8/24-8/25
The end of summer festival season is fast approaching, and the West Coast is sending it off in style with two music festivals this weekend. First City Fest will be held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, once home to The Monterey Pop Festival during the Summer of Love.
In addition to musical performances, the fairgrounds will offer carnival-worthy amusements, including rides supplied by – no joke – Michael Jackson’s very own Neverland Ranch. While 300 miles south, Los Angeles will be reveling in big name headliners including My Bloody Valentine and The Breeders at FYF Festival, there will be no shortage of talent in coastal Monterey. Below are the acts we’re looking forward to catching in California.
10. Modest Mouse
Goldenvoice was kind to Modest Mouse this time around – they will be playing the festival’s closing act on Sunday night. This was an agreeable trade-off for the band, who were cut off mid-“Float On” by the same festival runners when Isaac Brock ran their set overtime at Coachella earlier this year. In June, the band cancelled their scheduled UK and European tours to work on their forthcoming album, so there will be ample opportunity for testing out new material that may have transpired since.
9. Toro Y Moi
26-year-old Toro y Moi, also known as Chaz Bundick, is one of the few R&B and hip hop embracing acts to appear in the largely alt-indie and folk lineup at First City Fest. Bundick’s third studio LP, Anything in Return, was released in January this year and is a funkier, urbanely danceable aside from the chillwave genre which Toro y Moi has become associated with.
8. Washed Out
A colleague of Toro y Moi, Ernest Greene is definitely not shying away from the use of chillwave in describing the music of Washed Out, though it can hardly be called his deliberate point of centre. His latest album, Paracosm, debuted last week via Sub Pop and is a fixed study in aural and literal beauty. Though Greene isn’t fond of heavy touring, warm and breezy Monterey proved to be far too perfect a setting for Washed Up to pass on.
7. Passion Pit
The Boston indie-pop outfit has been quite unobtrusively lighting up stages this year touring behind their 2012 album, Gossamer. Speculation following the publicized treatment of singer Michael Angelakos’ bipolar disorder last year has churned up nothing but smoke in 2013: the 26-year-old and his band have proven an unfettered dedication to performing thus far (e.g. wowing crowds at Coachella both weekends). Their headlining slot on Saturday night is among the early performances on their upcoming Fall tour.
6. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks
Avey Tare’s latest project sends the exclamatory medleys of Animal Collective to boreal realms with a roomier, inquisitive regard for sound and space. Featuring Angel Deradoorian of Dirty Projectors fame and former Pontytail drummer Jeremy Hyman, the trio has been serving lingering, mind-hugging live sets since June. Watch below (via Pitchfork).
5. The Dodos
San Francisco-based folk rockers Meric Long and Logan Kroeber are poised to release their fifth album, Carrier, on August 27 via Polyvinyl. In an interview with Rolling Stone last month, the duo stated the album was representative of a “return to their roots,” alluding to various lineup changes in the band recently. Fellow festival headliner Neko Case occasionally provided backing vocals for the group when they opened for the New Pornographers’ 2010 tour, so a reunion cameo is a possibility. Their forthcoming album is currently available at Pitchfork Advance.
New Orleans’ very own brand of venturously winsome indie rock makes subtle swipes at various country, glam-rock and alt-electronic influences, ultimately coming off as an unpredictable second cousin of Americana pop. The band released their third studio LP, Heza, in April of this year through Polyvinyl.
3. Beach House
Like every creative project they spend time with, the Maryland-based duo is devoted to the artistic sanctity of live shows. They pick and choose their appearances with care, and they’ve chosen to play both First City Fest and FYF Fest before leaving to tour in South America. The group has been involved in a number of creative projects recently, including a collaboration with fashion house Rodarte on a short film titled This Must Be The Only Fantasy, which they scored.
Back in the the earlier 2000s, when Akron/Family was just a notorious local act out of New York, the group was known to cause hours-long, conga-line inducing interactive and heavily improvised live shows. The open-minded trio embraces anything contributing to their higher-loving version of love, at least musically. Testament to this is their new album, Sub Verses, which feels as if the whole Family circa 2007’s Love is Simple took a dip in synthesizer-friendly oceans with glorious results.
1. Neko Case
Neko Case’s new album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You is due out on September 3. It is a short departure from the Vermont-based singer’s alt-country roots dating back to 1997, and a deep push into the exotic territory of country-noir which her busily striding steps led her to in 2009 and again in 2013. Case’s new material is darkly saccharine and humorous as ever, which will undoubtedly translate well in a live setting. Stream her new album via NPR First Listen.
Honorable mention: Jeffertitti’s Nile, the band of Jeff Ramuno (Father John Misty’s bass player) has occasionally featured J. Tillman on drums. Tillman will also have his own set at the festival, performing as Father John Misty.
See you in line at the Neverland Ranch swings.