15 bands to check out at The Fest (whose schedule is posted)
by Andrew Sacher
In a little less than two months, a huge handful of the best punk bands in the world will head to Gainesville, FL for The Fest (10/31-11/2), a three-day multi-venue festival (similar to CMJ or SXSW, but more genre-specific). There are so many bands worth catching, including Descendents, Mineral, Melvins, Paint It Black, Touche Amore, Circle Takes the Square, The Menzingers, Hot Water Music, Lifetime, The Marked Men, United Nations, Kind of like Spitting, Screaming Females, Paul Collins Beat, The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, 7 Seconds, Coliseum, Thou, Into It Over It, Modern Baseball, Cayetana, Iron Chic, Restorations, Chuck Ragan, Laura Stevenson, The Sidekicks, Single Mothers, Beach Slang, You Blew It!, Everyone Everywhere, Whores, Somos, Solids, Foxing, Nona, Nai Harvest, Vacation, PUP, Lemuria, Night Birds, Placeholder, Adventures, Self Defense Family, Goodtime Boys, Xerxes, Cheap Girls, All Dogs, Little Big League, Frameworks, Dangers, Creepoid, Crow Bait, Worriers, Shellshag, Toys That Kill, Sundials, Donovan Wolfington, Places to Hide, Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate), Dikembe, Two Knights, Fake Problems, Fucking Invincible, Old Lines, Old Wounds, Rescuer, Everybody Row, Ex-Breathers, Gold-Bears, Hard Girls, The Hotelier, Prawn, Mannequin Pussy, Lee Corey Oswald, Tiny Moving Parts, Tim Barry, Delay, Chumped, Treasure Fleet, Underground Railroad to Candyland, Kepi Ghoulie, Spraynard, RVIVR, Dowsing, Jeff Rosenstock, Broadcaster, LVL UP, It Looks Sad, Lifted Bells, Annabel, Three Man Cannon, The Weaks, Courtesy Drop, Benny the Jet Rodriguez, Free Throw, Sorority Noise, Spoonboy, All Eyes West, My Dad, Aviator, The Max Levine Ensemble, Teen Agers, Typesetter and Mikey Erg... just to name a few of the ones we're excited about. The full schedule was recently posted, so if you're going to The Fest you can head HERE to make your personal schedule, and don't forget you can catch a lot of the same bands in Ybor City on 10/29 & 10/30 for Pre-Fest. That schedule is out now too.
While we'd like to see (and recommend seeing) all those bands, The Fest is also a great place to discover new bands. We've talked about all those bands at one point or another on BV (you can click the links above to read what we've said about them), so here's a new list of 15 bands to check out at The Fest that we haven't written about yet. Not all of them are "new" bands necessarily, and some have even played The Fest before, but they're all good bands that we haven't had a chance to highlight. And even if you're not going to The Fest, it's still a list of 15 bands worth listening to. We've embedded streams for each one.
Check out the list, in alphabetical order, below...
Cincinnati's Boys are -- if you're wondering -- fronted by a girl, and they also make very catchy, scratchy punk. Think The Muffs or '90s Lookout! Records and you've got a good idea of their sound, and Boys do it well. Sometimes these lo-fi punk bands can sound a little weak, but Boys have power and they sound like they're gonna put on a good show. You can catch them at The Fest on 11/1 at Boca Fiesta/Palomino with All Dogs, Chumped, Worriers, Little Big League and a bunch more.
Boys - Demo 2013
Seattle's Cumulus put out their debut album last year on Chris Walla's Trans-Records, and they make the kind of indie pop that certainly sounds like it would catch the ear of a Death Cab For Cutie member. A lot of the earlier tracks on the record are peppier and may appeal to Best Coast fans, but then they change it up for the slow-burning atmospherics of "Wanderlust" and "Fiction," the hard-driving "End of the World," and the sad acoustic ballad "Night Swimming." They're on the same Fest show as Boys at Boca Fiesta/Palomino on 11/1.
Cumulus - I Never Meant It To Be Like This
Fellow Project hail from Queens/Long Island and they're one the harder-edged punk bands on the list. They've got male/female dual vocals that kind of leave them sounding like a mix of The Measure [sa] and Drive Like Jehu. That might sound like it'd be weird, but they've actually got a really natural sound going. Their most recent LP is 2011's Stable Life, but hopefully more new stuff is on the way. They're also on the show with Boys and Cumulus at Boca Fiesta/Palomino on 11/1 (we swear we'll talk about bands on other shows too).
Fellow Project - Stable Life
The first time I ever heard of Life In Vacuum was from an email that came to my inbox that said they were recommended if I like METZ, At The Drive-In and Comadre. I don't always put something on immediately because of the RIYL, but this one grabbed me and after putting it on I was sold right away. Like METZ, they're from Canada which is where so much of the best punk has been coming from lately and these guys are just another example of The Great White North's ability to produce killer aggressive bands. They fall somewhere between the speedy noise punk of METZ, roaring post-hardcore, and fidgety post-punk. It's an excellent mix. You can catch them at The Fest on 10/31 at 1982 with Placeholder, Aviator, Everybody Row (mem Comadre) and more.
Life In Vacuum - 5
Germany's Mantar are the only band we weren't previously familiar with on a Fest bill that also includes Melvins, Coliseum, Circle Takes The Square, Thou, United Nations and Whores (11/2 at The Wooly). Needless to say, it's a crime we've been sleeping on this band. They're a bass-less two piece but with the total racket they make, they don't sound like they are. It's huge, thick guitars on top of bulldozing drums and a vocalist that sounds equally inspired by hardcore and black metal. Of all the bands on that bill, it's a great fit that they're playing with the Melvins.
Mantar - Death by Burning
Asheville's Old Flings sound like they worship at the altar of Dinosaur Jr, from the jangling distorted guitars to the slacker melodies to the rippin' solos. They do it well though, and it's a sound that never seems to go out of style. And actually, the singer's voice reminds me a lot of underrated Equal Vision band Dear and the Headlights, but they otherwise sound nothing like those guys. They recently signed to Animal Style Records (Courtesy Drop, Kite Party) and are promising their sophomore LP for early 2015, but in the meantime their 2012 debut Spite is making us pretty excited to hear what's next. They play The Fest on 11/1 at Rockey's with Late Bloomer (who they have a split with) and others.
Old Flings - Spite
Pale Angels currently include or once included Mikey Erg on drums, though we're not positive if he'll be playing with them at The Fest. (He'll be there, but one can only assume he has at least 19 other bands to play with.) Either way, Pale Angels make great noisy punk that very much deserves to be heard. In 2013 they put out an album produced by former The Men member Ben Greenberg, and it's got some the aesthetic of those early Men records. Earlier this year they put out an equally great 7" that they call a "live session," but that's pretty much what all of their recordings sound like. The new one also includes a cover of The Feelies' "Crazy Rhythms" which they make sound like a garage punk song and the results are great. You can catch them at The Fest on 10/31 at Rockey's with Lee Corey Oswald, Signals Midwest, Banquets, Timeshares and more.
Pale Angels - Strange Powers (ARC Live Session)
Orlando trio The Pauses' first and so far only album is 2011's J Robbins-produced A Cautionary Tale, and for a debut (or really just for any album), it's hella diverse. Some parts sound like the guitar-heavy indie rock of Helium, others sound like the keyboard-led indie pop of Mates of State, and others sound like St. Vincent's wacky art pop. Surprisingly, it all works. And even more surprisingly, an album this well executed has gone overlooked for three years. Hopefully it doesn't stay that way much longer. They play The Fest on 11/1 at 1982 with Three Man Cannon, The Weaks, Posture & The Grizzly and more.
The Pauses - A Cautionary Tale
For the past few years, Roger Harvey fronted the punk band White Wives (which also features 2 Anti-Flag members), but he's since gone solo and is heading in a way different direction. More influenced by Neutral Milk Hotel than Anti-Flag (his first song released was a NMH cover) Roger is now making more fleshed-out, heavily arranged and sadder sounding music. So far the only studio recording (besides the NMH cover) that he's got out is "Lovers Can Be Monsters," which sounds something like if it was Ramesh instead of Justin Vernon holed up in that cabin in the woods, and he developed a love of slide guitar. According to his bio, there's a full length debut, Twelve Houses, in the can, so hopefully that comes out soon. For now, check out the very promising single. You can catch Roger at The Fest on 10/31 at Boca Fiesta/Palomino with Delay, Nona, Gold-Bears, It Looks Sad, Mannequin Pussy and others (that's a stacked bill).
Roger Harvey & the Wild Life - "Lovers Can Be Monsters"
The first thing that may stick out about Cleveland's Runaway Brother is the singer's sorta jarring voice, but by the end of 2012's 7-song Bedhead EP, it becomes clear that they've got a real knack for songcraft and his weird voice is actually pretty cool. They're kinda folky in the way that Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse used to be kinda folky, some of Piebald and Say Anything's oddball pop punk is in there, and yes they're a little emo but not in the melodramatic 2000s way or even the '90s revival way. They followed the 2012 EP with an equally great 2-song 7" earlier this year (which comes with a that dog. cover if you purchase it), and they put out a song on a split this week. They're planning to release their debut LP in early 2015 on Tiny Engines (Beach Slang, Cayetana, The Hotelier) so stay tuned for that. Catch them at The Fest on 10/31 at High Dive with Everyone Everywhere, Somos, Prawn, Solids, Foxing, Dads, The Hotelier, Nai Harvest, and LVL UP (another stacked one).
Runaway Brother - Summer/Autumn 7" / Bedhead EP
Tennessee/North Carolina trio Sinai Vessel self-released their 2013 Profanity EP and since signed to Flannel Gurl, who will release its followup at some point in the future. Judging by this promising EP, that's something to look out for. It's lo-fi '90s-style emo with as many slow pretty parts as raw punkier parts. Anyone who likes emo for the cracking vocals and the musicianship that's a little technical but a little sloppy, this is for you. They play the same Fest show as Life In Vacuum on 10/31 at 1982 with Placeholder, Everybody Row and more.
Sinai Vessel - Profanity EP
I'm not sure how many bands playing The Fest are from France (let alone emo bands), but if you want to see at least one, you won't want to miss Sport. These guys sound like they took the fast throaty punk of Title Fight and injected it with Kinsella-style noodling. It's a combination so obvious and that works so well, I'm surprised it's not something that happens more often. It's easy to get tired of the Kinsella-style emo bands -- like garage rock or doom metal, it's a genre where the point is sort of to do something that's been done before -- but Sport really do feel like a breath of fresh air. Their newest LP, this year's Bon Voyage, is 28 minutes long but it feels like 14. The first time I heard it I immediately hit repeat. Plus, they pull a Jawbreaker and sample an 18-year old movie on the album (in Sport's case, Fargo). Catch Sport at The Fest on 11/2 at High Dive with Bob Nanna's The City On Film (full band), Hard Girls, Shinobu, Broadcaster, Jeff Rosenstock, The Smith Street Band and more.
Sport - Bon Voyage
Brooklyn's Young Ladies are a new-ish band who feature members of some older bands, including the great '90s punk band Discount (which notably included a pre-The Kills/The Dead Weather Alison Mosshart on vocals), '00s punk band Latterman, Bridge & Tunnel (they're still active) and more. They've got a debut LP titled We Get By on the way, but so far they've only put out two of its songs, "Without You" and "Head Back Home," which sound like the kind of classic melodic punk you'd expect from a band with a resume like Young Ladies. They don't reinvent the wheel (not that many punk bands with two and a half minute songs do), but they're good at what they do and if you're into this kinda thing you'll probably dig it. You can catch them at The Fest on 10/31 at Durty Nelly's with Tiny Moving Parts (playing a Bruce Springsteen cover set for Halloween), Spruce Bringsteen (that's actually the real name of a band on this bill) and more.
Young Ladies - "Without You" / "Head Back Home"
I mentioned that Old Flings sound like they worship at the altar of Dinosaur Jr, but Hollston, MA's The Young Leaves (who play the same Fest show as Old Flings) definitely do. Husker Du too, and they're not shy about that. And while those bands did know their way around a hook (in some songs more than others), one thing setting The Young Leaves apart from them is they inject their Du/Dino worship with a big sense of power pop. They can sound at times like the Huskers covering Elvis Costello, or for a less wordy comparison, Weezer. (In fact, part of the melody in The Young Leaves' "I'd Rather Be Hurt" is a dead ringer for "Jamie.") But while The Young Leaves don't claim to be a unique band, they do sound like a very fun one and those sugary choruses aren't going to leave your head anytime soon. Check out their newest LP, 2013's Alive and Well.
The Young Leaves - Alive and Well
One good thing about The Fest, besides seeing the bands that come from all over the world, is the chance to hear about some of the smaller Florida bands, like Orlando's Wet Nurse. Their debut LP, Daily Whatever, came out back in 2012 and it revels in the sounds of both '60s girl groups and '60s garage rock, and probably the Ramones who reveled in both of those things too. If you wish Vivian Girls were still around, there's a chance Wet Nurse will be up your alley. You can catch them at The Fest on 11/2 at 1982 with Teen Agers, Protagonist and more.
Wet Nurse - Daily Whatever