Whenever the line up for a big festival is released, everyone is always talking about the headliners. However, there are a lot more than just the headliners performing. You have nearly 100 bands performing over the course of three days, and there is a good chance that there is an amazing band in the bottom half of the bill that you will love, but you’re going to miss. Don’t do that. You paid your $250. You should get your money’s worth. Come out early. (Also, the food lines are so much shorter before 3 PM)
1.) Kopecky Family Band
Sadly, we aren’t dealing with a group of brothers, sisters, and cousins in the blood relation sense. However, they are still an amazing indie pop band with a summery sensibility. I can’t imagine a better environment than seeing them outside in one of the most beautiful parks in America.
2.) Social Studies
It’s a good year for Social Studies. Well, every year is a good year for social studies, as it was my favorite subject in grade school. <rimshot> They’ve got a lot going for them, having been the only band invited to play Noise Pop, Phono del Sol, and Outside Lands in the same year! Why does everyone want them playing their festival? There’s only one way to find out. And you should find out soon, before you are stuck finding out from the back row of Oracle Arena. (You don’t see Social Studies on the calendar above? That’s because they were added later. You can find them on this one.)
Fishbone are legends. It’s a little depressing to see them billed so low on the festival. They were the heaviest of the second wave ska bands, and were a huge influence on the 3rd wave scene, and if they never happened, Sunday night headliner’s Red Hot Chili Peppers may have been a folk group. They also are one of the few bands to appear on both Soul Train and Headbangers Ball.
4.) Foy Vance
I distinctly remember the first time I heard Foy Vance. It was my first SXSW, and I was just trying to get my bearings on the whole thing. I was feeling tried and a bit hungry, and we found an event that was sparsely attended with seats and free food. It was the perfect event! So I sat down with a bowl full of delicious potato salad, and ended up being entranced by Irish folk singer Foy Vance. It was delicate and chilling. I believe that you will experience the same thing during his set.
5.) Wild Belle
In 2011, I saw Wild Belle six times. This is the record for the most times I have ever seen a band in a twelve-month period. Why did I see them so many times? Because they are amazing. Their blend of reggae, afrobeat, indie, and french pop is pure sugar for the ears. Plus, lead singer Natalie Bergman’s voice is eerily close to Amy Winehouse’s.
6.) Deap Vally
Do you like loud music? Do you like searing, fuzzed out guitars and primal bluesy drums? Do you like your music both sexy and a little dangerous? Of course you do!
7.) King Tuff
Three years ago or so, I got a text from a friend that was at a show at Rickshaw Stop. The text simply read: “Holy SHIT! Why aren’t you watching King Tuff right now?!?!” After listening to their psych garage rock, I was intrigued. After learning about their stage show? Well, that you’re gonna have to see for yourself.
8.) MS MR
Equal parts disco and trip hop, MS MR have been on the road, wowing crowds continuously for the last year straight, opening for the likes of Marina & The Diamonds, CSS, and Phoenix, among others. They are finally headlining shows; however, San Francisco gets them for Outside Lands instead. This means you have a well oiled music machine for your listening and dancing pleasure.
9.) The Heavy
The Heavy are a band that should be playing arenas. Their classic soul sound is designed for the biggest rooms you can imagine. This band will instigate mass sweaty dancing, and are about as much fun as one could possibly have.
10.) The Men
The Men are a New York band that sound like a 00’s Britpop band trying to sound like a 70’s New York punk band. That isn’t a bad thing… They have the snotty angst of The Dead Boys combined with the hooks of The Arctic Monkeys.
Honorable Mention: Bring The Rock with Greg Behrendt and The Reigning Monarchs
The good folks at SF Sketchfest have managed to make a better line up for The Barbary stage every year. This year has a lot of good stuff, but the show I’m most excited about is “Bring The Rock.” Stand Up Comic and Writer Greg Behrendt is the brainchild of this event, a brilliant fusion of comedy and rock. Take a popular stand up comic, and have them talk about an experience with a specific song or band, and then they perform the song with Behrendt’s brilliant surf punk band, The Reigning Monarchs.