Mumford & Sons/The Lumineers
Thankfully, if you’re a fan of these two alt-folk acts, there are plenty of similar artists to check out before you lose your mind. The Strumbellas (Sunday, 4:50 p.m.) are a Canadian sextet who crank out a driving style of country pop. The Wild Feathers’ (Sunday, 3:15 p.m.) “The Ceiling” has a catchy leading melody and harmonized vocals that are reminiscent of the two bands’ biggest hits. Speaking of catchy melodies, Bishop Briggs (Sunday, 5:35 p.m.) has got plenty of them. The Los Angeles singer-songwriter lumps in acoustic guitars and soulful vocals in her dark trip-hop-inspired songs, and the result is a progressive take on pop. Looking for a more traditional sound? Check out Hey Marseilles (Sunday, 4:10 p.m.) or local rockers Brumby (Friday, 3:40 p.m.).
Love the Portland indie-rock greats? Don’t miss Warpaint (Sunday, 7:10 p.m.). Sure, they’ve got some bone-rattling post-punk-inspired tunes, but they’ve got a lighter side, too. Listen to the airy guitars of “Undertow,” and you’ll agree. British indie rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen (Friday, 4:15 p.m.) have toured the world on the festival circuit for good reason. The poppy, off-time upstrokes of their hit track, “Kathleen,” are reminiscent of some of The Shins’ songs, such as “Simple Song” and “Australia.” And if you’re in love with The Shins’ twangy guitars, falsetto harmonies and upbeat piano hits, don’t miss The Shelters (Saturday, 3 p.m.)—they’re one of the most rockin’ hidden gems on any festival lineup this year.
Empire of the Sun
You like songs with a dancey backbone and you’re big on melody. While DJ and producer Duke Dumont (Sunday, 11:45 p.m.) may not use guitars in his live sets, he’s got both. Listen to “Need U (100%)” or “I Got U,” and lose yourself in moody, ethereal glory. You should already know Crystal Castles (Saturday, 7:40 p.m.), so we’ll spare you the explanation. EOTS’ biggest hit is undoubtedly “Walking on a Dream,” which has a huge chorus and catchy, synth-driven melody. Two acts on the bill, Jack Garratt (Friday, 6:50 p.m.) and Jess Glynne (Saturday, 5:15 p.m.) have songs that fit that bill, and they’ve got solid foundations via hard-hitting beats, just like the headliner. And if you’re just looking to dance, catch the house/techno vibes of Durante (Friday, 4:40 p.m.).
It’s tough to offer recommendations for these EDM heavyweights since their eclectic sets are all-encapsulating. Of course, we have to state the obvious DJs who favor the boomin’ low end: Keys N Krates (Friday, 9:25 p.m.), Snails (Saturday, 7:35 p.m.), Mr. Carmack (Sunday, 8:10 p.m.), Ghastly (Saturday, 6:35 p.m.), Mija (Sunday, 7:10 p.m.) and Rezz (Friday, 5:40 p.m.), but if you’re into Major Lazer’s reggae/dancehall-tinged tracks, check out Dirty Heads (Saturday, 10:35 p.m.) and Iration (Sunday, 10:50 p.m.). The two bands craft alt-reggae that isn’t quite as rambunctious as Diplo and company, but hey, give your poor ears a break before they’re pushed to their limits.
If you’re drowsy from all that folk, alt-rock legends Jane’s Addiction will wake you up. The influential ’80s band created a legacy that can still be heard in young bands today. Take Highly Suspect (Friday, 3 p.m.), for example. What they lack in flamboyance, the Massachusetts trio makes up for in fuzzy riffs, stomping drums and howling hooks. Their 2015 single “Lydia” earned a Best Rock Song Grammy nod, so they’re on the right track. The U.K.’s Band of Skulls (Sunday, 8:55 p.m.) keep things heavy with their bluesy garage rock. Fellow Brits The Heavy (Friday, 4:20 p.m.) take all of the above and make it funky with horns, soulful backup singers and James Brown-like vocals. Even if you don’t recognize their name, you’ll recognize 2009’s “How You Like Me Now?” from countless film trailers and ads.
With his slicked-back hair and even slicker tongue, the “Me, Myself & I” rapper is a tough act to emulate. He’s found a winning formula that blends radio-friendly bangers with introspective lyrics. If you favor the latter, rising talent NF (Friday, 3:05 p.m.) serves up healthy doses of depth. The Michigan spitter has a vocal tone, delivery and intensity that are strikingly similar to Eminem, but he trades the shock raps and punchlines for painfully honest expression. Songs such as the heartbreaking “How Could You Leave Us,” about his mother’s pill overdose, are why the young rapper’s fan base is quickly growing.
J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive went platinum with no features. That’s a rarity in the collaboration-driven rap world, and a fact that’s become a popular meme. Here’s another anomaly: 20-year-old Raury (Friday, 5 p.m.), who snagged a major label contract with his hip-hop/folk fusion despite not having a hit. The Georgia artist leans heavily on the guitar, rather than the drum machine, creating an unexpectedly beautiful blend of genres. Las Vegas’ own The Lique (Saturday, 3 p.m.) also paints with a broad palette of jazz, hip-hop, funk and rock. The quintet’s high-energy show will make you dance, literally—“The Frequency” demands your participation. Though their styles are different, they each possess a hip-hop core that uplifts.
The Australian beatmaker’s electro-R&B and future-bass tracks awarded him collaborations with artists such as Beck and Little Dragon on his latest release, Skin. The album also features festival act AlunaGeorge (Sunday, 10:30 p.m.), who scored an EDM-crossover smash with “You Know You Like It.” But the English tag team, composed of singer Aluna Francis’ pop vocals and producer George Reid’s far-reaching electronic sounds, have a lot more in their bag. They’ve already teased us with the tropical “I’m in Control” and girl-power anthem “Mean What I Mean” from their newest release, I Remember. The duo also appeared on Canadian groovemaster Kaytranada’s (Friday, 7:55 p.m.) 99.9%, who will treat festivalgoers to his vibrant stew of funk, R&B, hip-hop and house. Maybe Kaytranada and AlunaGeorge will perform “Together” together? Flume can drop in for a remix.