While the big names on the posters get most of the attention, it's often the depth and quality of artists in the smaller print that make those triple-digit ticket prices a little more palatable. Here are a few to watch.
It’s the big names on the poster that get the most attention: The Bon Ivers, the Nationals, the David Byrnes. And in the court of public opinion, Sasquatch! Music Festival’s 2018 lineup has largely been hailed as a return to form, landing veteran indie rockers (Modest Mouse, Spoon, TV On the Radio, Neko Case), contemporary hip-hop standouts (Anderson .Paak, Vince Staples and Tyler, the Creator) and scaling back on mainstream EDM in favor of more nuanced electronic music.
But there’s more to a festival than the first three lines on the poster and it’s often the depth and quality of artists in the smaller print that justify braving the early afternoon sun and make those triple-digit ticket prices a little more palatable. Here are a few artists to watch beyond the big names.
Friday, May 25
This buzzy singer-songwriter — who once flirted with the idea of moving to Seattle to work at the Vera Project — is the best reason to arrive early on Friday. Baker’s chillingly honest navigation of depression and substance abuse issues while growing up a queer Christian woman in Memphis isn’t exactly day one turn-up fodder. But miss the rising songwriter and may your FOMO forever haunt you like one of Baker’s poignant lyrics.
One of the most thrilling voices in modern country music, Price wowed a sold-out Neptune in February with her outlaw-hearkening tunes off last year’s “All American Made.” The American badass Nashville needs right now picks bar fights with the patriarchy (“Pay Gap”) and “Cocaine Cowboys” from New York, L.A. and (ouch) Seattle who are “all hat.”
Gang of Youths
The Australian chart-toppers are finally getting their due in the States marrying Brit rock dramatics with chamber music and spurts of Springsteen-gone-punk energy.
After playing this very festival in 2011, Sub Pop’s cult-favorite indie rockers went on an extended hiatus, returning with last year’s adventurous “Cry Cry Cry.” While leading men Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner remained active with their various other projects, Wolf Parade became the reunion we didn’t know we needed, with Krug’s inimitable howl as scraggly as ever.
The Seattle riff monsters bring their ’70s rock fracas back to Sasquatch! on the day their debut album drops with major-label backing. As if one of the city’s most reliable live bands needed extra incentive to torch a stage.
Saturday, May 26
These Atlanta-spawned post-punks were responsible for one of 2017’s most exciting records, speaking truth to power through an explosive mixture of confrontational soul-rock, industrial grit and synth-punk unrest. Suicide meets Sam Cooke in this politically charged powder keg fit to spark a dystopian uprising.
Japandroids fans will want to bolt after the last power chord strikes to catch these similarly emo-tinged pop-punks who keep the chest-pounding energy rolling at the Yeti stage. The Canadian rockers’ unfortunately overlapping sets ought to be the sweatiest 90 minutes of the weekend.
No predictable, raver-tent bass drops here. This footwork innovator’s percussive fury and worldly sounds keep listeners on their toes. Jlin’s dizzyingly arrhythmic click-clacks and push-and-pull tempos made her a critical darling beyond dance music’s underground.
Former Vampire Weekend member and in-demand producer Rostam Batmanglij made good on his solo debut, pulling strings and the Middle Eastern rhythms and textures he grew up with into his kaleidoscopic art-pop tapestry.
Sunday, May 27
A welcome late addition to the lineup, buzzy bedroom-pop songwriter Sophie Allison, 20, is part of a fresh wave of talented young soul-bearers (including fellow Sasquatch! performers Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker) captivating the indie-rock world with vulnerable pop songs.
If this Nigerian-born, UK-based soul man’s latest single – the cinematic, Sam Smith-evoking “Unknown (To You)” – is any indication, Banks may not be “unknown” for long. The husky-voiced singer’s debut full-length is expected sometime this year via Darkroom/Interscope, while his latest EP hints at an electro-soul/pop vibe made for Spotify algorithms.
Tank and the Bangas
The spirited hip-hop fusionists were the talk of New Orleans long before winning last year’s Tiny Desk Contest. The dynamic quintet has since signed with a major-label imprint and earned a healthy dose of SXSW buzz this spring with an acclaimed live act infectiously weaving hip-hop, funk, soul, jazz and spoken word.
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Born after the loss of her mother, Japanese Breakfast became Oregon native Michelle Zauner’s vehicle for mournfully lush pop songs exploring grief and beyond, thrusting a down-on-her-luck musician into the indie limelight.
The Brooklyn quartet’s hushed folk-rock, marked by Adrianne Lenker’s sharp lyricism, should be a cool-down worth savoring before Sunday night’s finale. If anyone can make a festival stage feel intimate, it just might be Lenker, one of indie rock’s bright new poets.
The shoegaze vets made their triumphant return with last year’s self-titled batch of gauzy brooders, winning the critical acclaim that escaped them in the ’90s. The U.K. quintet’s first album in more than 20 years has been a hit with a generation that was in diapers during their heyday.