Sure, Jack Johnson, Death Cab For Cutie, and Modest Mouse are getting all the press for today’s announcement of the spring Boston Calling lineup. But a solid crew of up-and-comers that will share the stage is well worth your attention. The festival, taking place May 23-25 at City Hall Plaza, is much more rock-focused than last year’s installments, while still retaining both widespread appeal and some of the best lesser known acts. Festivals often present the perfect atmosphere for checking out new acts, so check out these rising stars that you won’t want to miss.
[Photo credit: Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff]
The prolific and nomadic folk man will provide the perfect afternoon set in Boston’s spring atmosphere. His latest, “Big Wheel and Others,” would strike gold with those who enjoy vintage rambling acoustic storytellers like Stephen Stills or even Gram Parsons, as well as more modern psych outfits like Ariel Pink and Widowspeak. Not to mention, he boasts an arsenal of very consistent material spanning over the past decade. His cool-breeze playing style should resonate with fans who tend to make the trip to Newport Folk festival every summer. Check out photos of McCoombs at the Sinclair in December.
For fans of: Bonnie “Prince” Billy, WOODS, Devendra Banhart
With a new EP out and big plans for SXSW, Pennsylvania quartet The Districts are poised for an eventful spring, so it’s only appropriate that it gets some love from Boston Calling. Elements of fingerpicking folk-rock, reverb-drenched surf-pop, and more palatable indie rock forms give the band a listenable appeal, perfect for the festival setting. To get an early sample of The Districts, you can catch the act opening for White Denim at The Sinclair for two nights in late February.
For fans of: Band of Horses, Ha Ha Tonka
Kurt Vile and the Violators
Kurt Vile got his start playing with Philly-based band The War On Drugs, but has been pursuing a solo career for the past six years, most recently releasing one of 2013’s most interesting albums, “Wakin On a Pretty Daze.” Smoothed out psychedelia mixed with jammed out alt-folk, Vile even finds ways to experiment electronically with his most recent material. With his band the Violators, he’s able to take the improvisational elements of his recordings to a different level in the live setting. Vile has roots in Boston as well, having lived in Jamaica Plain for a few years and even recording an EP with local act Sore Eros called “Jamaica Plain.”
For fans of: Real Estate, Girls, Spiritualized
Warpaint’s self-titled sophomore album, released just last week, is one of the more captivating productions of the year so far, chocked full of dark, industrial grooves and gritty forward-thinking blues-rock. The LA-based quartet grasps the indie intellect of bands like Here We Go Magic, and while it probably won’t make for the most feel-good set, the band’s music is engaging to the point that it will definitely win over a batch of newcomers.
For fans of: Beach House, Jim James, Haim
Built to Spill
Boise-based five-piece Built to Spill is probably the oldest band on the bill, having been kicking since 1993, and has definitely influenced many others who are playing the festival. So it’s difficult to consider the group a smaller act by any means. The ’90s buzz-rock legends’ allegiance to raw, guitar-fueled sounds has translated in a big way to newcomers on the rock scene like Parquet Courts and Speedy Ortiz, but hasn’t slowed over the years either. The band’s post-grunge energy has only refined over the years, making for a catalog that ranges from hooky indie pop to heavier, distorted punk romps.
for fans of: Pavement, Superchunk,
Magic Man and Tigerman WOAH!
The local options for this spring’s festival come from separate corners of the musicsphere but both have appeal that transcends niches. Magic Man, a project that originated at Tufts, has gone on to put out infectious electro-pop hits that has won the band a tour with Walk Off The Earth (who is also on the Boston Calling bill), as well as gigs with St. Lucia and spots at several other festivals this summer. For a taste of what to expect, check out the band’s latest EP “You Are Here.” Tigerman WHOA comes more from an acoustic breed, and calls Lynn its home. Danceable grassy stomps are sure to grease the wheels of the band’s early afternoon crowd, and don’t let the group’s frog-throated vocals fool you, they can write a damn good song, too.
Magic Man for fans of: MS MR, Royal Teeth, Cults
Tigerman WHOA for fans of: Deer Tick, Felice Brothers, Hot Day at the Zoo