10 artists playing Firefly you shouldn't miss - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Lucius at Governor’s Ball | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

This year’s Firefly Music Festival has over 100 artists playing, and there’s no way for you to know them all. With the festival only three days away, you probably don’t have time to check out all the unfamiliar bands on the list. But that’s okay. That’s what we’re here for. We took a look at some of the best non-headliner acts playing the Dover, Delaware musical extravaganza and picked out ten performers you shouldn’t miss.

1. Sky Ferreira

Sky Ferreira finally released her first album in October of last year after releasing three EPs since 2011. The album is called Night Time, My Time, and it’s one album you definitely have to check out before heading down to the Firefly festival. Every single song is a powerful punchy synthpopy jam. Check out her performance on The Late Show with David Letterman below.

2. Bad Things

I think the reason Shaun White may not have won any Olympic medals this year was because he spent too much practicing with his band, Bad Things. Which is a bad thing if you’re into Olympic snowboarding. But it’s a good thing if you love music, because his band is actually really good. If one of their guitarists wasn’t a two-time Olympic gold medalist (he did win gold in 2006 and 2010), they would still probably garner recognition because the music is good. I swear.

3. White Denim

White Denim is, like, a billion different genres of music combined into one. Usually that doesn’t work out, but for White Denim, it does. Their Wikipedia page refers to them as a band that draws influence from dub, psychedelic rock, blues, punk rock, progressive rock, soul, jazz, and experimental rock, all of which, I’d say, is pretty accurate. All of them are fantastic musicians, which makes for great jam style music. Check out this awesome performance by them on KEXP:

4. Kongos

Kongos is notable for their song “Come With Me Now.”  If you know any of their stuff, you probably know that song. It’s been featured in a various commercials and tv shows and stuff. It’s from their only album (so far), entitled Lunatic.  However, they have other good songs too. Also they have an accordion player. So, that’s cool. Check out the music video for “I’m Only Joking” below.

5. New Politics

New Politics plays the type of music I typically don’t like, except for when they play it. I was first exposed to the band, who happens to be from Copenhagen, Denmark, when I heard their hit “Harlem” on the NHL 14 soundtrack which my roommate always challenged me to (I lost pretty much every game). It’s the epitome of a song that’s instantly catchy and gets stuck in your head.  These guys are a band you should miss not only because they write great tunes, but they’re really good at performing live.  See what I mean below.

6. F. Stokes

F. Stokes is a rapper who hails from Chicago’s South Side. He’s notable not only because he’s a great rapper, but because the flowing and groovy music underneath the rapping. He’s got two albums out, Death of a Handsome Bride and Fearless Beauty, and both have been well received. F. Stokes’ meaningful lyrics make for great poetry, making his music appealing even to those who typically aren’t avid fans of rap. “The GO” is definitely a song you should check out.

7. Courtney Barnett

Take the lyricism of The Hold Steady, mix it with the music of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and then maybe add a dab of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. The musical combination’s ensuing result is Courtney Barnett. Her music sounds as if she wrote a whole bunch of lyrics and crammed them into her songs, regardless of whether they fit or not — but it works. My favorite lyric is “the paramedic thinks I’m clever ’cause I play guitar / I think she’s clever ’cause she stops people dying,” from the song “Avant Gardner.” Feast your eyes upon a fabulous live performance of this song that Courtney did during a World Cafe session.

8. Lucius

Lucius is an indie pop/rock band Brooklyn that writes pretty amazing music. Even Paul Krugman likes them (To be fair, Krugman has a pretty great taste in music. In fact, he posts “Friday Night Music” columns every Friday night on his New York Times blog. If you’re a fan of good music and Keynesian economics, you should check it out). Anyway, Lucius currently only has one album out, Wildewoman, which was pretty well received, however, they’re one of those bands you can’t truly appreciate until you witness their amazing live show. They’re a live band for sure. Oh, and by the way, they’ll be playing XPN’s XPoNential Festival in late July. So you should see them then too.

9. San Fermin

San Fermin is an eight-member baroque pop band whose main songwriter, the Yale-educated Ellis Ludwig-Leone, writes music that is deep and emotional, but is equally catchy at the same time. Their self-titled debut album was released last year, and garnered praise from outlets such as Pitchfork and PopMatters. “Sonsick” is a fantastic display of the band’s musicianship, and especially singer Rae Cassidy’s vocal abilities and range, which you should listen to below.

10. Bleachers

Bleachers is the brainchild of Jack Antanoff, who’s probably better known for his other band, Fun. But Bleachers is his other thing, which he does solo, and it’s also really cool. He started the band while touring with Fun, just writing songs because he felt like it. Those songs eventually became the first Bleachers album, one of which is called “I Wanna Get Better.” It has a funny music video you should look at.

Firefly Music Festival begins on Thursday afternoon, June 19th. Tickets and information can be found here.

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