Our Picks For The Must-See Acts at This Weekend's Index Festival in Deep Ellum.
With over 70 bands performing on nine stages spread out all across Deep Ellum this Friday and Saturday, the second edition of Spune Productions' just-launched-last-year Index Festival is going to be a bigger affair this time through. That's an undeniable truth.
But here's the age-old question: How much does size matter?
Last year's inaugural lineup was a stout one featuring such names as Grimes, Washed Out, Portugal. The Man, Cold War Kids, Heartless Bastards, Surfer Blood and GZA. This year's lineup? It's probably a little more mainstream than even that one.
Plus, it's definitely deeper, if only by default. And, truly, that's where the 2013 version of the Index Festival is looking like a special affair: Now, with six additional venues throwing their stages into the mix, Spune has been able to bring a certain level of mid-range talents that it just couldn't logistically offer at last year's go.
That's not to say that this year's headlining acts aren't worth catching — they certainly are. The point here is that, at this year's affair, the acts most worth seeing won't necessarily be the ones playing the main, outdoor stages.
So, with that in mind, we asked nine of our contributors to share with our readers the one act they're most looking forward to seeing this weekend. You can read those picks below. But, by all means, keep in mind that, sometimes, it's the acts that aren't earning top billing that deserve your attention most. It's telling, we think, that only five of the nine names our writers submitted for this piece are main stage performers.
Run The Jewels
Friday (6 p.m.)
Red Hook Stage
After releasing two of 2012's best rap albums — Cancer for Cure and R.A.P. Music — it would have been understandable if frequent collaborators El-P and Killer Mike decided to take a bit of breather. Luckily, they didn't, deciding instead to team up to form Run the Jewels, a two-MC, one-producer tour de force. Check out the album — it's available as a free download — then make sure and show up by 6 on Friday to catch the pair on the Red Hook Stage. If Killer Mike's raucous 35 Denton this past March set is any indication, this one shouldn't disappoint. — Stephen Young
Friday (8:45 p.m.)
Goose Island Stage
If you've never seen Andrew Bird perform live, trust us, you're going to be floored when you finally do. The guy's more than just musical genius; he's a total pro, and his live shows reflect as much as he switches from his trademark violin to his guitar and glockenspiel and back. And then there's the whistling. So much whistling! And he's great at that, too. His music is a little folky, a little poppy, a lot inventive, and, well, just downright ethereal. Also? His lyrics came make even the most apocalyptic subject sound winsome. Let's just put it this way: Bird's albums are the ones that you want to put on repeat. And his live show is one you won't want to miss. — Jordyn Walters
Rania Khoury & The Stone Wolves
Friday (9:30 p.m.)
Though the distinction gets thrown around a lot, nobody else around town currently deserves the “best artist you probably haven't heard of but most definitely should” tag more than Arlington native Rania Khoury. As prim and polished as the backing play on her 18-months-in-the-making, August-released debut, Stone Wolf is, it is Khoury's voice that does much of the heavy lifting on the release. And live audiences will certainly be all the more impressed at her hopping back and forth between jaunty keyboard playing and plucky, finger-picked guitar work at this performance as she sets the perfect foundation for her spot-on vocal theatrics. — Cory Graves
Friday (12:13 a.m.)
It should be obvious: The Cannabinoids are a must-see act at Index Fest. The Erykah Badu-assembled improvisational hip-hop collective made up of some of the city's best producers and musicians always delivers a fantastic show with its self-described “live remix” sets. This time around, though, they'll have three special guests joining them on stage: Sam Lao, one of the fastest-rising acts in town, who will also be opening for Jessie Ware tonight at South Side Music Hall; The Outfit, TX, the trio that garnered national attention in the wake of its 2012 Starships and Rockets and is poised to release a follow up; and -topic, who's regarded by us as one of the best all-around hip-hop artists in town. Yeah, the Cannabinoids are worth checking out on their own. But with these three also in town, there's no doubt: This is a must-see set, 100 percent. — Mikel Galicia
Saturday (3:40 p.m.)
Goose Island Stage
The Baptist Generals have had a really great year. The mainstay Denton outfit's latest album — its first in 10 years, the remarkable Jackleg Devotional To The Heart — was released to pretty much universal acclaim around town, and that, really, is just the start of the band's 2013 accomplishment list. The storied Sub Pop label to which the band is signed had the band play at its 25th anniversary party out in Seattle, the group toured with the Southeast with the Mountain Goats, and, just last month, the band opened for and backed up the great Daniel Johnston at the Kessler Theater. Described as drunken folk in its band bio, the Baptist Generals' sound is much more than that. This emotive band is capable of sounding complex and fragile at once — a rare musical feat, for sure. One downside with catching the Generals at Index? The band is playing pretty early on Saturday. But, if ever there was a reason to get out to the event grounds early, it's to see this group. — Jeremy Hughes
Saturday (6:45 p.m.)
Goose Island Stage
This L.A.-based, four-piece, all-female band will straight up rock your world. Guitarist and lead vocalist Emily Kokal sucks you in with her sweet-sounding, haunting vocals. Guitarist Theresa Wayman and bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg each contribute smooth vocals, adding to the band's dreamy sound. And drummer Stella Mozgawa delivers post-punk, grooving rhythms, rounding out Warpaintâ€™s sexy, free-flowing, totally psychedelic vibe. Oh, and here's a fun fact: Formed in 2004, the band's original lineup included Kokal, Wayman, Lindberg and Lindberg's sister Shannyn Sossamon — an actress you might recognize from early 2000s films like The Rules of Attraction and A Knight's Tale — on the drums. Sure, Saossamon left the band in 2008 and was replaced by Mozgawa, and, yeah, it was probably for the better. But Sossamon's remained a close friend to the band all the same, directing the music video for “Undertow,” the breakout single from the band's 2010 debut, The Fool. — Caren Rodriguez
Saturday (8:45 p.m.)
Goose Island Stage
Girl Talk isn't really for everybody. But, even so, most people will know at least some of the samples that the DJ and mashup-artist born Greg Gillis blends into his live sets. His sets basically go like this: You'll hear a brief moment from one of your favorite pop songs mixed in alongside a smattering of other people's favorite pop songs. Does that sound like hell to you? It's not, I swear. Even the hater-est of haters will find themselves bouncing up and down at Gillis' party-like offering. And, as the music plays on, listeners will realize that the progressions Girl Talk makes between tracks is kind of genius. Somehow, whether you want it to happen or not, your mind will be blown and your butt will shake. Don't question it. Just give in and indulge. — Heather Abbott
Saturday (11:15 p.m.)
For the second time in as many years, Glassjaw returns to the region to serve as a main festival draw. And for good reason: After making waves throughout the '90s, the iconic post-hardcore outfit took a hiatus in 2004 before returning more invigorated than ever. The same, really, can be said for the kind of music the band makes, which is either experiencing something of a revival or just as great as it always was, depending on who you listen to. Regardless, here's my point: Do you enjoy ridiculously enthusiastic audiences and crowd-surfing? This is the show for you. — Dominique Goncalves
Saturday (12:30 a.m.)
The Index Festival will feature no shortage of performances from members of Minneapolis' ever-tight music community. Dessa (Friday at 11:20 p.m. at the Prophet Ballroom) and P.O.S. (Saturday at 6 p.m. on the Red Hook Stage), members of that city's ever-intriguing Doomtree collective will both be on hand this weekend, surely drawing droves of backpack hip-hop fans to their sure to be lyrically head-spinning offerings. But far more intriguing than either of those performers is Marijuana Deathsquads, a band that actually counts P.O.S. among its members. The brainchild of Gayngs mastermind Ryan Olson, this outfit also features Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson of Polica, among others. If those acts' disparate sounds have you wondering what the hell MDS is supposed to sound like, well, you're actually halfway toward getting it. This is a band without much genre affiliation; instead elements of glitch-hop, hip-hop, electronica and psychedelia all factor into this group's gnarly stew, which offers a packs a far greater head-trip punch than we've ever known the green stuff behind the band's name to. To be honest, we have no idea how it will translate to a live setting. But considering how great this band comes off on record, that makes this band's performance well worth the risk. — Pete Freedman
The second Index Festival goes down this Friday and Saturday, all across Deep Ellum. Get your tickets here.