The 10 Acts Most Worth Your Time During This Weekend's Festival Explosion.
Truth be told, festival season in North Texas actually kicked off some time ago.
But, really, it's this coming weekend when it finally, truly, for-real arrives thanks to two of the season's most hyped-up offerings.
Here's the thing, though, about ScoreMore's JMBLYA, which goes down tonight in Main Street Garden Park, and LiveNation's Suburbia, which goes down on Saturday and Sunday up in Plano's Oak Point Park and Nature Reserve, even if you have gripes about either of their bills: Combine them into one massive super-bill and any complaints you might have about one or the other gets thrown out the window.
Not digging too much on JMBLYA's too-streamlined focus on electronica and rap? Suburbia's got plenty of middle-of-the-road pop, rock and Americana to give you some variety. Afraid that Suburbia's lacking much edge? Well, JMBLYA answers the call there with RiFF RAFF, a performer who, one could argue, is only edge.
Point is, hand in hand, the festivals actually work pretty well together. And better than you might think. Plus, if you do attend each, you'll get some nice setting variety, too: JMBLYA (full lineup and schedule here) goes down amidts the skyscrapers in the heart of Downtown Dallas; Suburbia ((full lineup and schedule here) takes place in vacant grasslands.
The best of both worlds? Well, it's certainly not the worst.
So, with that in mind, here are the ten acts we most recommend you check out as you stage-hop about Jumbalaybia. (Surely, there's a better name, right?)
RiFF RAFF (5 p.m.). Sure, he first appeared in the public eye as a contestant on MTV's From G's and Gents, and his caricature-like persona has only ballooned from there as his music career's taken off. But as we learned when we helped bring him to town back in December, RiFF knows quite well how to work a crowd — as well as how to quash any notions that he's little more than a cartoon character. The guy's a born showman. There's a reason why he's earned cosigns from the likes of EDM guru Diplo and underground rap favorite Action Bronson. It's because he deserves them. Yes, really.
A$AP Ferg (7:15 p.m.). This Harlem-sprung self-proclaimed “Hood Pope” had himself a hell of a 2013 as his Trap Lord LP capably moved Ferg out from under the shadow of his A$AP Mob co-conspirator Rocky and set him up as a man of his own merits. Did it ever: “Shabba,” in particular, is a beast of a song, a track any rapper would kill to have in his own catalog.
Chance The Rapper (9 p.m.). Icons like Jay-Z and Kanye West aside, is there a single hip-hop act that's hotter right now than Chance The Rapper? 2013's Acid Rap more than just one of last year's best releases across any genre; it's a calling card that Chance can rest his squeaky-voices laurels upon for years to come. Not that he plans on that: Just yesterday, he released a new minimalist cut that, though not as hype as his previous efforts, encouragingly finds the rapper exploring new territory. Also, his relationship with electronic crooner James Blake is all kinds of adorable.
Surfer Blood (3:10 p.m.). It's funny: Surfer Blood's only broke on through to the national limelight in 2010, but, two albums in, they feel like industry vets. And maybe they are — they've certainly been through the ringer, that's for sure. But the fact remains: The group's debut Astro Coast LP still vibrates with all the vigor that it did upon the time of its release four year ago. And, in live settings, their catchy, surf-tinged guitar-based rock only increases in intensity.
Run The Jewels (5:50 p.m.). One of the highlights of last year's Index Fest, this collaborative effort between underground rap gods Killer Mike and El-P is still riding high off the release of its last summer-released — and free — self-titled debut. With a second album in the works and slated for release this year, it's likely that Suburbia attendees might get a taste of something new at this performance. And if not? No matter. You're still seeing two legends.
Violent Femmes (8:15 p.m.). You know them from “Blister In The Sun,” for sure. And maybe from “Add It Up,” if only due to its role in Reality Bites. But the Femmes are so much more than that, an iconic American post-punk outfit with eight albums under its belt and a new fire in its members' bellies thanks to a 2013 reunion. Also, they're all acoustic. And they still rock hard as fuck. Respect your elders, kids. They're cooler than you'll ever be.
Alabama Shakes (9:45 p.m.). Sure, they're the blues-rock band for people that hate blues rock. But frontwoman Brittany Howard is an undisputed powerhouse of a vocalist. And her band's breakthrough 2012 “Hold On” single? That song's just as neo-classic as neo-classic comes.
Reignwolf (1:55 p.m.). Here's the first thing you need to know about Reignwolf: It's just one guy — and a pretty charming one from Canada, if this combined performance and interview is any indication. So the name? it might throw you off. But not from the sound. As a performer, Jordan Cook's a raging ball of sweat wrapped in all-black leather. The muscly, one-man guitar thing's been done to death, sure. But Reignwolf, through sheer will, revives it.
Shakey Graves (5:30 p.m.). Like Reignwolf, Shakey Graves is also a one-man band. And though nowhere near as fierce in sound as Reignwolf, the man born Alejandro Rose-Garcia too stands just fine on his own, thanks. He's not one of those Americana acts that covers up shoddy songwriting by quick-paced play; his songs are the real deal. Listen, There's a reason the mayor of Austin decided a couple years back that February 9 should be celebrated as Shakey Graves Day, that's all I'm saying.
Hayes Carll (7 p.m.). No, he hasn't released any new music since 2011's stellar KMAG YOYO, but, c'mon, Hayes Carll is just the best. A hyperliterate lyricist in the vein of Rhett Miller and a vocalist crooner indebted to Ray Wylie Hubbard, Carll's music is pure Texan — and in the best way possible. It swings and it swaggers, it rollicks and it bites. And, in live settings, his charms are only multiplied. He's a treasure.