Bands To See At FEST 14

Posted: by Henderson

We are headed down to FEST to party it up, take a little vacation, and oh yeah see some awesome music. These are the bands we can’t wait to see. Check them out if you are going, and if you can’t listen to them online! It’s almost as good.


Pianos Become the Teeth (Lot #10  5:00 – 5:40 PM)

The band threw off a lot of fans with their change in direction, but last year’s “Keep You” is absolutely amazing. The album is filled with emotional intensity and spooky spaciousness. I’m not sure what the blend of old / new material will be, but I’m sure I’ll be pleased either way because I’ve heard nothing but good things about their live performances.

Listen To: “Repine” 

– Dylan

Pujol (The Atlantic10:30 – 11:00 pm)

Let’s just carry this Infinity Cat momentum right into Pujol.  Nashville’s Daniel Pujol is another musician rising within the city’s burgeoning rock and roll scene.  With an arsenal of authentic and socially aware lyrics, various combinations of harmonies and melodies, and consistently awesome releases, which includes 2014’s Kludge (Saddle Creek), this band likely isn’t slowing down anytime soon.  Musical influences are drawn from just about any subgenre of rock music that you could imagine.  If you want to catch a lo-fi, garage punk, surfy, bluesy, poppy, maybe metal, Southern Rock and Roll set on Fest’s opening night, I will see you at the Atlantic.

Listen to: “Mayday”

– Dan

Annabel (The Wooly 10:50 – 11:30 PM)

I missed the chance to see Annabel when they passed through Philly earlier this year and I’m seriously disappointed in myself for it. Having It All is easily in my top 5 records this year with super catchy melodies and guitar riffs throughout. I suspect that their live performance only enhances the poppy emo goodness and I cannot wait to find out.

Listen To: Their new album Having It All

– Dylan

Koji (Civic Media Center 11:30 PM – 12:00 AM)

I’ve been all about Koji for quite some time now and he never ceases to amaze me with his songwriting. He put out a new 7″, “Fury”, with No Sleep Records this year and it’s a huge step forward. The full-band vibe totally works and I can’t help but be reminded of Silversun Pickups in a very good way.

Listen To: “Peacemaker”

– Dylan

Back-to-Back – Direct Hit! + Such Gold (Boca Fiesta DH! 11:40 -12:10 + SG – 12:30 – 1 am)

I’m a jerk.  In my post last year, I specifically suggested seeing Direct Hit! with complete confidence that I would be attending their set.  HOWEVER, they fell casualty to a brutal schedule conflict with Paint it Black and PUP.  Since 1) I’m a huge homer when it comes to Philadelphia’s music scene, 2) Paint it Black’s Delaware show scheduled for a week after Fest fell through due to nonsense, and 3) I logistically could not find a way to attend the mischief night show in Philly and still catch my Fest flight, I decided to use Fest as an opportunity to see an elusive PIB set.

However, the point of including all of the background info is just to admit that I MADE A MISTAKE.  I maintain that 2013’s Brainless God (Red Scare) is one of the best punk albums in years, and for their Fest set last year, Direct Hit! reeled off as many tracks from the album as time allowed, while cracking jokes and telling everyone to shut up (part of their charm).  Red Scare just released a compilation of older DH! Songs that were re-recorded/remixed/re-mastered, and I believe that a new album with new material is hopefully on its way within the next year.  Whether it’s another Brainless God-centric set or a set spanning all of their releases, I refuse to miss them this time around.  They’re perfect for Fest and for Halloween weekend.

November 2014 saw Such Gold release The New Sidewalk (Razor & Tie), and step in a different direction for the band overall.  While Pedestals and Misadventures were heavier in-your-face (and excellent) releases, The New Sidewalk dials back the aggression slightly while putting more focus into the instrumentals, in a positively noticeable way.  I can’t say for sure how many lineup changes this Rochester, NY band has had over the years, but old or new, they find a way to replace talent with talent.  When you have Bill Stevenson, a musician and producer who has played some part in a slew of legendary punk bands, quoted as saying “These kids shred balls”, you should probably listen.   This will be my first time seeing Such Gold without Ben Kotin stomping around with the mic and instead, donning a guitar, but I don’t anticipate any drop in the quality. Go see them, shut up about Stand Tall, and let them rip.  Direct Hit! right into Such Goldlate into opening night will undoubtedly be a blast.

Listen to: Direct Hit! – “Buried Alive”
Listen to: Such Gold – “Faced”

– Dan



Prawn (Cowboys 3:40 – 4:20 PM)

I saw Prawn open for A Great Big Pile of Leaves over the summer and I was blown away by the energy in their music and their stage presence. Consequently, I picked up a copy of “Kingfisher” and have been spinning it ever since. Their b-side releases that came after are just as good, if not better, and I can’t get enough of their masterful blend of indie-emo and post-rock.

Listen To: “Why You Always Leave A Note”

– Dylan

Foxing (Cowboys Saturday 5:40 PM – 6:20 PM)

The first time I heard Foxing, I was stunned. Their debut album The Albatross (winner of our award for Best Debut Album in 2013), is a complex web of indie rock instrumentals, including piano, strings, brass and traditional guitars/drum, overlaid with heart wrenching vocals. My first two thoughts were, in order, #1 these guys must be established rock vets to write an album so tight and complex (they aren’t, they’re young super talented prodigies somehow), and #2 there is no way they can recreate this live (WRONG WRONG WRONG). What can I say, sometimes I’m just off. I caught them at a Brooklyn show recently and not only was the entire show an explosion of emotional energy that sounded perfect, but the set featured a trumpet get smashed into oblivion on stage. I have literally never seen that ever. It was AWESOME. Foxing have a new album called Dealer coming out soon and I am certain that it’ll be excellent even if it doesn’t live up to the lofty standards set by their debut. Go see Foxing. Do it. You’ll be left mouth agape looking like a moron but happy as can be.

Listen To: “Inuit”

– Hendo

Hodera (Market Street Pub Saturday 6:30 – 7 PM + Civic Media Sunday 12:20 – 12:50 PM)

Hodera recently released their debut LP, United By Birdcalls, on my label (All Sounds), so duh yeah I want you to go see them. They’re an emotional indie rock band at heart, influenced by The Front Bottoms and similar, and they write meaningful songs about depression and fighting through the tough parts of life. Plus, I wouldn’t have signed them if they didn’t absolutely kill it live. I’m biased sure, but I think you should go see them and you know what, I’m just stoked a band on my label is playing two sets at the coolest festival in the world. Fucking FEST baby. Dance dance dance.

Listen To: “Feel Better”

– Hendo

Drug Church (The Wooly – Saturday 7:10-7:40)

I first saw Drug Church in December of 2012 in a nearly empty bar.  Until then, I had only heard “Tomahawk” and knew nothing else about the band other than that Self Defense’s Patrick Kindlon was the vocalist.  As soon as they took the stage, it was obvious we were in for an interesting set.  The set itself ripped, but it was Kindlon’s musings and stage banter that stood out.  Whether it was his praise for how clean the floor of the stage was (“Top five cleanest,” allegedly), or lessons on why some other countries recommend that musicians don’t say “Mic check” (intolerance), it was difficult to tell what was tongue-in-cheek or what wasn’t.  The one thing that was for sure is that Kindlon made us want to listen.  Whether it is his musings in interviews or onstage or even on twitter**, or his introspective lyrics, he is a hell of a voice for a band.  Take the aforementioned qualities and a raspy voice, and combine them with heavy basslines, shredding guitars, and crashing drums that stay tight while perfectly interlacing around Kindlon’s unique shouting cadence, and you have an assault of a set ready for you.  So far in 2015, Drug Church have released a monster of an EP in Swell (No Sleep) that was a giant improved leap for the band with incredible instrumentalsand some of my personal favorite lyrics in recent memory.  October 30, the night before their Fest set, their new full length Hit Your Head (also on No Sleep) will drop, and I have no doubt that it will end up as one of my favorite 2015 releases.  If you need a heavy, thought-provoking set that you can shout along to, Drug Church’s set is the way to go.

*Note: One of the absolute best follows on Twitter – @selfdfens

Listen to: “Zero Zero”

– Dan

Left & Right (Palomino Saturday 9:00 – 9:30 PM)

I was playing pinball in a small barcade a few years ago when I first came across Left & Right.  For maybe three seconds, I thought I may have been hearing an Archer of Loaf cover, found out that was not the case, continued to watch their whole set and immediately posted about them on The Alternative’s Twitter.  This past year-plus has been a busy one for this Philly-by-way-of-Virginia band, as they had their solid Five Year Plan released by Infinity Cat, went on a long tour with Diarrhea Planet, and have recently just finished recording a new album.  These guys will relentlessly riff, you will all nod your heads, and everyone will be having a good time.  If you need any more incentive, ask yourself “How many bands does Infinity Cat have on their roster that don’t shred?”  Exactly.  None.

Listen to: “5 Year Plan”

– Dan

The Hotelier (Cowboys Saturday 10:40 – 11:20 PM)

With one of my favorite albums of 2014, The Hotelier easily made it to my my list of must-see bands. I caught one of their sets at The Fest last year and it was phenomenal, but now that they’re writing and recording a new album, it’s obligatory that I show up on time for them. They’ve spent a ton of time touring lately and seem to have mastered their performance and I’m hella stoked to see them again. See them at Cowboys on Saturday at 10:40 PM, right after Dikembe.

Listen To: “The Scope Of All Of This Rebuilding”

– Dylan

Meat Wave (Boca FiestaSaturday 10:50 – 11:20 pm)

I’ll admit that I just very recently got on board with Meat Wave.  I really don’t want to beat a dead horse here since I had to read similar statements from previous internet reviews, but like many other bands (i.e. Diarrhea Planet), I was scrolling through the internet, saw their band name, let out a “Heh,” and found a band that I refuse to stop playing.  Right off the bat I began to draw ridiculous comparisons, as there were very, very slight elements that reminded me of The White Stripes, Wavves, Cloud Nothings, and even an instance where the vocals brought me to At the Drive-In.  Upon realizing how absurd those may or may not have been, I found that it was best to stop thinking about it and take in the Chicago trio’s lo-fi, fast-paced, slightly distorted songs for what they were: a discography of aggressive tracks that sound like they were created in a basement or garage somewhere that will absolutely induce head nods or bangs and a rowdy Fest crowd.  Meat Wave have had a busy 2015, releasing their EP Brother (Brace Yourself Records) and recently catching on with SideOneDummy to put out the superb LP Delusion Moon.  If you’re in Gainesville on Halloween Night, make sure you ride the Meat Wave.  I am so sorry for writing that.

Listen to: “Cosmic Zoo”

– Dan

Rozwell Kid (Boca Fiesta Saturday 11:40 PM – 12:10 AM)

If I were to describe Rozwell Kid in 1 word it would be “fun”. If I was given 2 words it’d be “guitar fun”. If I had 3, they’d be “hummus shrimp bananas”. Rozwell Kid are one of the most exciting bands around. They write incredibly catchy and unpredictable guitar anthems (a la good Weezer), and they exude a wacko fun vibe. If you are afraid they sound like cheeseball crap, I understand, but they’re not. They nail it. We are talking Jim Carrey in his prime except a rock band. They released their last EP on Infinity Cat so you know their guitars are off the charts. Go see them and if they don’t absolutely shred while making you laugh, I’ll buy you a donut.

Listen To: “Sick Jackets”

– Hendo



Sundials (The Wooly – 2:20 – 3:00 PM)

Sundials are one of my favorite bands. Their songs just hit the spot for me, and every time I’ve seen them live it’s been an absolutely great show. They play a bunch of songs from their recent record Kick, which just happens to be my favorite. Go see them.

Listen To: “Stun A Spore”

Looming (Palomino 3:10 – 3:40 PM)

The best thing about FEST or any music festival really, is getting the chance to see bands for the first time. Looming is that band for me in 2015 (POPE is a close #2). Looming combine math rock and punk instrumentals and feature totally unique and versatile vocals (you NEED to hear these vocals). I wrote about Looming’s debut album, Nailbiter, extensively and honestly believe it is a major contender for AOTY. The lyrics are perfect, the rhythms are intriguing and the songwriting is complex and beautiful. This album is great, this band is great. God, I cannot wait to see it live. See you there!

Listen To: “Onward”

– Hendo

Oso Oso (High Dive – 4:30 – 5:00 PM)

Oso Oso write the perfect Long Island punk tracks for being sad in suburbia. I know this because I grew up a sad suburban dude. Their debut album came out this year, and I would put it head to head against any of Brand New or The Movielife’s records, and I am saying that as a huge fan of both of those bands. The lyrics, melodies and instrumentals all just hit the spot. The kind of music that instantly means something to you, and is relatable to your own experiences. I am so very excited to see them as a full band at FEST just to get a feel for this album live.

Listen To: “Another Night”

– Hendo

Runaway Brother (High Dive  5:20 – 5:50 PM)

Runaway Brother have been 1 of my favorite bands for a longgg time (by my standards). I remember when their first EP came out and I was like WHAT IS THIS, I LOVE THIS. They were actually the first band ever interviewed for The Alternative. Runaway Brother are cool because they take the emotional lyrics and melodies of “old school” emo bands like Say Anything and give them a fresh face and a modern tune up. Their new album Mother saw them surpass their influences and emerge as talented songwriters and lyricists that can rival any other band in the genre. I saw them live for the first time last FEST and it sounded perfecto. Go see them and get a taste of these infectiously melodic jams.

Listen To: “Catch”

– Hendo