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The Band You Don't Know That You Need to See at Each of the Big Summer Festivals

Middle Kids
Maclay Heriot

Middle Kids

Middle Kids, Vita and the Woolf, and more acts you should familiar yourself with before this festival season.

So many stages, so little time.

Any seasoned summer festival-goer knows how to get the most out of your exorbitantly priced Coachella, Bonnaroo and Governor’s Ball weekend pass: You enter the festival grounds with a plan -- a schedule.

But regular attendees also know the smaller, afternoon stages can be a total crapshoot; you might bank on a dud while some group you’ve never heard before unleashes the performance of its life a few crowds down.

Let us serve as early-day planner this year: while you’re waiting to see Lorde, Chance the Rapper or the xx (all of whom seem to be playing every festival under the blistering sun this year) here is one killer band you can check out as part of the undercard for 10 of the largest festivals coming for spring and summer 2017.

The Interrupters

From: Los Angeles

Formed in: 2011

Signed to: Hellcat/Epitaph

Listen if you love: No Doubt, Goldfinger, Garbage

See them at: Coachella (April 14-23, Indio, Calif.)

Our No. 1 gripe with Coachella: the festival’s gross underrepresentation of ska punk! We kid, of course, but it’s true; you won’t find many horn-happy rollicking acts this year in Indio — unless you choose to skank it up with The Interrupters. The band has released two maddeningly catchy LPs in The Interrupters (2014) and Say It Out Loud (2016) and if the desert heat becomes too much, dynamo singer Aimee “Interrupter” Allen will cool you off with her gravelly chops and punky petulance.

Wilderado

From: Los Angeles

Formed in: 2016

Signed to: IAMSOUND (Los Angeles)

Listen if you love: The Lumineers, Dawes, The Head and the Heart

See them at: Bonnaroo (June 8-11, Manchester, Tenn.)

Wilderado just goes down easy. The new four-piece melds americana and alt-rock with explosive pop choruses and just enough twang, courtesy of the boys’ Texas and Oklahoma roots. This is road-tripping music: Once you catch the group’s hooks, and the great texture in singer Maxim Helmerich’s delivery, you’ll wish their debut EP Latigo were longer than just four tracks. But you’ll get plenty more than four tunes at Bonnaroo.

Middle Kids

From: Sydney, Australia

Formed in: 2016

Signed to: EMI/Domino

Listen if you love: Jenny Lewis, Tegan and Sara, Metric

See them at: Lollapalooza (Aug. 3-6, Grant Park, Chicago)

How does a band get this good, this quickly? The entrancing Aussie indie-rockers Middle Kids just released their debut single “Edge of Town” last May, a twirling tune shepherded by the chameleonic frontwoman Hannah Joy, and already, the band’s first, self-titled EP is something we can’t seem to shut off. Even Elton John (!!) said he was a fan. Is there anything left to argue?

Cherry Glazerr

From: Los Angeles

Formed in: 2013

Signed to: Secretly Canadian (Indiana)

For fans of: Girlpool, Mitski, Waxahatchee

See them at: Panorama (July 28-30, Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan, N.Y.)

While you’re standing around and waiting for Frank Ocean and Solange at Panorama in July, mosey over to Cherry Glazerr, the L.A. garage-pop band who was too good to stick to its tiny gigs. Founder/singer Clementine Creevy’s breathy, punk-girl swag is mesmerizing and January’s vibrant LP Apocalipstick is huge step up for the recently reassembled four-piece. You must try the slicing single “Told You I’d Be With The Guys.” 

Mondo Cozmo

From: Philadelphia

Formed in: 2015

Signed to: Republic

Listen if you love: Bob Dylan, Shakey Graves, Justin Townes Earle

See him at: Governor’s Ball (June 2-4, Randall’s Island Park, New York)

Mondo Cozmo may be new to the scene but Josh Ostrander, the man behind the funny name, is not. The Philly singer-songwriter has been penning terrific folk- and alt-rock jams for more than a decade, and now, with his stadium-ready single “Shine” in the holster, is prepared to re-introduce his style, which draws you in only to blow you away.

Too Close to Touch

From: Lexington, Kentucky

Formed in: 2013

Signed to: Epitaph

Listen if you love: Hands Like Houses, Emarosa, Pierce The Veil

See them at: Vans Warped Tour (June 16 - Aug. 6, 41 dates across U.S.)

Warped Tour isn’t exactly overflowing with must-see, brand name bands this summer. But that’s okay; there are dozens of lesser known groups to fill the midday void, and our pick is Too Close to Touch, an addicting five-piece from Kentucky whose 2016 LP Haven’t Been Myself blasts with punky power and just enough experimental pop to give vocalist Keaton Pierce and his soaring range a proper showcase.

Vita and the Woolf

From: Philadelphia

Formed in: 2012

Signed to: Unsigned

Listen if you love: Florence + The Machine, Alabama Shakes, St. Vincent

See them at: Firefly Music Festival (June 15-18, Dover, Del.)

If you can’t find Vita and the Woolf at Firefly, don’t worry — they’ll find you. Jen Pague, one-half of this alluring new Philly soul-pop duo, boasts a towering voice most commonly compared to Florence Welch. With that sort of unassailable talent (watch the accompanying video and see for yourself), it is a wonder how Pague, who plays keys, and drummer Adam Shumski are still bumming on couches for small tours and frequenting cramped clubs around their home city. Check. These. Two. Out.

Barns Courtney

From: Aylesbury, England

Formed in: 2015

Signed to: Capitol

Listen if you love: James Bay, The Black Keys, George Ezra

See him at: Hangout Music Festival (May 19-21, Gulf Shores, Ala.)

This is a make-or-break summer for soulful Brit Barns Courtney, who is not only playing Hangout but Governor’s Ball, Firefly and Lollapalooza, in between a full U.S. tour, on the strength of his debut EP The Dull Drums, released in February. His smoldering single “Fire” is a ready-to-roll anthem, with leaping vocals and a chugging folk-pop style not so far removed from Ed Sheeran’s songbook. Courtney may be the first act on this list to turn from a “never heard of” to an “of course I know who that is.” Hear him here first. 

Kyle Craft

From: Portland, Oregon

Formed in: 2016 (debut album)

Signed to: Sub Pop (Seattle)

Listen if you love: Father John Misty, MIKA, David Bowie

See him at: Sasquatch! Music Festival (May 26-28, The Gorge, George, Wash.)

Bold glam-rock choruses and a Dylan-esque cadence might suggest Kyle Craft was born a generation too late, but hey, we are overjoyed to have his talent right now. His piecing, powerful range cuts like an ax and his 2016 debut LP Dolls of Highland was met with a heap of critical acclaim. There’s definitely some Rolling Stones rattling in the back of Craft’s head, but he’s touting a solid pop foundation as well.

Alexandra Savior

From: Portland, Oregon

Formed in: 2013

Signed to: Columbia

Listen if you love: Lana Del Rey, Frankie Cosmos, Lorde

See her at: Boston Calling (May 26-28, Harvard Athletic Complex, Boston)

Who else can say they were discovered on YouTube by Courtney Love? At just 18, Savior was signed to Columbia Records in 2013, and now the ethereal pop songstress is ready to unveil all she’s been working on, a highly anticipated debut called Belladonna of Sadness, due out April 7. She described her vibe late last year to Gigwise as “feminist angst with a horror film feel,” but with the singles we’ve heard, we assure — she’s not too scary, give her a try.

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