As this year's festival lineups pour out and artists announce their spring and summer tour dates, brains and calendars are burdened with the struggle of planning ahead. With so many great bands to keep track of, you run the risk of missing many worthy concert experiences. To help ease the stress, we've compiled a group of 10 touring acts you won't want to miss in 2014.
Like many other angsty, young music fans, we have a bit of a hard-on for Mac DeMarco, but we promise you this guy knows how to put on a great rock show. If you like his recorded work, you'll definitely love his live show; his jangly guitar rock transfers seamlessly to the stage and you're also handed a heavy dose of DeMarco's eccentric sense of humor. Mac's unique personality shines on the stage, and his focal desire to have a good time is contagious. Also, his bass player. That dude is one goofy mess of a musician.
These Scottish prog-rockers are a group to look out for on this year's festival circuit. Perhaps one of the loudest bands playing today, Mogwai's performances pack an unforgettably epic punch with waves of pure energy transmitted to the audience from all directions. Their music is primarily instrumental, but it never gets dull due to their wide range of dynamics; one minute you'll be swaying to a soft melody and the next thing you know you're being hit with a brick wall of fiery distortion. We feel sorry for whoever will be playing at the opposing stage this summer when they devour Coachella.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Armed with confetti cannons and brilliantly colored stage theatrics, Detroit duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. will make you feel nostalgic for the childhood you never had (you didn't have confetti cannons, you didn't have a lighting grid) with their outlandish, live performances. The hooking harmonies of their high-spirited pop jams act as a perfect soundtrack to throw back memories of Pee-Wee's Playhouse or Ren and Stimpy...this is the stuff Dale Jr Jr bring to mind as they dash through songs from their second full-length album,The Speed of Things. Fun fact! The band's social media hints about ensuing new material, so we can only imagine how these stimulating sets will continue to flourish. Catch up with these guys when they tour the US in February and March.
Disclosure's excellent debut Settle hit stores last year, leaving us anxious to see what the electronic act's next moves might be. We seldom talk up an electronic artist's live set, but Disclosure doesn't rely on the typical light shows and visuals that common DJ's are accustomed to. Instead they mix on the fly and perform their music live, adding a genuine and organic feel to the set. Settle takes elements of RnB and electro-house and combines them seamlessly into a modern, danceable delicacy. After a year of touring for the album the young brotherly duo have surely fine-tuned their set and increased their confidence on the live stage. They've already been announced as a Coachella sub-headliner, and we expect their name to appear on many more festival lineups.
Cage the Elephant
Cage the Elephant killed it once again with their third full-length this past fall and yes, we are ready for more of Matthew Shultz's scratch-sassy vocals. They may have sprinkled a little bit of pop into their rock, but this only adds an additional quirk to their already dynamic performances. The group's spirit is palpable and it's one that will keep audiences wide-eyed long after the encore concludes. They have carved out a pretty solid place in the festival circuit this year, with spots on Coachella, Shaky Knees Festival, and Firefly already scheduled. Check out their insane-looking performance at Lolla from 2011.
For fans of Earl Sweatshirt, his new album, tour, and sinister video for "Hive" have marked a sweet return to form for Odd Future's other resident prankster. Fans at Governors Ball will have plenty to look forward to. (Hopefully) His live shows will be packed with other members of the Odd Future crew. If not just hearing songs from his excellent debut, Doris, live will be unforgettable. Don't forget that these shows tend to be more akin to hardcore punk shows than any traditional hip-hop set...expect plenty of mosh pits and potty-mouthed profanity to go around. Check out Earl's performance at Coachella last summer for a little preview:
Oneohtrix Point Never
If you are not familiar with Daniel Lopatin's project, Oneohtrix Point Never, you should get yourself acquainted. Lopatin laid the groundwork for digital sound art with his most recent albums, R Plus Seven and Replica. Intensely large and expansive in scope, the soundscapes Lopatin creates are accompanied by equally scaled visuals by video artist Nate Boyce. His sound has been described as toy-like or playful, and often is a combination of many different sonic elements that at first seem confusing but eventually come together in a cumulatively unique way. Watch Lopatin and Boyce perform at the MoMA in 2011:
Those who have experienced an Of Montreal performance will tell you that it's about as close as you can get to an acid trip without actually being dosed. Their sets include psychedelic costumes, makeup and choreography worthy of comparison to Bowie's Ziggy Stardust-era magnificence and garner Rock Horror worthy cult followings. Mixed with intricate, yet slightly off kilter vocal harmonies and bizarre song structures, Of Montreal's sets become a continuous and surreal act of theater.
Brooklyn-based Parquet Courts have gained an admirable reputation for emanating a classic, riot punk quality accompanied by never-faltering rhythms. Live, everything is played at amped-up tempos, and their sweat-inducing drive instantly consumes entire audiences. Check out their live performance at Pitchfork Music Festival last summer:
This UK mega-group produces hyped up drum and bass tunes with roots embedded in RnB and soul. Rudimental unleash a rabidly funky performance, full of experimentation in the art of making beats. Their hook-heavy music is contagiously catchy, and a perfect pulse for bustin' moves. With a female vocalist's combustible howl added to the mix, this group offers a unique sound that can tickle the most fickle of eardrums, and will surely do so this summer at Coachella.