You knew which headliners you’d be see the moment the schedule was released, and you’ve already come to terms with the fact that you’re going to be missing the smallest bands early in the day due to hangover, traffic, dawdling friends, or any of the above. But how are you going to navigate when it comes to picking which mid-sized acts on the lineup you’ll see? We’re here to help. Below is a list of 10 up-and-coming acts on the 2016 festival circuit worth your attention. Catch them live, and they just might become your new favorite.
CAR SEAT HEADREST
See At: Made In America, Capitol Hill Block Party, Maha, Hopscotch
Car Seat Headrest’s new album is one of the best-reviewed of 2016, and for good reason. If you’re looking to jam out to some purist, guitar-driven indie rock like you might have seen at a festival in 1999, look no further.
THE CLAYPOOL LENNON DELIRIUM
See At: Outside Lands, Vertex, North Coast, Voodoo
Les Claypool of Primus fame and Sean Lennon of Lennon/Ono family fame started a band together, and embarked on a massive festival tour. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. If psychedelics (or just psychedelic rock) are your thing, this is the festival act for you.
See At: Hard Summer, Made In America, Breakaway Festival
He had THE biggest breakout hit of the year—how could you skip him?
See At: Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, Life Is Beautiful
Already gaining major attention in his native UK, Jack Garratt is about to blow up stateside. With an incredible vocal range and lyrics that get you right in the feels, this is a set you might want to bring your significant other to for a little bit of unabashed crowd PDA. (Hey, what happens at the fest stays at the fest.)
See At: FYF, Outside Lands, Austin City Limits, Hopscotch
Julien Baker’s debut album in late 2015 was an intimate work of devastating beauty. Expect the same from her minimal live set.
See At: FYF, Afropunk, Hopscotch
Can we all agree there’s not enough grime in the mainstream these days? Especially fronted by badass women? Kelela is trying to change all that. With 90’s pop vibes mixed with twisting club beats, you can’t go wrong letting Kelela transition you from festival day vibes to night.
Rhythm & Blues, Soul
See At: Pilgrimage, Newport Folk, Amourasaurus
He’s the son of a preacher with the voice of an angel. He produced an album for the legendary Mavis Staples, and we’re willing to bet she taught him a thing or two about showmanship.
Indie Rock, Funk
See At: Outside Lands, Lockn’, North Coast Music Festival
Remember that news story from a few years back about the band that put up an album—which was really just an hour of silence—on Spotify and urged their fans to put it on loop while they slept so they could collect the royalties? Yeah, that was these guys. Gimmicks aside, turns out that Vulfpeck are actually talented musicians who make tongue-in-cheek funk rock. You’re guaranteed to have a good time at their set.
Folk Rock, Indie Pop
See At: Newport Folk Festival, Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza
This band is one of the figureheads of the booming Austin music scene, and for good reason. Male-female vocal harmonies, whistling, and instruments ranging from trumpets to cellos all contribute to a high-energy live show that’s sure to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy.
See At: Lollaplooza, Bumbershoot, Life Is Beautiful
Ok ok, so Zhu is pretty established at this point (a Grammy nomination will do that). But he’s not technically headlining any festival, so we’re keeping him in. Plus, he’s incredible. If you’re looking to spend a full set dancing your heart out, Zhu is the act for you.