The music fan with a keen eye for new music will love the fresh, underground artists that are a part of these music festivals.
Most times, music festivals in a year often boast of similar looking lineups. Look at 2016 – LCD Soundsystem is performing at four festivals at least, and last we counted Radiohead at three. But some of these music festivals make a genuine effort to include underground, independent acts alongside the giant headliners. And for a fan curious about a genre hitherto unheard of, or keen to discover new artists worth adding to their playlist, these music festival offer a much needed respite.
Here’s The Sherp’s list of 8 music festivals satisfying independent representation with gusto.
Coachella can be quite the paradox. Sporting celebrity attendance from the most mainstream faces in the industry, to being an expensively niche affair in California Indio region to sporting high-value names such as Guns N’ Roses and Drake as part of headliners, one can give Coachella a pass for its rather visibly commercial status. But the festival retains its indie vibe year after year by including some of the choicest names commanding attention in independent music. From more predictable inclusions such as FKA Twigs, Belle & Sebastian and Milky Chance, the festival has also included underground heroes such as Mr. Twin Sister, Jagwar Ma and Temples. This year’s lineup features names such as George Fitzgerald, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Strangers You Know and Amine Edge worth checking out.
Barcelona’s Sónar Music Festival is a pioneer when it comes to its electronic acts, having featured absolute legends and game-changers in the as such as Duran Duran and Flying Lotus to the most innovative sound-makers in the game. Exploring the many sub-genres that thrive within the spectrum of electronic music, the festival features a bevy of collectives and projects that are as inventive as they are interesting. Look out for 2016 where the festival features young, talented producers such as Yung Lean, Dawn of Midi, BadBadNotGood and Gazelle Twin among several others.
3. Pitchfork Music Festival
When attending a music festival, you might want to trust the choice of the web publication responsible for dishing out gyaan on the latest music hitting the marquee. That Pitchfork is a legitimate space to know-it-all about independent music is certain. What also is certain enough is that the Pitchfork Music Festival does turn up with impressively stocked lineups, featuring acts you may not have heard yet, but will definitely appreciate. From established acts such as Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper and Run the Jewels to more obscure geniuses such as Mr. Twin Sister, Iceage and Panda Bear, you can be sure to catch the very best of the year.
4. Bacardi NH7 Weekender
India’s self-proclaimed ‘happiest’ music festival brings together the very best talent of the independent scene from India and around. The festival that has featured giants such as The Vaccines, Flying Lotus, A R Rahman, Mogwai and SBTRKT, is most memorable for the brilliance it unearths from the threshold of quality. It is the festival that has exposed Indian audience to gems such as Erotic Market, Hidden Orchestra, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Imogen Heap among several others and can be credited with vitalising the country’s indie scene.
5. All Tomorrow’s Parties
All Tomorrow’s Parties describes itself as ‘the ultimate mix tape’. And true to its nature, its artist selection has much to do with a credible song quality accompanying it. The names that dominate the festival are all figures of the alternative music movement. Having hosted headliners such as Iggy Pop, Swans, Belle & Sebastian, the festival also features some ‘under the radar’ musicians such as Grimm Grimm, Pink Street Boys. This year, the festival features acts such as Thee Oh Sees, John Carpenter, Sleep and Tortoise.
6. Magnetic Fields Festival
Magnetic Fields Festival has all the makings of a decadent boutique affair. Apart from the fact that it is held in Rajasthan’s rather royal Alsisar Mahal and witnesses attendance from selected fans, the festival also brings out a lineup that is rooted in music’s underground scene. Having scored a collaboration with the musically entrenched Red Bull Music Academy, its 2015 lineup was testament to its rather indie roots, where it included acts such as American electronica duo Ratatat, nu funk duo Soul Clap, jazztronic artist Shigeto and indietronic trio Garden City Movement, to homegrown acts such as Blot, Peter Cat Recording Co., MMat and Nicholson.
7. Underground Music Showcase
Literally titled Underground Music Showcase, there is no denying that ’tis the festival to be at for some independent representation. The festival has been at the very forefront of Colorado’s burgeoning music scene, by bringing together local acts and international indie stalwarts for a heady mix of qualitative music. It is the perfect space to discover unabridged music for a quaint music fan.
8. Iceland Airwaves
You needn’t ever bother with learning the annual lineup to Iceland Airwaves for you can be assured that every year, as the festival churns out the greatest mix of international and national acts. The festival, originally organised on an airplane hangar by Icelandair is today one of the most coveted music festivals in the country, as it is organised on a city-wide scale attracting not just local music enthusiasts but also music lovers from around the world. The festivals lineup is an absolute delight, featuring the very best of Iceland’s rather underground music scene, and is worth a go for its rich local inclusion.