Taylor's Turntable: Lineups, as told by the last band
Columnist Taylor Ysteboe: “The headliners always catch our eyes, but don’t be afraid to check out the last act.”
We all know the headliners. AC/DC, Jack White and Drake are slated for Coachella. The Foo Fighters and Sam Smith are ruling Hangout. Wilco and Chance the Rapper are taking over Pitchfork while The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar and Skrillex are at the top of Electric Forest.
But what about the artists further down the lineup? Like, really far down. Like, the very last artist. Sure, they may not be dominating the radio waves (yet), but they still have at least a dash of talent to be ranked with the bands in size-48 font.
Let’s start with Coachella. If you can handle the heat of the California desert in mid-April on Friday, then stick around for the bottomliners (I’m coining it) on Saturday and Sunday.
Until The Ribbon Breaks is a fresh British electronic-rock trio and will perform both Saturdays of the festival. Dabbling into otherworldly sounds while maintaining a keen eye for lyrics, this band experiments with a myriad of edgy arrangements in a bold attempt to produce honest records that they love. The trio released its debut album, “A Lesson Unlearnt,” this past January, a dark yet mesmerizing work. Until The Ribbon Breaks rightly ranks among the greats at this desert flower of a festival.
After you see Until The Ribbon Breaks, stay for Sunday to see The Night Terrors of 1927. Like their Saturday counterpart, the California duo released their debut album, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” in January. On a quest to craft dreamy synth pop, The Night Terrors of 1927 gives listeners a season of sound in each song.
Let’s cross to the other side of the country to Gulf Shores, Alabama, in May for Hangout. Americana quartet Elliot Root will make the seven-hour drive from Nashville to offer sundressed girls and jean-shorted dudes its truthful songwriting. Building from poignant lyrics, the eclectic outfit has incorporated a variety of instruments since 2011 to mold gorgeous and engaging soundscapes.
Next in this list of bottomliners is Yojimbo (Best Band Name Award goes to these guys), performing in Michigan’s Electric Forest Festival in late June. This trio from New Orleans contrasts punk undercurrents with glimmers of synesthesia-inducing pop. With a strong, whimsical female lead singer, Yojimbo gives us fanciful tracks to invade our dreams.
Bringing up the rear in July in the Pitchfork Music Festival is the oh-so-eccentric but oh-so-intriguing Jimmy Whispers. Clad in a now off-white t-shirt that reads “Summer in Pain” paired with a red Chicago Bulls jacket, this playful singer delves into somber themes but retains catchy melodies. Plus, though I have never seen Mr. Whispers before, a little bird told me that his live performances are nothing short of legendary. Undoubtedly, you should expect to dance the night away with Jimmy Whispers in Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival.
I’ll be honest. I had never heard of any of these artists before. But upon listening to EPs and LPs and by digging through Bandcamps and SoundClouds, I can tell you that all the artists that I just listed are definitely worth a listen. And, if you have a spare hundred bucks to throw around at a festival, then hit up these festivals to see not only the headliners but these cool acts, too. Give them a year, or maybe two or three, and you’ll be seeing these names and hearing their songs whenever you turn the corner.
Remember, it’s not about fame. It’s about talent. And who’s to say that these five artists have any less potential than the artists who are headlining when they were starting out? We’ve all gotta start somewhere, and for these guys, they’re starting at the bottom of a summer music festival playbill, but they’ll climb their way up. I know they will.