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Now in its sixth year, the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival is once again about to take over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Much like you don’t need to be reminded about the fog that will roll in around late afternoon, you don’t need a preview guide telling you about how rad Vampire Weekend is or how amazing it is that you have the chance to see Paul McCartney. Rather, this brief preview is meant to bring some smaller bands to your attention, three of which hail from the Bay Area. Try to catch these bands in between chowing down on pastrami cheese fries and dancing to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The Soft White Sixties
When you hear the term “Working Class Soul,” what do you think of? Perhaps the funk and jive of soul mixed in with some old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll? This combination in conjunction with a dose of pop sensibility gives an idea of what The Soft White Sixties bring to the table. The San Francisco five-piece have been playing numerous stints, including this year’s SXSW festival, where they’ve been performing tracks from Get Right., their upcoming LP. Album opener “City Lights” melds fuzzy keyboard riffs and guitar licks reminiscent of the Black Keys as vocalist Octavio Genera melts through the wall of sound. If the keys and six-strings make up the wall, though, then Ryan Noble’s bodacious bass is the foundation, fortified by the catchy drum beats from Joey Bustos. Those in need of some gritty pop tunes can catch The Soft White Sixties opening up the Lands End stage on Saturday.
If anyone has told you the spirit of the ’80s is dead, tell him or her to listen to the dance-inducing rhythms of Midi Matilda. With a nostalgic flair and silky, smooth beats, the duo of Skyler Kilborn and Logan Grime have formed a partnership made in electro-pop heaven. After they both graduated from Ex’pression College for Digital Arts in Emeryville, Kilborn and Grime released their EP, The Red Light District, and are planning on releasing a debut album in the near future. Tracks like “Ottawa” combine melodious synth riffs with harmonious “ooohs” as Kilborn’s vocals swim gracefully alongside them. Others consist of falsetto swoons and blaring horns mixed with soothing keyboard swells, such as on “Day Dreams.” If you’re an early riser and manage to get to the festival when it begins, the groovy duo will be opening up the Twin Peaks stage this Friday.
The Mother Hips
It is truly a rarity for a band to say they’ve been around for 10 years. It’s even more surprising to hear a band has stayed together for more than 20, such a statement that Bay Area folk-rock band The Mother Hips can confirm with pride. The band released their eighth record, Behind Beyond, this year, continuing their venture through the dusty trails of bluesy California twang. Not all tracks shine bright through the Bay fog, though. “Song For JB” serves as a memorial to friends of the band who have passed away in recent years, including Wilco member Jay Bennett, whom the song is named after. Other tracks have a much lighter tone, such as the hip-swaying narration of “Toughie.” Fans old and new of these veterans of rock can watch them take over the Panhandle stage at 6:05 p.m. this Saturday.
Other than porting over the delectable chocolate Tim Tam cookies to the United States. via Pepperidge Farm, Australia has also been successful in popularizing its rock bands in the States. Almost everyone has heard of Jet — you know you remember “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” — and Powderfinger had their time here as well. However, the latest band to make it from down under are the brothers Keith and Michael Jeffery, better known as Atlas Genius. The duo first hit it big in this hemisphere with the swirling string plucks of “Trojans” but have become increasingly popular this year with their debut album, When It Was Now. Other tracks to watch out for this weekend include the lofty guitar strums and bass-toned synth of “Symptoms” and the blaring high-energy velocity of “Electric.” Sway away with the Aussie duo and their tourmates at the Twin Peaks stage at 2:10 p.m. this Saturday.
Ian Birnam covers music. Contact him at [email protected].