Monterey’s First City Fest promises hidden gems alongside big-name headliners

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JULY 25, 2014

In the ‘60s, Monterey was home to a three-day music festival famous for one of Jimi Hendrix’s first appearances, as well as performances by The Who and Janis Joplin. This Woodstock-of-the-West experience continues today in the scenic coastal town with First City Festival, a two-day music festival boasting not only a well-curated lineup — headliners include Beck and The National — but also an old-school carnival, a swap meet and fresh ocean air. Check out which smaller-name musicians The Daily Californian is looking forward to seeing on August 23 and 24, and don’t forget to buy your wallet-friendly tickets here.


Connan Mockasin

New Zealand-based musician Connan Mockasin toured with Radiohead in 2012 and even worked alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg for a period, which is probably why it comes as no surprise that the kiwi-pop artist is beyond brilliant. His unadorned, psyche-bending tropes drift languidly, catching listeners off-guard. If his witty lyrics are any indication of his humor, this performance is sure to be a clever one.

For fans of:Nosaj Thing, Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx



“Simply stunning” is how KQED described San Francisco-based indie rock band Geographer when the radio station featured the trio on its website. Geographer continued to stun listeners when the film “New York, I Love You” and MTV’s “Awkward” featured them. Their free-floating lyrics and carefree dream-pop vibes are sure to perfectly complement Monterey’s laidback coastal atmosphere.

For fans of: Cults, Phantogram (both play First City Fest)


How to Dress Well

How to Dress Well (aka Tom Krell) released What Is This Heart? in June to critical acclaim: Pitchfork named the album “Best New Music” with an 8.8 rating — no easy feat. Krell blends ‘90s R&B with ambient pop, tastefully utilizing his velvety and vulnerable voice to deliver clearly and honestly.

For fans of: The Weeknd, Rhye  



Opera, pop and electronica run together fluidly in sister-sister act CocoRosie. Bianca and Sierra Casady use guitar, piano, harp and even children’s toys to create a completely original sound that has been described as “freak folk.” A few songs were highlighted in Prada’s spring 2006 fashion show, while “Werewolf” (off of 2007’s The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn) was oddly enough used extensively in a Swedish rendition of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” How could you not be intrigued?

For fans of:Múm, Fever Ray


Mr. Little Jeans

Don’t let the moniker fool you: this Mister is actually a Miss. Monika Birkenes, popularly known as Mr. Little Jeans (a nod to a minor character in Wes Anderson’s “Rushmore”), gained popularity on the Internet with her haunting cover of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs.” Since then she has released her debut album Pocketknife, which — with its synth-heavy density — can only be described as dance-y, moody and seductive. Here’s to hoping the bewitching Mr. Little Jeans will snag an appropriate twilight slot on First City’s schedule.

For fans of: Lykke Li, Wild Belle

First City Festival runs from August 23 to 24 in Monterey. Two-day passes or single-day tickets, ranging from $79.75-$159.50, can be purchased here.

Contact Addy Bhasin at 


JULY 25, 2014

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