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TBD Festival: Under the Radar

By: DJames

TBD Fest has just wrapped up this past weekend and I for one had a lovely and rip roaring good time listening to music, hanging out with friends and supporting local businesses and culture. For me the draw of any good music festival is two fold. One being the promise of seeing some of your favorite and typically well established head liner. Personally, this year's festival's most enticing lineup eye candy were MSMR, Danny Brown, and The Drums. All of whom delivered on their unspoken promise of fulfilling my desire see them perform live and perform well.

However, this blog is not about them. It is instead abut the second fold I mentioned earlier. An aspect that is equally vital, if not the direct line to the heart of any successful music festival. I speak of course, of the bands you didn't know you wanted to see; but now that you have, you could not imagine having gone to this festival and not have their set be apart of your experience. This blog is about those bands who make festivals more than just an extra expensive way to see your favorite bands and turn it into a Pandora's box of musical discovery.

The first such band I would like to highlight is Male Gaze. This band had my attention as soon as they announced their name, as I presume it is a reference to film theorist Laura Mulvey's idea of "the male gaze" in cinema. Which, as a film student and theorist nerd, I appreciate immensely. But name aside, Male Gaze was killer. At first listen they appeared to be a n extremely tight and fuzzy lo-fi punk band. But as their set goes on and you begin to listen to their songs more in depth, they are revealed to be an extremely tight and fuzzy lo-fi punk band, with an ear for pop. Beneath the layers of pristine fuzz and feedback laced punk angst are some well crafted layers of surf pop and 80s Bowie infused pop hooks.

The second band I feel deserves some praise and greater recognition is quirky electro synth funk group French Horn Rebellion. Now, this band was recommended to me by my friends and colleagues here at the station, so I was expecting and hoping for a quality performance. But what I was not expecting was the explosion of frantic awesomeness that was French Horn Rebellion's dance inducing, charisma infused set. As the name suggests front man Robert Perlick-Molinari lays down funky melodies on his French horn, as well as, taking up most of the singing, sequencing, and synth playing duties. The highlight of the set came when Perlick-Molinari burst off the stage and into the crowd to serenade a lucky female audience member with a sexy horn solo. For those of you who happened to miss the epicness that was this performance, fret not, for French Horn Rebellion will be back in Sacramento playing at LowBrau restaurant on Sunday November 2nd.

Last but not least is Small Pools, a band that  is on the up and up in the pop scene, getting a nice bit of radio play and love for their recently released self titled EP. Small Pools is probably the most well known group out of this bunch, but one that I had not heard of prior to stumbling upon their set, in the hopes they could provide some entertainment while we waited for MSMR. However, after their set was over, I came away more than pleasantly surprised at Small Pools paradoxical mix of crisp musical polish and charmingly awkward in between song banter. For me, their music bridges a sonic gap between fun, and Two Door Cinema Club. Blending shiny guitar lines with sparkling synths, party pop hooks and a subtle nostalgia for pop punk, Small Pools are able to capture the raw energy of a late night house party. It seemed that with each song their set just kept getting better and by the end, both me and my friend, were happy residents of the Small Pools fan base. Be on the look out for the drop of their LP, which is rumored to be coming out some time soon.

So if the festival scene has never seemed like your kind of thing, I hope this blog has shown you that the music festival has much more to offer than the glimmering appeal of big time headliners. That they offer a chance to poke around and explore the world of the bottom half of the lineup and maybe, just maybe you'll find your new favorite band.

This blog has been brought to you by DJames, be sure to listen in to my shows each week from 3-4pm and 6-7pm, only on KSSU