Float Fest 2018 Preview
We’re only days away from one of the most talked-about Texas mid-tier music festivals of the summer, Float Fest. The fourth annual edition expands on the tradition of booking surprisingly good (given the size of the festival) and diverse national acts bolstered by top Texas acts. The festival sets itself apart by claiming it’s the only music festival that provides an authentic Texas experience in a float down the Comal River before being dropped at the festival gates to see amazing bands. The two-day event also set itself apart by being one of only three festivals to book Australian pop-psych wonderkids, Tame Impala.
There are plenty of other big-name acts on the bill, Snoop Dogg, Cold War Kids, Run the Jewels, Modest Mouse, this lineup is STACKED. But we’re actually here to talk about some of the gold present closer to the bottom of the bill. Texas acts, particularly Austin band are a subject close to our hearts. Seeing commercially successful artists is great, but music discovery is what sets the festival experience apart from other live music options for serious music fans. And let’s face it, if you’re not serious about the pursuit of quality music, you should probably just go ahead and move on to the next link.
Swells (aka The Wild Now)
Saturday, July 20 2p Sun Stage
Austin duo, Swells (formerly The Wild Now) comprised of singer Taylor Baker and guitarist Drew Walker have gotten a fair bit of notoriety as the pair shifted from a singer-songwriter genesis to an electro-pop act hence the name change. In between the group explored other genres finally settling on a sound influenced by acts like Phantogram, Sylvan Esso and coincidentally, Glass Animals. The latter was listed on the Float Fest bill until recently when the red-hot buzz act had to cancel due to a serious injury to their drummer who was hit by a car overseas while riding a bike. Swells got national attention a couple years ago when the talented act was a finalist in NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. According to the band, they’re working in studio with Austin-based producer Dwight Baker (The Wind & The Wave) and have a new record set to release later this year.
Saturday, July 20 5:15p Water Stage
Houston’s The Suffers are likely one of the best bands you never heard of. Except maybe you have. Perhaps you caught them on David Letterman? Or at that their latest stop in Austin at 3TEN at ACL Live. That show was a doozy. The main reason for that lasting impression is the group’s dynamic frontwoman, Kam Franklin is a bona fide star-in-waiting. It doesn’t hurt that the over-the-top vocalist has a fantastic band behind her lead by founder and bassist Adam Castaneda. The oversized collective reflects aspects of rock, soul, funk, R&B and even a bit of reggae and Latin music. The myriad of styles that appear in The Suffers music only serves to highlight the talents of the band and mirror the diverse, Houston culture of their hometown. The self-described “gulf coast soul band” is set to tour in support of their latest effort, Everything Here which drops Friday.
A Giant Dog
Sunday, July 21 3p Sun Stage
If you’re not already acquainted with Austin garage-rock powerhouse A Giant Dog then Float Fest is a great place to get to know the Central Texas act that signed to national indie label, Merge Records in 2016. Recently the band helmed by lead vocalist Sabrina Ellis and guitarist and vocalist, Andrew Cashen opened for legendary emo-punk act Jawbreaker who performed in Austin last week. Ellis and Cashen make a formidable songwriting duo with the latter making riffs that match the phrasing Ellis writes. They’re endlessly fun to watch perform. Get a taste by viewing this clip from AGD’s official video for track, “Sex and Drugs.” We promise you’ll be marking your schedule on Sunday to arrive early enough to catch this soon-to-be a household name group. We’re not the only ones who believe that. None other than Spoon front man Brit Daniel is a fan of the group.
Sunday July 21 5:15p Water Stage
Who likes it weird? We mean really weird. Think Frank Zappa meets Trey Anastacio meets Jack White and you sort of get an idea what White Denim is like. The prog-rock act with a baseline blues undercurrent is one of our favorite Austin acts. Lead guitarist and vocalist, James Petralli has been around the Live Music Capitol for years first wowing us at the venerable old Emo’s on Sixth Street during the venue’s Free Week promotion. We were instantly hooked on the bluesy riffs combined with an eye-popping penchant for full-blown jams. That’s right, we said jams and it’s cool. Trust us. You’ll like it. Just like Mikey in the old Life cereal commercials. The group has a self-produced new record dropping next month entitled Performance. If that means this new record is going to sound more like the band’s live shows, we’re all about it.
Sunday, July 21 9:30p Water Stage
Tame Impala is the clear booking win for Float Fest as the Australian pop-psych act will only appear at three North American dates all summer (all festival appearances). Band leader, Kevin Parker is often cited as a musical genius. While we’re not sure about that, the singer and guitarist is certainly precocious, producing a hit single, “Elephant” with his sophomore effort, Lonerism. We first caught the Perth-based group at Austin City Limits Festival that same year (2012) and half-expected the upstarts to be one-hit wonders. That was definitely not the case and we walked away huge fans of the band, perhaps a bit surprised at how easily Parker won us over.