You’re here for who? A look at lesser knowns at fests this year

Mumford and Sons, MIA, Vampire Weekend, R. Kelly, sure they might be the reason you lay down the big bucks for a festival ticket, but they’re only a small part of the day. What goes on at 11 a.m. when the gates open and no one’s drunk yet? The lesser-known bands at the bottom of lineup lists kick off the day. Oftentimes these acts are just on the verge of success, so up your indie cred and pretend like you’ve been listening to them for months. This week, The DePaulia kicks off a series of features on some of the bottom-of-the-list bands for you to get to know now.

 

TNGHT: A DJ duo comprised of Scottish producer Hudson Mohawke and Canadian producer Lunice. The pair have been turning heads for the past year with their unique brand of instrumen­tal trap music, an offshoot of hip-hop pioneered by Three Six Mafia and more recently made famous by producers like Lex Luger. As if it wasn’t obvious enough that these guys love trap, they’ve even been heard on BBC radio remixing Chicago talents Chief Keef and Sasha Go Hard, probably the first time Brits heard of either artist (and probably the last they ever wanted to hear).

At SXSW 2012, effectively their world debut, they wowed the crowd with what one blogger described as a “jackhammer” of bass and generally a fun, danceable sound. Their low-end-centric tunes are a more excit­able counterpoint to dubstep’s drowsy wobble, and better suited to dancefloors, making TNGHT a hit in British clubs for the last year.

They’ve even drawn the attention of the demigod Kanye West, who made an appearance at their show in Brooklyn and has signed Mohawke to his label G.O.O.D. Music. You can hear some of his productions on West’s latest release, “Cruel Summer,” along with the rest of the G.O.O.D. Music gang. Tracks like “Mercy” and “To the World” list him as a producer and writer, although his style and influence on West are apparent throughout the album and on many other recent Kanye releases. Expect a set full of gratuitous bass drops and plenty of “cooking” a la Lil B – although serious cookers should probably hold off until the Based God himself takes the stage.

 

 

El-P: Hailing from Brooklyn, El-P was part of the surge of independent hip-hop acts in the early 2000’s that made waves in the rap world. His name is shorthand for El-Producto, a reference to his status as a genius producer as well as a phe­nomenal rapper, a rare combination in the hip-hop industry. El-P’s beats are characterized by a generally lo-fi aes­thetic, implementing synthesizers and sporadic vocal samples to create a disori­enting yet aggressive sound. His rapping is equally abrasive, and he is known for complex rhyme patterns and use of off-beat syncopation, giving him a unique and distinctive voice. Common themes in his lyrics are science fiction and dysto­pian futurism, something you don’t hear much of from the Gucci Manes and

Waka Flockas of today’s modern rap scene. El-P has produced for other un­derground and independent rap acts like Aesop Rock, Del tha Funkee Homosa­pien, Jedi Mind Tricks, Das Racist, and most recently Killer Mike on his latest album “R.A.P. Music.” Killer Mike will also be in attendance at Pitchfork, and it would be no huge surprise to see him ap­pear during El-P’s set to deliver his char­acteristic speedy southern flow, as well as his friendly on-stage demeanor. Look for a lot more El-P in the coming years as he slowly but surely climbs his way out of obscurity and into the mainstream.

 

 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Seemingly seizing on the music scene’s current fascination with psychedelic pop (see Tame Impala), UMO approach the trend from a decidedly lo-fi angle. Their first release “Ffunny Ffrends” began mak­ing the blogosphere rounds way back in 2010, and it remains their strongest and most popular song. A full-length, self-titled debut followed, garnering praise from critics and disaffected youth alike. The band has branched out into new-ish territory on their latest release, “II”.

Their combination of jangly guitar melodies, fuzz-worn vocals and hard-hitting break­beats is some of the best the indie rock world has to offer at the moment. Their live shows don’t quite capture the same acid-washed essence that comes across on the album, but they are still worth seeing based on their sheer importance within the scene today.

This is a band, as their name suggests, that began and is still trying to remain very “unknown” despite the encroachment of the tastemaker me­dia and the power of the Internet. Their sound is also something of a zeitgeist for rock music today, even though it’s a sound that was newer in 1973.