But what about the small print?
Seven non-headliners to catch at LouFest
LouFest has, to be honest, fluctuated in quality quite a bit over the past few years, and although this LouFest may not have a lot of big names (other than the headliners of course), it does have a handful of my favorite artists and bands on the undercard. So if you think anything of my taste in music—and I don’t blame you if you don’t—here’s some recommendations for which non-headlining acts to check out at LouFest.
The experimental hip-hop duo Run The Jewels is my first LouFest recommendation due to their unique and intense sound, although they’re not as under the radar as some of my other picks. The duo, made of rapper Killer Mike and rapper/producer El-P, has made waves in the hip-hop community with their three albums: “Run The Jewels,” “Run The Jewels 2” and “Run The Jewels 3.” With “Run The Jewels 3,” the duo expanded into a more conscious stream of hip-hop. On each of their albums they consistently deliver hard-hitting, for lack of a better term, bangerz. Songs like “Legend Has It” and “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry” have strong, unique beats along with powerful rapping from Killer Mike and El-P. The two have great synergy and it is reflected in their music. Run The Jewels is a must see for any hip-hop fan and anyone that wants to go to an energetic and crazy show, and being in the crowd and chanting “RTJ” in response to El-P in “Legend Has It” is an experience like no other.
A group of a very different genre, but with music that is just as exciting, is Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. The Denver-based band produces a toe-tapping folk, Americana and rock sound. Their debut, self-titled album has high-energy tracks as well as softer cuts, but all of the songs on it are full of soul. With a solid sound built up, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats are bound to deliver an exciting show that will keep you bouncing along to the beat.
Another great folk and Americana act, but one with a very different sound, is Houndmouth. This Indiana-based group consistently delivers tracks that have a solid groove to them, but that are also chill and low-key. Houndmouth rides the line between folk and country, taking elements from both while maintaining a style that cannot be categorized specifically as either. Although I generally listen to very little country, their album “Little Neon Limelight” still made an impression on me. I’m sure that Houndmouth, although not the most high-energy group performing at LouFest, will deliver a fun set that you won’t be able to resist grooving along to.
The last folk group, I swear, on this list is Rainbow Kitten Surprise. Despite the name, Rainbow Kitten Surprise is one of my favorite indie folk acts making music today. Their first album, “Seven + Mary,” is full of moving guitar as well as passionate lyrics. The group’s sophomore album, “RKS,” while being much more rock influenced, still preserves the sound that they set in “Seven + Mary.” Rainbow Kitten Surprise has put out a consistent mix of solid music ranging all over the folk rock spectrum. From soft folky songs like “Devil Like Me” to tracks that would be at home in a straight rock album like “Run,” Rainbow Kitten Surprise demonstrates a solid range of high quality music that I can barely wait to see live.
Minneapolis rapper Lizzo is another act that you won’t want to miss at LouFest this year. Lizzo delivers a constant stream of high-energy music. Her beats are as catchy as her hooks in the best way possible. Lizzo implements elements of both pop and rhythm and blues into her music to create a unique sound that you can’t get out of your head after listening to one of her projects. Although earworms tend to be annoying, I don’t mind her tracks sticking in my mind.
If you want to hear some great hip-hop that isn’t as intense and in-your-face as Run The Jewels and Lizzo, you should check out Noname. Probably best known for her collaborations with Chance the Rapper, Noname released her first mixtape, “Telefone,” in 2016. “Telefone” is filled with Noname’s soft voice, which complements the almost lo-fi beats in her songs. Noname’s music is extremely chill, and at times seems to cross the line into poetry while also implementing elements of R&B music. Beyond her music just being beautiful, her mix of singing, rap and poetry keeps you engaged. If you’re looking for a softer and chiller act at LouFest, I can guarantee that you will like Noname.
Hippo Campus is my last recommendation for LouFest this year. This indie pop rock group recently released their first full-length album, titled “Landmark.” Hippo Campus’ music is quite chill and has a strong bass and guitar presence. The strings propel the group’s songs and are ever-present in them. Hippo Campus has a good pop rock sound that keeps them interesting even if a lot of their songs sound similar. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
While all three of the headliners are definitely worth seeing, keep in mind that the lesser-known acts are sometimes the best sets of the weekend. LouFest promises to be a good festival with a variety of talent, and there’s someone for every taste of music. This year, the festival is filled with solid artists, and I’m personally excited to see some of my favorite artists and bands perform next weekend.