Each year, music festival-goers from across the globe await the big poster reveal from their favorite fest. From the headliners (Radiohead! Beyonce! Daft Punk?) to buzz bands (Mitski, meet Sofi Tukker), each lineup is dissected line by line in the hunt for which lucky name gets added to your daily schedule.
Some small-print artists from years prior climb their way to the top, providing serious bragging rights to anyone who caught them at 1pm the year before, and crushing disappointment to anyone who missed out.
Here are 5 small(er) fest acts this year who might just be poised to make the jump in font size on next year’s already much-anticipated lineups.
With a career-making Kanye West feature already under his belt, the British crooner has set all wheels in motion for a steady ride into stardom. His debut album Process is set to drop in February, but for anyone thinking he’s just riding the coattails of a high-profile feature, think again; Sampha’s moody, electronic-tinged confessions bring his warming baritone center-stage, bouncing between quiet contemplation and big, enthralling hooks. If his stunning Fallon performance is any indication, he’ll be a much sought-after ticket this time next year.
These Portland, Oregon bred sisters have been slowly crawling into the festival-seeker’s view since last year, and on the heels of their first major-label release, 2016’s excellent I’m Alone, No You’re Not, the ATO signees are about to have their biggest year yet. They’re already set to play Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Hangout, and with their blend of lush, harmony-locked soundscapes and radio-ready anthems (you try getting “SOS” out of your head), they just might be the indie-to-everywhere story of 2017. Don’t let them out of your sight.
It can be difficult at times to place the sound of this 20-year old Atlantian; is it hip-hop? Is it folk? Do we care? No, we don’t, because it’s very good. Raury’s debut record All We Need came out in October 2015 and made it to #16 on Billboard’s US R&B chart, and with some high-profile 2016 gigs opening for everyone from Macklemore to Mumford & Sons, he’s had no problem getting his diverse sound in front of equally diverse crowds.
With Coachella as his only announced live date of 2017 so far, we can only hope there will be more to come, and hopefully some new music to pair. Or perhaps he’s holding off on the full festival circuit until next year, when chances are he’ll be securing a spot much higher the jumble.
Anyone who’s heard the 24-year old’s runaway hits “River” and “Wild Horses” can sense this prediction from a mile away; the songs are insanely catchy, the production is flawless, and they groove with a raw swagger that makes you feel cool as hell for just being involved. Part electro-pop powerhouse, part soul warrior, Briggs almost sounds like the Mr. Hyde foil of Florence Welsh: disruptive and a bit chaotic, with a big chip on her shoulder.
She’s already locked down appearances at Coachella, Shaky Knees, Hangout, and Panorama, and we’ve got our fingers crossed for more dates and a debut full-length (come on, that would be a wild summer album). By this time next year, she may in fact be too busy with her own arena-headlining tour to play our puny festivals.
This soul/pop experimenter burst onto the scene last year with his excellent Lamentations EP, followed by a high-profile tour opening for James Blake (and Vince Staples, on select dates). This makes perfect sense; Sumney’s soothing vocals and sparse, yet reactive production make him the perfect fit to lay the groundwork for a J. Blake show. Listening to him on record, though, you immediately notice that Moses Sumney is nobody’s opening act – his innovative take on R&B and clear love of the craft (seriously, he sounds like he is having SO much fun) is enough to warrant him his own headlining slots. He’ll fit quite nicely where the likes of Nicolas Jaar and Majid Jordan sit on this year’s lineups, if not higher.
Any of these acts could be the next Angel Olsen or Sturgill Simpson (both billed mighty low on the 2015 festival circuit), or even Anderson.Paak, a reoccurring early-day performer last summer and now a Grammy nominee for Best New Artist. Regardless of whether they climb the ladder in years to come or not, make sure to catch them wherever you can this summer, and if they do make the top line at Lollapalooza next year, be sure to really make your friends feel awful for missing out. You’ll be glad you did.