For Weld‘s complete Secret Stages coverage, click here.
Buke and Gase (Hudson, N.Y.)
Friday, July 31 | Rogue Tavern | 11 p.m.
Try and pin down Buke and Gase’s music, and it wriggles out of grasp. It’s music that takes great efforts to evade predictability. Beats and melodies weave in and out of where you expect them to go, and the effect is destabilizing but magnetic. It’s tempting to attempt comparisons (for example, by saying that the band sounds like St. Vincent toying with Radiohead’s most progressive impulses) but that doesn’t really communicate the strange — and exciting — experience that is listening to the band for yourself.
Dead Balloons (Birmingham, Ala.)
Friday, July 31 | Rogue Tavern | 8 p.m.
Dead Balloons are yet another garage-punk band walking in the reggae-infused footsteps of predecessors like the Police and the Clash. What sets them apart, though, is their willingness to mutate their influences. Their self-titled EP, released last year, starts off with over two minutes of ambient electronica before the first guitar riff; other tracks feature woozy guitars gasping for breath in a lo-fi, shoegaze-filled haze.
Holly Waxwing (Birmingham, Ala.)
Saturday, Aug. 1 | Pale Eddie’s Pour House | 1:15 a.m.
We recently reviewed Holly Waxwing’s Peach Winks — and if you’ve heard that EP, you’ll know why it’s worth staying out into the wee hours of Saturday morning for the electronic musician’s set. Waxwing’s dreamy, glossy music conjures up a fully realized, shimmering atmosphere — and with the national attention that he’s receiving, if there’s any Secret Stages artist poised to make their big break in the next year, it’s Holly Waxwing.
Mega Ran (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Saturday, Aug. 1 | Matthew’s Bar and Grill | 10:25 p.m.
Phoenix rapper Mega Ran takes a lot of inspiration from video games. Many of his early beats were repurposed from 8-bit video game soundtracks; even his stage name is an overt homage to Capcom’s Mega Man series. That influence is still present on his upcoming album RNDM, though sly lead single “Your Favorite Song” seems to nod toward (or wink at, perhaps) more mainstream aspirations. In fact, whether he’s serious or not is a moot point — that song is catchy.
Muuy Biien (Athens, Ga.)
Saturday, Aug. 1 | Easy Street | 10 p.m.
Muuy Biien has been described as having “a heavy British post-punk sound crossed with the energy of older Sonic Youth,” and it’s hard to come up with a better description than that. If it’s melody you want, best look elsewhere — but the band’s crackling sound rarely dips in chaotic momentum. If you’re looking to start a mosh put at Secret Stages, Muuy Biien is your best bet.
Raindeer (Baltimore, Md.)
Saturday, Aug. 1 | Easy Street | 8 p.m.
Imagine the blissed-out singalong melodies of the Flaming Lips processed through the digital distortion of Animal Collective’s recent output, and you’re probably imagining something pretty close to Raindeer. Infused with just enough weirdness and unpredictable chord progressions to keep things interesting, the Baltimore band might serve as the perfect soundtrack to a rainy afternoon — or, you know, an evening in downtown Birmingham.
Small Reactions (Atlanta, Ga.)
Saturday, Aug. 1 | Das Haus | 12 a.m.
A last-minute addition to the festival, Small Reactions are what it would sound like if the Strokes had been pushed into a pool of heavy reverb at the beginning of their career. Their debut album, Similar Phantoms, doesn’t quite have the catchiness of that band’s early output — though songs like “Mt. Ogee” come close — but it has the same exciting sense of energy. The group’s bright, distinctive sound should make their late-night set during Secret Stages’ first night one to catch.