The insiders’ guide to the hottest festivals. Music stars reveal their must-see gigs of the summer.
13.07. Pitchfork, Chicago, USA
Iceland’s pop minx isn’t exaggerating. The Dirty Projectors’ music really is unbelievable – they can change style or tempo in a single second. Complex string arrangements, west African melodies, folk guitar, walls of sound and elaborate falsetto singing… Somehow Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors squeeze it all into a song without it then sounding too overdone or cerebral. They’re as elegant and experimental as was David Byrne in the early Talking Heads years. No surprise, then, that lead singer Dave Longstreth, 30, has broad musical tastes. He knows his classics, too – Stravinsky, for example, brutal yet absolutely modern. There are adjectives that might equally well apply to his own band. Hear it for yourself on Bitte Orca, voted second-best album of 2009 by TIME Magazine, or on the freshly released Swing Lo Magellan.
Headliners: Feist, Vampire Weekend, A$AP Rocky, Flying Lotus, Grimes
14.07. Melt!, Ferropolis, Germany
Aaron Pfenning and Caroline Polachek met at university in Colorado in 2005. They shared an interest in horror film soundtracks and both planned to make haunted house music. After university they moved to the musical community of Williamsburg in Brooklyn to perfect their retro guitar dream pop sound and create the Daylight Savings EP. Theirs is an enigmatic mix of dark ’80s jams that’s a cross between Joy Division and Berlin. International hit Bruises cemented them as the go-to guys for progressive indie-pop that’s perfect for the dancefloor and dinner party. But Chairlift’s music also contains a cool melancholy, as if the synthesisers themselves were lovesick. The duo are currently on a world tour promoting their latest album, Something, turning every stage into a romantic ghost train wherever they go.
Headliners: Gossip, Justice, Bloc Party, M83, Lana Del Rey, Richie Hawtin
05.08, ReggaeSunSka, Pauillac, France
There couldn’t be better omens for the start of a pop career. Her father is Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, her mother sang with Culture Club, and Boy George is her godfather. But rather than slip into her father’s battered old Doc Martens, singer Hollie Cook has forged her own path. Alongside fellow musician Prince Fatty, Cook, 25, creates reggae songs as easy-going as a walk along the beach in Montego Bay and as unpredictable as a summer in her London hometown. Tropical rhythms meet playful synth, heavy bass accompanies Cook’s tender voice. It’s an impressive, appealing mix. Reggae star Dennis Bovell worked on her eponymous debut album, and The Stone Roses’ frontman Ian Brown was so taken with Cook that he signed her up for much of the band’s sold-out reunion tour after one of her shows.
Headliners: Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, Jimmy Cliff, The Congos, Lee Scratch Perry
More Festivals in July's issue of The Red Bulletin.