The 22nd Westword Music Showcase, taking place Saturday, June 25, 2016, is designed to feature more than one hundred fantastic and innovative Denver bands — but it also will also showcase some kick-ass national headliners. This year the festival will expand to include two main stages in addition to more than a dozen other venues in the Golden Triangle. Get yourself hyped with our rundown of this year's headliners. Presale begins Tuesday, February 23, at 10 a.m., and regular ticket sales begin Friday, February 26, at 10 a.m.
Dillon Francis has never met a dance floor he couldn't fill. Last year, he released a devastatingly accurately titled EP called This Mixtape Is Fire., which features collaborations from the likes of Kygo, Skrillex and Calvin Harris, among others. In addition to possessing a snide sense of humor and a hilarious Snapchat, Dillon has the ability to formulate compelling moombahcore, trap and electro-house tracks. Sure to be teeming with dramatic builds, exhilarating drops and speaker-shredding beats, his performance may well cause the deities of moombahton to rise through cracks in the floor and hit a dab (pick whichever meaning of "dab" you like best).
Matt and Kim
The duo of Matt Johnson (vocals/keyboard) and Kim Schifino (drums/vocals) has definitely been around the block a few times. With the release of their fifth album New Glow last April, Matt and Kim show no sign of slowing down on their quest for indie-pop perfection, blending infectious shout choruses with dance-heavy beats. Having garnered a devoted fan base as a result, Matt and Kim recently released a fan-aided video for their latest single "Can You Blame Me." With a brief European tour and multiple performances at this year's Coachella on the horizon, the pair is ready to leave you with dance-induced exhaustion and a lost voice at this year's Showcase.
Cold War Kids
This indie-rock band once hyped so vehemently by the blogosphere has transitioned since the mid-2000s into a purveyor of polished pop with an undercurrent of throaty blue-eyed soul. "Hang Me Out to Dry," from the band's celebrated debut, Robbers and Cowards, may still be the song that's most likely to drive the crowd wild, but chances are you know more of the Kids' soaring radio anthems, such as "Hospital Beds," "Audience," and the 2015 single "First," which went to number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.
Another duo set to take the stage this June is Brick + Mortar, which recently released its third EP, Dropped. New Jersey's Brandon Asraf (bass guitar, vocals) and John Tacon (drums, electronic samples, vocals) play a unique style of indie/alternative that has been fused with drum-and-bass grooves that add a dance-worthy flare. In addition to its set at the Showcase, Brick + Mortar will be touring with fellow Jerseyans the Front Bottoms this spring, with shows in Boulder and Colorado Springs. You can see the video for recent single "Locked in a Cage" here.
New Politics performing in Boston last November.
New Politics takes a sightly more aggressive approach to heart-on-one's-sleeve anthems. Singer David Boyd is unapologetically captivating as he belts out unforgettable choruses (see "Harlem," "Everywhere I Go"), while guitarist/keyboardist Søren Hansen and drummer Louis Vecchio hold down head-banging instrumentation (tracks like "Yeah Yeah Yeah" will have you jumping up and down so hard you'll think you've time-traveled into a Sum 41 music video). However, the Danish rockers retain palpable influences from indie pop and electronica, making their music extremely accessible to those who'd rather stand in the back and diligently bop their heads. With a killer third album behind them (2015's Vikings), the group is showing consistency and unrelenting commitment to its craft.
HEALTH is a noise band from Southern California, but that description doesn't quite do it justice. Writing about HEALTH in 2008, Tom Murphy said, "A thriving noise scene has emerged in direct aesthetic opposition to the tanned, fake pretty faces most often associated with the city of Los Angeles. HEALTH burst from that experimental-music maelstrom in 2005 with a vengeance." The band promises adrenaline-fueled rhythms and off-kilter sound collage — and surprise, as when HEALTH remixed chilly electro duo Purity Ring's "Begin Again."
Black Pistol Fire
How can just two dudes produce such a powerful sound? Black Pistol Fire, which splits its time between Toronto and Austin, draws from classic-rock influences to deliver a one-two knockout of dirty blues — and even a howling cover of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood."
Grizfolk performing live.
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A partnership formed in L.A. when Swedish producers Fredrik Eriksson and Sebastian Fritze met singer-songwriter Adam Roth, Grizfolk is a five-piece making today's brand of anthemic alternative rock, full of soaring harmonies and stomping feet.
The 2016 Westword Music Showcase returns to the Golden Triangle on Saturday, June 25, with Dillon Francis, Cold War Kids, Matt and Kim and more, as well as more than 100 Denver bands across a dozen stages. Get your tickets for the 2016 Westword Music Showcase here.