Lists

Top Picks for This Summer's Underground Music Showcase

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3. Thee Oh Sees
In the last handful of years, John Dwyer finally got his due as a gifted musician and frontman, with Thee Oh Sees becoming one of the most popular of psychedelic- and garage-rock acts in recent years. Although Thee Oh Sees have been a band for nineteen years, Dwyer has lost none of the impassioned verve with which he performs, and a seemingly endless stream of musical ideas keeps the band from retreading any uninspired territory.


2. Lee Fields & the Expressions
Elmer “Lee” Fields is a gifted soul singer and inarguably the elder musical statesman of the entire festival. The reason he and his band sound like they were plucked out of that rich milieu when Stax and Motown ruled the airwaves is because Fields is from that era: He's witnessed and even made that music himself. Now that soul is enjoying a resurgence among the younger crowd, Fields is one of the most solid booking choices of the headlining acts.


 1. Poliça
When the new synth-pop wave lost steam a few years ago, a handful of bands emerged and started making even more interesting work because they weren't trapped in a genre. Poliça, from Minneapolis, was already weirder than most of its peers, always exploring musical ideas. Its latest album, 2016's United Crushers, pushes Poliça far beyond what it already accomplished on its excellent 2013 album Shumalith. This band tops the list because of its forward thinking and its full, rich sound coupled with Channy Leaneagh's soulful, otherworldly vocals. It's the perfect soundtrack to a hot summer night at a music festival.
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.