On Nov. 10-12, Sound on Sound Fest is set to bring the ruckus to the Ren Fest for the second year in a row with a solid roster of seasoned indie faves, emo acts old and new, and rising stars from a variety of genres ready to hit the stage at Sherwood Forest Faire in McDade, roughly an hour outside of Austin. NYC dance punks the Yeah Yeah Yeahs lead a lineup that also includes the only Texas appearance from psych-folk outfit Grizzly Bear, a rare showing from alt-R&B innovator Blood Orange and punk lifer Iggy Pop.
The lineup also features a fine mix of hip-hop and R&B that includes new heat from the likes Vince Staples, Noname, Kehlani and Snow tha Product alongside old school artists like Digable Planets, Egyptian Lover and G.O.O.D. Music president Pusha T.
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The “120 Minutes” generation of indie music fans will be happy to see Dinosaur Jr. and Ministry in the mix while Taking Back Sunday will tug the heartstrings of music lovers who came of age in the aughts. British metal band Electric Wizard is flying in for a rare one-off performance and influential doom metal band Sleep will also play the fest.
“It’s such a good balance of young artists from all genres and older classic artists,” festival founder Graham Williams said on Monday afternoon. “Last year I thought the top part of the bill was a bit youth heavy, which isn’t a bad thing at all, especially for festivals. This year I think it’s just a bit more diverse.”
Williams noted the lineup includes “a lot of artists who have a new record and they’re just on fire right now,” rattling off Foxygen, Real Estate, Japandroids, Girlpool, Twin Peaks and Cherry Glazerr as examples.
He’s also thrilled to welcome back to the fest soul powerhouse Charles Bradley, whose 2016 appearance was sidelined by complications from a cancer diagnosis. “Last year everyone was like, ‘Is he going to make it?’ and now he’s back on stage and killing it again,” he said.
A solid supporting cast of local artists rounds out the bill, with performances from sudden electronic music stars Survive, recent Austin360 Artist of the Month Mélat,dance-funk champs Capyac, both of Sabrina Ellis and Andrew Cashen’s outstanding crews, Sweet Spirit and A Giant Dog, and excellent rappers Tank Washington and Kydd Jones.
The biggest criticism of last year’s fest was a bungled shuttle service that left many music fans stranded and waiting around for hours. Williams admits his company failed to deliver on that front and this year opted to “outsource (the shuttles) to people who do that for a living.” At a daily rate of $20 round trip from the Mohawk in Austin, the shuttles, operated by the national outfit Festdrive, will be significantly pricier than last year, but presumably more reliable. The company will also run shuttles to the fest from Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and College Station.
While last year, fest organizers embraced the location, on the Central Texas Renaissance Fest grounds, this year they plan to take it to the next level. They’ve added a “sort of crazy Renaissance Fair dance club” in the site’s Viking Mead Hall where Peanut Butter Wolf, Lindstrom and the Hot Chip crew will put in DJ sets. They’ve hired more actors and folks who run the site’s medieval games. They’ve also moved the main “dragon” stage from a parking lot outside the gates into the main festival grounds. Though his aim was to “treat the location as a headliner,” last year, Williams was bothered by the fact that many fans got waylaid at the big stage and lingered there for hours before wandering into the festival village.
This year his goal is to “make all the magic happen where it’s the most interesting and compelling. So when you walk in, you actually walk into the whole Renaissance Fair, through the wooden gates with log spikes and everything.”
Full 2017 Sound on Sound Fest lineup:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Grizzly Bear ~ Iggy Pop ~ The Shins
Blood Orange ~ Electric Wizard ~ Pusha T
Kehlani ~ Vince Staples ~ Sleep
Ministry ~ Washed Out
Dinosaur Jr. ~ Taking Back Sunday ~ Digable Planets
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires ~ Japandroids ~ Austra
Real Estate ~ Converge ~ Yelle
Ariel Pink ~ The Story So Far ~ NONAME
Foxygen ~ Cannibal Corpse ~ Hot Chip (DJ Set)
Cloud Nothings ~ Boris ~ Poolside
Twin Peaks ~ Citizen ~ Lindstrom
Cherry Glazerr ~ Turnstile ~ S U R V I V E
Girlpool ~ Power Trip ~ Snow Tha Product
Mild High Club ~ Wolves in the Throne Room ~ Blanck Mass
Hoops ~ The Menzingers ~ Egyptian Lover
Sweet Spirit ~ The Hotelier ~ Juan Maclean (DJ Set)
Capyac ~ Sorority Noise ~ Peanut Butter Wolf
Holy Wave ~ Mannequin Pussy ~ Tim Sweeney
The Frights ~ Helms Alee ~ Honey Sound System
A Giant Dog ~ USA/Mexico ~ Kamau
Alex Napping ~ Street Sects ~ Lovefingers
Midnight Stroll ~ Growl ~ Mélat ~ Sam Lao
DJ Sober ~ Flying Turns ~ Chulita Vinyl Club
All/Everything ~ Dayuta ~ Kydd Jones ~ Tank Washington