For five years, the music festival has gifted nearly every ticket in the house to music fans, giving them a chance to flail wildly to Skrillex, bang their heads to the Black Keys and groove to Alabama Shakes.
On Saturday, about 50,000
music faithful will pour into Merriweather Post Pavilion for this year’s sold-out festival, featuring
20 acts, three stages and a ferris wheel. Sing along? How about trying to hit the high notes of summer earworm “Blurred Lines” with Robin Thicke himself?
This year’s bill, however, is packed with more up-and-comers and buzz bands than ever. You may know those sun-dappled fellows from Vampire Weekend, but how versed are you in the songs of neo-country crooners the Avett Brothers or funk-soul revivalist Black Joe Lewis?
Enter our FreeFest primer — everything you need to feel more in-the-know than a music blogger — including the songs to listen to tonight and sing along to tomorrow.
Black Joe Lewis
Listening to Black Joe Lewis can make you feel like you’ve ingested something illegal and joined the mud dancing at Woodstock. The Austin rocker and his band, the Honeybears, unabashedly channel such ’60s giants as Sly and the Family Stone and Jimi Hendrix.
The song to know:
“Skulldiggin.” Heads will be banging as soon as rhythmic keys usher in this wailing, three-minute rager off Lewis’s weeks-old album, “Electric Slave.”
Catch him if you’re a fan of: The Black Keys, White Stripes, James Brown
Set time: 3 to 4 p.m. (Pavilion Stage)
Scottish electro-poppers Chvrches (pronounce it “Churches”) are riding into Merriweather on a wave of buzz, having been anointed by no less than the BBC as one of a handful of bands forging the “Sound of 2013.” Lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s wisp of a voice cuts like glass through her bandmates’ hard-driving synthesizers, but the band is no slouch when it comes to lyricism either. Mayberry has a law degree and a master’s in journalism.
The song to know: Upbeat dance single “Recover” plays like three glorious minutes in a moon bounce. Expect the rest of the set to veer toward the lesser-known tracks off the trio’s first full-length album, “The Bones of What You Believe,” out next week.
Catch them if you’re a fan of: The Knife, the XX
Set time: 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. (West Stage)
The Avett Brothers
Like fellow modern-day jug bands Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers, these North Carolina Americana heroes — who have been playing together for more than a decade — have climbed the charts by shining the tarnish off country tropes till they feel new again. But the Avetts are more inclined toward plainspokenness and spare compositions than their suspender-wearing counterparts are.
The song to know: “Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in,” brothers Scott, right, and Seth plead memorably in “I and Love and You,” the band’s breakout hit. You’d never know it from a casual listen, but the Avetts regularly turn to mega-producer Rick Rubin, the mastermind behind Kanye West’s “Yeezus” and The Beastie Boys’ “Licensed to Ill,” to make magic of their sound.