All Shook Down: A cross-section of the festival schedule

There's the sarcastic rap of Rondo Brothers, the nearly timeless country-folk of Tiny Television, and a lot of other musical territory covered by the artists performing at the festival. These handy biographies — which cover many of the artists performing — should help you navigate the cross-section of Bay Area musical talent on hand.


The Park
If you thought a hardworking rhythm section alone couldn't make a name for itself, the Park has proven you very, very wrong. With hip-hop-savvy funk-jazz flair, the Park can back slam poets, jazz singers, soul legends, and straight-up MCs. Just don't be surprised if its talented musicians steal a bit of the spotlight for themselves.

Rondo Brothers
With shockingly on-the-beat delivery and a skittering army of hi-res synths to go above their beats, the Rondo Brothers' playful hip-hop is more clever and less obnoxious than that of 3OH!3. Their pranks are inspired: They remix "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" as breakcore, and cover the Zombies' "Time of the Season" from scratch, building it out of glitch noises and a vocoder. They hold Diplo and Bach in high esteem. Beck should be so open-minded.

Forrest Day

Afrolicious DJs
Afro/tropical/samba/funk beats


Joe Gagale
The kind of guy who unapologetically complains that Christina Aguilera made Rolling Stone's all-time greatest singers list and Erykah Badu didn't, Joe Bagale still believes in the ability to fashion new pop out of soul, jazz, and funk. Unlike computer-loving studio-progressive Jamie Lidell or the clumsier Mayer Hawthorne, Bagale likes to fall back and let the band groove when he isn't needed on songs like the disco-recalling "Mrs. Oh." Now working mostly as an R&B singer, Bagale studied bass under jazz great Ron Carter and won awards for his drumming at age 17 — so you know his credentials are legit.

Swoop Unit
Swoop Unit's wah-and-horn-knotted funk-jazz sessions are punchy, swathed with ham-and-cheese organ, stone-skipping guitar, and strutting sax solos. With no guest rappers or soul legends on hand to rearrange the pace, they'd better be catchy if they can't be well-connected. And they are — so much so that they make catchiness look easy in jazz. You can't go wrong with a subspecies of Kool and the Gang as summer fare.

Brass Mafia


Birds & Batteries
The name lists one organism and one manmade power source, so much of the press has taken the bait and dubbed Birds & Batteries "electro meets country." But the band's sound is too natural to boil down to crude genre splicing. It's not the "A meets B" that matters with this quartet, which doubles in size for tours and always includes a pedal steel player, but rather the cumulative effect of its intimate pop. Along with wrenching, dry-throated vocals, Birds & Batteries' signature sound comes via synthesizers, which bubble, blurt, and boil over its moaning tunes.

The Ferocious Few
Like the Greenhornes, Holly Golightly, and King Khan, this duo puts blues in a blender and pawns its record collection in the hopes of scoring a scene where Quentin Tarantino orders someone's extremities shot off. Drummer Daniel Aguilar lays down the beat with echoing percussion and cavernous rattling sounds, while singer-guitarist Francisco Fernandez loves to flaunt his retro authenticity like most blues-fed warriors. Frightening tempos and fearsome energy make the Few's live show like a ride down Highway 61 on speed.

A.B. and the Sea
The irresistible "sha-la-la"s powering the gorgeous "Yellow-Haired Girl" are the first hint that A.B. and the Sea is an excellent power-pop band. Recently relocated to San Francisco from Wisconsin, A.B. and the Sea is finding the West Coast extremely receptive to its '60s jangle and three-part harmonies. Turns opening for the Morning Benders and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros haven't hurt, either.

Grass Widow
Clean guitars rarely hit with as much force as this all-female San Francisco trio musters. And Grass Widow stands further apart from the girl-garage pack with its angular lines of attack, dry harmonies, and sober intent. Many garage groups sing about getting laid and getting drunk, but Grass Widow's songs are as serious as they are scathing. That doesn't mean they aren't fun, too.

Mister Loveless
Mister Loveless' "The Old Pain" has the most dour "doo-doo-doo"s to be heard since Primitive Love Gods' "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand." That takes some doing, even considering the song's title and band name. But think of Ian Curtis fronting a surf band — reverb to oblivion, tempos at a crawl — and you get some idea of Mister Loveless' sound. Just don't be surprised when it works up to some U2-sized choruses.


Sonny and the Sunsets
Doo-wop, country, vintage blues, and hard-worn rock are all present in the heartfelt songs of San Francisco's Sonny Smith, who recently signed to the highly regarded Fat Possum label. A visual artist and writer as well as a songwriter, his bursting creativity comes through in his songs' detailed narratives, evocative imagery, and classic American grooves.

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