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One Thirty BPM Presents: The Fantasy Festival

By Andrew Bailey, Philip Cosores & Jared Silva; June 22, 2011 at 7:00 PM 

One Thirty BPM Presents: THE FANTASY FESTIVAL (#2)

As far as strategy goes, putting together my fantasy festival started off simply enough: pick the absolute best artists possible. The first five artists I snatched up – Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Neil Young, Jay-Z, and The Decemberists – required very little thought, really. These are all acts that have a wide range of appeal and deep catalogs to perform. But as the draft process wore on, strategy became more and more a factor. I wanted to compile a powerful line-up that offered not only terrific acts at the top of the bill, but balance and variety as well. Festivals are all about options and I kept that in the front of my mind. In some cases, that meant bypassing a band I might have had my sights on in favor of a representative from a different genre.


Billing Neil Young and The Decemberists as co-headliners on my festival’s first night felt like the best possible move. First of all, both acts share a similar style musically, meaning that fans could essentially park themselves at the main stage and enjoy two consecutive sets that vibe together. Putting, say, Jay-Z as the lead in to Neil Young wouldn’t have offered up the same flow. Further and most succinctly, both acts are huge. Young’s legend precedes itself, while The Decemberists are rapidly building their own staggering legacy.

Neil Young – “Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)”

If you peruse Friday’s bill, you’re likely to notice a lot of artists from the same wheelhouse as Young and The Decemberists: the emphatic blues rock of The Black Keys, the organic compositions of Bon Iver and Joanna Newsom, and the brilliant songwriting of Ray LaMontagne, The Tallest Man on Earth, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who would be slated to be my festival’s first act.

But there’s plenty of variety sprinkled in here too. Janelle Monáe’s music encapsulates several different genres, making her one of the more intriguing acts of the whole weekend. LCD Soundsystem, obviously, performs on the heels of their farewell show in New York – active within the last five years, landing James Murphy’s band was like having an extra wildcard to use – and offers ample eccentricity. Alongside the emotive, fractured dubstep of James Blake, I can’t imagine a stronger back-to-back late night pairing than these two (and yes, LCD and Blake would be performing after-hours sets). Phoenix and Mastodon, a big arena rock outfit and acclaimed metal group, add even more options as mid-afternoon acts. Plus, between Cults and Wye Oak, there’s the opportunity to see some of indie music’s future stars before they get too big.

LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”

The first day of my festival also offers some unique performances for hip-hop fans. Big K.R.I.T. was someone I badly wanted to land, as he’s already established himself as one of hip-hop’s next big stars. Sage Francis has a vast discography and a passionate, devoted fanbase that would make for a fantastic show. DMX, who I snatched up with my last pick, was probably my biggest risk for the entire festival. How would people interested in the rest of my line-up react to seeing his name on the bill? (And will he be free of incarceration and able to perform?) But I think seeing his raw energy under the broiling sun performing “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” and “Where My Dogs At?” is a pretty strong selling point, even if just for the nostalgia of it. Again, it comes back to variety (thus The Lonely Island).

Sage Francis – “Sea Lion”


Saturday’s line-up is exciting for a bunch of reasons, clearly starting and ending with the massive combination of Arcade Fire and my reunion pick, The Velvet Underground (minus Sterling Morris, for obvious reasons). Arcade Fire, thanks to the massive success of The Suburbs that shockingly garnered them a Grammy Award, is a band capable of performing a festival’s last act. But here, they get to play on the main stage on the second night, led in by Lou Reed’s infamous rock outfit. There might not be a better song performed at this entire dream festival than “Oh! Sweet Nuthin.”

Arcade Fire – “Wake Up”

This day’s bill is full of variety as well, with a second stage that would feature M.I.A. and the Beastie Boys, then culminate with Jay-Z. If Jay-Z’s previous festival performances are any indication, this is one that could end up the show-stealer – and on such a stacked line-up it isn’t even booked as a headline set. Also on Saturday, fans will have the opportunity to see big-name indie outfits Fleet Foxes, Death Cab for Cutie, and Iron & Wine, while much lauded acts like The Mountain Goats (who I felt was a coup in the 41st round of our draft), Local Natives, and the emerging YACHT complete the day.

Jay-Z – “Intro/Run This Town”

On Saturday, fans also get the festival’s best undercard of acts. The bill of Fang Island, Phantogram, Parts & Labor, the hugely under-appreciated Cloud Cult, Suckers, Nurses, and Secret Cities offers seven incredible acts to fill side stages and tents throughout the afternoon until the bigger-name acts come on and play out longer sets. Objectively speaking, there isn’t a whole ton of diversity in these acts – they all pretty much fall under the indie rock umbrella – but the balance here comes later in the day when those top tier hip-hop acts (and the electronic-heavy Caribou, too) perform.

Suckers – “It Gets Your Body Movin'”

One more key to this day that warrants mentioning: the addition of 85-year-old guitar legend B.B. King. Still touring to this day, King’s presence gives festival-goers the chance to see a living legend. His soulful, spirited brand of blues is also the perfect accompaniment to the grueling heat.


The top of Sunday’s line-up requires little explanation. In Radiohead, my first pick, I was thrilled to land the biggest band in the world with an extensive catalog of beloved, highly-influential music and plenty of festival experience to ensure that, yeah, these guys can carry an event. As the last performance of the event, Thom Yorke and company would be granted the longest time slot of any other band, meaning they could dig as deep as they wanted into their discography. The other big selling point on this day is Massive Attack performing Mezzanine, their greatest album. While a fair case could be made that Massive Attack is billed a bit too high – that’s an argument I could buy – I’d respond by suggesting there may be no better performance to take the stage prior to Radiohead. Simply put, seeing Mezzanine performed in its entirety as a segue into Radiohead is the best possible send-off scenario I can imagine.

Radiohead – “Planet Telex”

The rest of the day offers a hodgepodge of great acts geared towards the big finish. The Flaming Lips and Spiritualized, legends as they are, are especially exciting for me. But there’s something very unique – and maybe a little risky – about booking Crystal Castles and Cut Copy on this day. Typically, these are bands you’d see performing in a late night tent. But with LCD Soundsystem and James Blake occupying that role on Friday, and with Saturday’s set aside for YACHT and Caribou, there was an opportunity for Crystal Castles and Cut Copy, who would play back-to-back, to test their meddle during the day. Who said dance-heavy acts can’t get it done under the sunlight?

Cut Copy – “Lights and Music”

Other exciting acts on my festival’s final day include Wu-Tang, producer/DJ extraordinaire Flying Lotus, and critically acclaimed hip-hop tandem Madvillain. In this group, I think my festival offers the best of a sort of “alternative hip-hop,” a real divergence from the mainstream. Also on this day, fans get Yeasayer – who I’d be happy seeing as a sub-headliner at a festival, frankly – as well as The Antlers, Tame Impala, and Akron/Family. Again, there’s a lot here for indie fans to indulge in.

The undercard bill for Sunday’s festivities is an exciting selling point as well. Against Me! and Yelawolf jump out at me as two unique, varying offerings. But I’m really excited to have booked Warpaint, Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band, and tUnE-yArDs as a part of a music discovery initiative. These acts all have their own following, but really deserve to have their notoriety heightened. Xylos, probably the least-known band on the entire festival docket, kicks off the day.

Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band – “Lantern”

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