Catch these under-the-radar festival acts now—they might just be next year’s headliners.
D.C. rockers Ex Hex (Photo by Kyle Gustafson for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Washington, D.C.’s Ex Hex features indie rock guitar deity (Helium, Wild Flag) Mary Timony in its power trio, but the band’s latest collection of songs, It’s Real, conjures more of a street smart Def Leppard amid its power-pop anthems, which is festival gold to these ears. Get those lighters ready. July 7, West Fest
Shake off your mojito hangover and get to Union Park early. Tunes by Welsh songstress Cate le Bon can beguile us at any time of day— at one moment gloriously lush, then starkly melancholy. Her latest album, Reward, is particularly intimate; she penned it while living alone in a remote cottage for a year, taking an intense furniture-making course in the north of England. July 20, Pitchfork Music Festival
Just as her star was rising on the indie scene, Sharon Van Etten took four years off from music to work on a degree, have a baby and guest star as a runaway choir singer with a dream on Netflix’s OA. Time away resulted in a new perspective for the Jersey native and an inspired, sophisticated record, Remind Me Tomorrow, which Van Etten infuses with dramatic new wave sonics. She puts the moody sounds to good use on songs like “Seventeen,” addressed to her younger, lonelier self. Aug. 4, Lollapalooza
For those fretting the EDM boom was largely an extended bro-tastic high-five, Anna Lunoe is a welcome addition to the North Coast Music Festival. The Aussie-via-L.A. DJ does a bit of everything, from production to lending her vocals to a string of big club singles to programming her Hyperhouse radio show on Beats 1 radio and Hyperhouse tours. Aug. 31, Huntington Bank Pavilion
Heard about the girl from Florida who rediscovered American jazz while living in France? Jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant grew up in Miami, but it wasn’t until she relocated to Aix-en-Provence that she found herself studying jazz seriously, emerging as her generation’s jazz vocal sensation. Steeped in tradition, the singer/ composer builds on legends Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter and Bessie Smith with a blend of charm and skill that earned her a Grammy for third album For One to Love. Aug. 31, Jazz Fest, Jay Pritzker Pavilion