Bumblefest, West Palm Beach’s buzziest indie music festival, returns for its annual gathering of cutting-edge national and local bands this weekend, and the 2019 lineup is bigger than ever.
For the first time, Bumblefest—produced by Steve Rullman, concert promoter and publisher of the venerable print ‘zine Pure Honey—will span two days instead of one, to accommodate an unprecedented number of national headliners. Beginning at 8 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday, a whopping 40 bands will perform on six stages on the 500 block of Clematis Street: at Kismet Vintage, Hullabaloo, Voltaire, Subculture Coffee, and at indoor and outdoor stages at Respectable Street.
You can check out the entire lineup at the festival’s website, but in the interest of space, we’re limiting our extended preview to the five biggest names on the docket. Read—and listen—on, as rich discoveries await.
The Blank Tapes
The Blank Tapes is the nom de plume of California multi-instrumentalist Matt Adams, whose affinity for obscure ‘60s psychedelia comes across in his every sun-splashed note. According to Adams’ bio, he has produced “dozens of albums of 1960s-inspired folk-rock-surf-psych-soul-pop,” and his own discography includes 22 digital releases, including 2019’s stellar Super BloomEP. Listening to the Blank Tapes sometimes feels like you’re playing their records on the wrong speed, which in this case is a compliment.
Favoring a sound the band members have described in interviews as “anxious,” Brooklyn quartet Big Bliss wears its Joy Division-to-Interpol influence on its sleeve. Though not quite as chilly as the former or as sleek as the latter, the group—founded by brothers Tim and Cory Race, on guitar and drums, respectively—will instantly appeal to post-punk fans of either band, with a sonic palette that is propulsive, jittery and easily danceable.
This blissed-out Los Angeles four-piece takes its name from founding singer-songwriter Samira Winter, but the seasonal implications of the name are ironic: With tunes like “Sunshine Devine” and a new EP titled Infinite Summer, this is clearly a band tailored for sunnier climes. Samira Winter grew up in Brazil absorbing her father’s punk records and her mother’s Brazilian pop discography before settling on the dreamy shoegaze influence that defines her current output, which sounds a bit like the love child of Waxahatchee and Gospel Gossip.
The spirit of Devo is strong in this deceptively hilarious duo, a postmodern and theatrical throwback to the time when punk and electronic music hooked up and conceived synthpop. Miranda Plastic performs on moog synth and theremin, Tyson Plastic plays the axe, and their gigs involve elaborate costumes and video projection. Lyrically, the Plastics take influence from dystopian science fiction, as evidenced on cuts like “We Are Obsolete” and “TV Head,” but their cheeky sense of humor pervades their videos. Their 8-bit cover of the Flaming Lips’ “She Don’t Use Jelly” is an instant classic.
This project from L.A.-based singer-songwriter Warner Hiatt is recommended—highly—if you dig Father John Misty and Kurt Vile. Hiatt grew up as an aspiring comedian, worshiping the oeuvres of Chris Farley and John Belushi, and a sense of sardonic humor permeates his slacker folk-psych ballads. So it’s all the more surprising to learn that this laid-back troubadour tends to end all of his set lists—at least, as of this past February—by smashing a glass beer bottle on his head, as if we a Stooges-era Iggy Pop. I guess music, like life, is full of contradictions.
Tickets to Bumblefest run just $15-$25, and can be purchased here.