The Tower Bridge District, near the banks of the Sacramento River, will be bumping all weekend with a collection of cutting-edge sounds.
TBD Fest returns to West Sacramento with its sophomore installment, offering an eclectic lineup of music, food, fashion and art. Looking to appeal to progressive musical tastes, the festival has assembled acts that are mostly M.I.A. from mainstream radio. Some headliners, such as Pretty Lights and Chromeo, likely are familiar to electronic music fans, but many of the other 80-plus bands on the bill probably won’t inspire instant recognition.
“We actually like it when people say, ‘I only know two people on the lineup,’ ” said Clay Nutting, a co-founder of TBD Fest. “What we’re trying to do is create this festival that’s about discovery. (Some artists) might not hit the radar of everyone in Sacramento, but that’s kind of the point.”
TBD Fest’s musical menu is a mélange of electronic, indie rock, hip-hop and more. So where to start? Here’s a list of can’t-miss acts:
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Death Grips (8:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18): This started-in-Sacramento group earned “artist of the year” recognition from Spin magazine, and has been behind some of the most intense and creative sounds ever to emerge from this city. However, locals were bummed when they bailed on a scheduled performance at the Sacramento Electronic Music Festival in 2012. The avant-garde hip-hop band since has been a no-show at other outings – they even announced a breakup in 2014 – but that just builds even more anticipation for their co-headlining slot.
Glitch Mob (10:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18): Opening night of TBD Fest will go out with an electronic-dance bang, courtesy of Glitch Mob. In addition to its synthesizer stabs and mighty drum-machine beats, the trio is renowned for its energetic, extravagant live show, which features a custom-made set piece known as “The Blade.” Trip out on the technology.
Sleeprockers (Noon Saturday, Sept. 19): Lots of folks consider themselves DJs these days, but when it comes to scratching, beat juggling and other turntable trickery, few in Sacramento can get down like Sleeprockers. The crew features an all-star collective of primarily local turntablists, who often are tapped to serve as DJs for Oakland’s famed Hieroglyphics hip-hop collective. These masters of the mix are all well-versed in warp-speed scratching but adept at creating sets that can rock a dance party as well. Laptop and iPod DJs – this is how it’s supposed to be done.
Vérité (5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept 19): For those on the lookout for a new favorite musical act, Nutting suggests Vérité. The New York-based band leader Kelsey Byrne already has been awarded “next big thing” status by Time magazine, with impassioned singer-songwriter stylings that are supported by a sturdy backbone of drum machine beats and other electronic embellishments.
Tycho (9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19): And now for one of Sacramento’s electronic music success stories. Some might remember when Tycho – the stage name of Scott Hansen – was playing Fox & Goose, Old Ironsides and other local music spots. Tycho has since relocated to San Francisco and emerged as a leading artist in the ambient music landscape. A mix of soothing electronics and live instrumentation, Tycho’s set will be the perfect way to chill out following a day at the festival.
Dinosaur Jr. (5:45 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20): Let’s rewind to 1991, when Dinosaur Jr. headlined the Crest Theatre, with a little band called Nirvana as an opening act. That show has long been a highlight of local music lore. All these years later, Dinosaur Jr.’s melodic, guitar-driven indie-rock still rattles eardrums in just the right ways.
A-Trak (6:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20): He was once known as the Doogie Howser of scratching, a whiz-kid of a DJ with talents that belied his years. Some two decades later, A-Trak ranks among the A-list of the DJing world and a highly regarded taste-maker via his Fool’s Gold Records. A-Trak infuses his sets with enough technical skills to wow fellow turntablists in the crowd, yet his primary mission is to get rumps shaking while plenty of bass thumps in the background.
Quick picks: Will Tyler, The Creator give a shout-out to his former Elk Grove stamping grounds during his 9:45 p.m. set Friday? Either way, he’s the rare rapper who inspires mosh pits and crowd surfers, and will surely bring the heat to TBD. Also on the hip-hop end, Mobb Deep (6:15 p.m. Saturday) brings that classic and rugged East Coast flavor, while Lyrics Born (3:45 p.m. Sunday) offers an uptempo live show by way of the Bay Area.
We’re also digging on the down-home rock sounds of Dr. Dog (4:15 p.m. Sunday), and look forward to a TBD-wide sing-a-long of “Shout” as Tears For Fears rolls through its set (7:15 p.m. Sunday), with Gen X-ers in the crowd having flashbacks to the Reagan years.
What: Three days of eclectic sounds, local foods and futuristic arts in West Sacramento’s Tower Bridge District
When: 3 to 11:30 p.m. Friday; noon to 11:30 p.m. Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Riverfront Street near Bridge Street, West Sacramento
Cost: $209 plus fees for three-day general admission pass; $129 plus fees for two-day pass; single-day tickets $69-$89. VIP packages and group discounts are also available.