It’s one thing to boast that you knew about an artist “before they were cool,” but it’s infinitely more legitimate when you can say you saw them as an opener before they were a headliner. So here’s a tip: go early, put down your smart phone and give the opener a shot.
Our Ones to Watch artists, past and present, have an eye for future ones to watch. They’ve been curating some of the best budding talent and plucking them for their own shows, so you might want to trust their judgment.
5. Beat Connection
Nothing makes us more joyful than catchy, dance-inducing indie pop. Beat Connection, tapped by the effortlessly cool and discreet sextet Jungle, excels at just that. This electro-pop ensemble produces bright, tropical tunes a la St. Lucia. Its glimmering synth, echoing vocals and steel drums evoke summer on island beaches, and there aren’t many daydream locales that beat that.
Opened for: Lorde
Matt Hemerlein, the man behind the moniker, is a classically trained artist who plays violin, cello, piano, mandolin, guitar and upright bass, but his music is unmistakably pop. His strings bounce playfully off electronic elements and reverberate against a voice that can glide easily from soft but kinetic into soaring falsetto. It’s a one-man-show that takes pop in a new direction. Give credit where credit is due.
3. Majical Cloudz
Opening for: Lorde
Lorde definitely knows how to pick them, and Majical Cloudz could not be more worthy of the spotlight. The hauntingly simple, yet infinitely deep music is punctuated by creeping violins, gently knocking beats and, most significantly, singer Devon Welsh’s palpable emotion. Is it cold in here or do we have goosebumps?
2. Shy Girls
Opening for: Haim
This seductive, neo R&B-act is yet another in a rising trend that includes How to Dress Well, James Blake and Rhye, and yet what the band creates is nothing less than stirring and alluring. Front man Dan Vidmar oozes sensuality with his falsetto, his voice hovering over a lush layering of pulsing bass, slinky guitar and synth hooks. Play a couple of tracks and you’ll find yourself slinking into rapture.
Opened for: Noah and the Whale
You might recall LP’s track “Into the Wild” from a Citibank commercial, but this dynamic singer can hardly be squeezed in a TV spot. Her piercing warble, coupled with a high-pitched whistle that slices through her ukulele, is already its own signature sound. LP’s voice fluctuates between its genuine rasp and impeccably timed squeaks, making hers a voice like any other.