6. Blood Orange
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Producer Dev Hynes, the man behind the moniker, is one of the most bracingly genuine and fearless artists to keep an eye on. Filled with gratitude and awareness, Hynes engaged the audience with rousing speeches and donned a handmade shirt that he and girlfriend Samantha Urbani made to honor the victims of police brutality and racial profiling. As for his performance, Hynes glided from his silky crooning to picking up his guitar and laying down his infectious funk-R&B rock.
Rudimental knows how to put on a performance. The team of electronic musicians from across the pond have worked with top-tier rising artists (Ella Eyre, John Newman, Emile Sande and Foxes to name just a few), but turned their beats into a swinging, soulful party. Replete with brass instruments and a stacked team of vocalists, the London outfit strutted about the stage with attitude and energy, finally calling upon the crowd to repeat the chorus to "Feel The Love" as the music faded out. By the strength of their voices, it seemed like the audience really could feel it, too.
His soaring track "Take Me to Church" has been slowly infiltrating alternative radio stations, despite the fact that its album has yet to drop stateside. Dressed in a denim jacket and black converse, Irish singer/songwriter Hozier appeared remarkably American but it was more than his outfit that resonated with the Chicago audience. Hozier has a way of being sensitive without being too twee and his conviction about what it means to be in love coupled with his gorgeous strumming captured hearts in the crowd.
3. Duke Dumont
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This British DJ evokes soul in his work, swelling ’90s-era house with romantic undertones. Best known for his groovy dance tracks "Need U (100%)" and "I Got U" which features power R&B female artist A*M*E on the former and the late Whitney Houston on the latter. Although it can be easy to lose him in the whirlwind of other DJs (Zedd, Martin Garrix and Calvin Harris), the Grammy-nominated Dumont delivered the perfect dose of swaying, sultry summer fun.
2. Courtney Barnett
Photo: James Richards IV
The young Melbourne guitarist was slotted for an early 2:15 set on Friday, pitted against the similarly popular and rising Lucius, Kodaline and Portugal. The Man. Barnett won over her crowd with the bare essentials: her dynamic grit and raw passion. Dressed casually in a t-shirt and jeans (a look also favored by the ladies of Warpaint), Barnett relied only on a drummer and bassist to help her achieve her perfected yet effortless lo-fi rock. The songwriter has a way of capturing ears in the most unassuming way, which works to her advantage; her lyrics are full of wit and unfiltered self-reflection.
1. Royal Blood
This U.K. twosome is dark, thudding and electric. Royal Blood came together last year and in the short months since have been hand-plucked by Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, who wore their t-shirt to the Glastonbury festival, and then by the band collectively as their opener. Not for the faint of heart, Royal Blood rocks and thrashes harder than most rock bands today.