Apache Lake Music Festival recently announced the dates of this year's festival, October 23 and 24. With the announcement also comes the lineup speculation. ALMF in the past has pegged certain bands like Dry River Yacht Club, Japhy’s Descent, Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special, and Banana Gun to name a few, to play year in and year out. While those bands are terrific, change is good, and I for one am hoping for a little more variety moving forward.
ALMF organizers Brannon Kleinlein and Paul “P.C.” Cardone will no doubt tap many of their old favorites for the lakeside romp in Roosevelt. But hopefully they will also make a few bold additions to the lineup. There are dozens of locals who are good enough — and fun enough — to entertain the crowd at Apache Lake, but here are 10 suggestions for bands that could make solid additions in 2015.
I feel I've been harping on the hip-hop appetite of the Phoenix indie scene for a long time now, and I’m sincerely hoping that someone starts listening soon. For a multitude of reasons, the Stakes are the perfect band to wet the hip-hop beaks of the rock ’n’ roll and jam band fans at ALMF. The group’s lyricists, Lord Kash and Zeedubb, spit insightful and uplifting lyrics over the funky and frequently jammy tones that the band lays down. All mixed together with the modern R&B sound of the group's singer, Holly Pyle, makes their musical style appealing to a wide audience of music fans, ranging from hip-hop heads to jazz fans to jam band fans.
Black Bottom Lighters
BBL is a bona fide reggae headliner here in the Valley, and the ALMF crowd loves the Irie vibes while lakeside. Reggae acts like Kush County, Walt Richardson, The WIley Ones, and The Hourglass Cats have played exciting sets by the lake, and with Black Bottom Lighters showing that it is nearly on a level with national touring acts like Katastro, it’s only a matter of time before BBL is no longer an option for a locally based festival like Apache Lake.
Phantom Airship's music is different from anything else being made in town. The two-piece electronic music act has a way of being both ethereal and ambient while still being loud enough to attract cops to a house party and abrasive enough to command attention. The group may not be the act Cardone and Kleinlein want opening Saturday morning or headlining Friday night. But after most of the crowd has been “influenced” later in the night, Phantom Airship would make for a great change of pace from rock ’n’ roll sets.
With the hero’s welcome Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra received at ALMF 2014, JFunk seems a natural progression for the festival to make. It’s not that one is better than the other, but they both offer a similar aesthetic, with their large lineups, face paint, costumes, and theatrics, not to mention their worldly sounds. Jerusafunk would be a stellar band to get the party shaking with a 9 p.m. Friday set because Phoenix loves a band like Jerusafunk. The group is loud, fun, funky, and just weird enough that it gets the party started without requiring a taste of the avant-garde. Quite frankly, I would be shocked if I don’t find out JFunk was at least invited to get down at ALMF 2015.
Bad Neighbors has big plans to release its debut record this summer, and if everything goes according to plan, the group should be blazing hot by late October. The band has been progressing its sound as far as it can since adding a full-time bass player, freeing up standout frontman Martin Schaffer to act even more strange and erratic on stage than he did when he was playing bass and singing. The band has a deep progressive sound musically, and Schaffer’s spoken-word poetry combines beautifully with the music to make a unique sound for the Phoenix music scene.
Andy Warpigs definitely has made the rounds through the Valley, but the eccentric coffee shop cowboy still has yet to make it onto the Apache Lake Music Festival Lineup, so why not change that now? The guy has been doing his darndest to make himself a staple of the Phoenix music scene over the past three years or so, and he’s really doing a hell of a job. He’s run regular shows at venues in downtown and West Phoenix, all while producing funny and often thought-provoking music. His folk-punkiness may be a little different than the acts that usually inhabit ALMF, but if Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold could do it in 2013, why not Andy Warpigs in 2015?
Pro Teens' brand of surf rock meets dream pop is beautiful, and hearing the group's psychedelic sound echoing through the canyons of Apache Lake would more than likely be an awesome experience. The band is festival-ready and really hasn’t been getting the nod from the local festival scene, but it’s time to get with it. Pro Teens is rock enough to keep the old school rock ‘n roll guys out at ALMF happy while still more than psychedelic enough to have the flower-crown crowd swaying in the wind.
The Invincible Grins
The Invincible Grins aren’t actually a Phoenix band because they hail from the Verde Valley, but they recorded with Hot Rock Supa Joint, so we will give them a pass. Besides, ALMF isn’t all local anyway.Their style of bluegrass folk with a pirate sensibility would fit right in on the shores of Apache Lake and their hodge-podge of weird personalities would probably make fast friends with the oddballs at the lake. The Grins have been hovering around the Phoenix music scene for a few years now, and the time seems right for them to dive in head first.
“Space needed a soundtrack” is what Zodiac Bash’s facebook page says to describe its music, and that is a good way to put it. The band makes a psychedelic brand of synth rock that relies heavily on the above-average guitar skills of Benjamin Fuqua. The group would be a perfect band for a late-night indoor set, with their heavy jam tunes, a la Umphrey's McGee. Zodiac Basg spent the month of April refining its sound with a residency at the Rogue. And with an album on the horizon, the group is sounding terrific and primed for festival appearances.
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I don’t mean to dry-snitch on ALMF, but there may be a few campers out there who indulge in Hot Rock Supa Joint’s favorite plant (though I am sure every last one of them has a card). But why not celebrate that fact in the wildest way possible, with the 6-foot-6 living, breathing cartoon character mascot for that sort of thing? Supa Joint is wildly different from any other act ALMF has ever booked, because he comes from the deeper depths of the weird. Hot Rock would be guaranteed to get the party rocking if given a set at ALMF 2015.