10 Must-See Bands at Viva PHX

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This Will Destroy You (10 p.m., Crescent Ballroom)

This Will Destroy You is going to be one of the more engaging acts featured at this year's Viva PHX, more for standing out stylistically than anything else. This fascinating post-rock band (which they hate being called) presents stunning instrumentals filled with atmospheric effects and may seem reminiscent of Explosions In The Sky or our very own Underground Cities. They've been putting out their challenging ambient compositions for over a decade, and their roll through three studio albums seems unabated. I'm certainly hoping another album is in the works, but 2014’s Another Language is still getting heavy play for me, so maybe I can wait a bit longer. I would highly recommend that you check out their wall of noise performance. Let's hope their set is a little later in the evening for maximum enjoyment after the imbibing of your choice.

Sage Francis (9:15 p.m., Crescent Ballroom outdoor stage)

Sage Francis hails from Rhode Island, and he is both a hip-hop artist and a spoken word poet, as well as the founder and CEO for indie hip-hop label Strange Famous Records. Francis has been putting out albums since 2002, and some of his best songs are deeply personal poetry recited over lush musical backdrops, like 2010’s "Best Of Times." I am incredibly curious how his performance will be on stage, because this has a chance of being one of the most captivating and moving shows of the entire evening. Of note, Francis was the first hip-hop artist to be signed to a punk label when he joined Epitaph Records in 2005. Being outspoken and quite political, it will be interesting what his set will hold in regards to our current climate in that realm.

Mystic Braves (8 p.m., Monroe Street outdoor stage)

If you haven't heard 2014s Desert Island by Mystic Braves, I would suggest you pull up to your favorite streaming service and give it a serious listen. It is a half hour well spent and you will be looking for where they are playing and what time that's going down. They have the psychedelic sounds of the '60s down pat in a very similar way that other California bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club evoke that garage heavy era. Their new album just released last November is Days of Yesteryear and you catch that as well as the rest of their catalog on their Bandcamp site to get you fully prepped for what is sure to be an amazing and memorable live set. If you dig retro revivalists, it will only take a few notes of that organ to get you hooked completely.

DZ Deathrays (11 p.m., Punk Rock Alley)

Hailing all the way from Brisbane in Australia, DZ Deathrays are bringing a little dance punk to this festival. They've had two back to back amazing full length albums so far with 2012's Bloodstreams and Black Rat from 2014. Keep in mind this duo is more bent on the "punk" in their dance punk sound, with amazing guitar riffs that are heavy as hell and crashing, explosive drums. They've been making some of the most exciting music coming from down under in recent memory (though fellow Aussies Stonefield may give them a run for their money at VIVA, to be fair). While clearly rooted in finding their own sound, the only thing they are reminiscent is music found at the start of this century when people remembered what rock 'n' roll was all about.
Olmeca (10 p.m., Goldwater Room at Renaissance Hotel)
Bilingual MC, producer, and activist Olmeca is certain to put on one of the most exciting shows of the entire night. I first heard "Browning Of America" when I was researching VIVA's lineup and I ended up getting lost in the entire Brown Is Beautiful album from 2013. His entire catalog from the past eight years is some of the most imaginative hip-hop I've encountered in a while, with a fantastic creative bend that is both reflective and intellectual in its various turns. Olmeca blends so many different influences throughout his records that it’s sometimes difficult to tell that it's the same artist from track to track, and I mean that in the best way possible. His raps and compositions are stunningly compelling and this will be one of the most amazing sets to behold. 
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Mitchell Hillman