Seven Unmissable Acts at Flying Burrito Festival 2019

In Mirrors will perform at Flying Burrito Festival ahead of his opening set for Chromatics later this spring.
Johnny Jewel
In Mirrors will perform at Flying Burrito Festival ahead of his opening set for Chromatics later this spring.
After bidding farewell to Viva PHX in 2017, Stateside Presents (The Van Buren, Crescent Ballroom, Valley Bar) gave us something new last year in the form of Flying Burrito Festival. At FBF, Stateside scaled things down, highlighting emerging acts and burrito-toting food trucks along a Second Avenue block party outside of Crescent for the price of a fancy cocktail. Flying Burrito returns this year with a stronger boast than its debut: More bands, more burritos, less money.

By and large, FBF focuses on the road to SXSW, giving rising acts a great opportunity to warm up before a week of shows in Austin, Texas. But we’ll also get to see plenty of Arizona mainstays show their stuff, including a namesake set of Calexico playing Flying Burrito Brothers material. All in all, it’s an action-packed Saturday for less than $2 an hour, and here, we have five acts that you absolutely do not want to miss. Gerrit Feenstra

Jerry Paper

After years of relative obscurity, 2018 marked a highlight for Lucas Nathan, the synth-pop wunderkind who braves wavy frontiers under the name Jerry Paper. On the excellent LP Like A Baby (released on Stones Throw Records), Jerry Paper is a unicorn treading green landscapes somewhere between the introvert electro of Dent May and the freak-out dreamland of Tyler the Creator. Inasmuch, it’s no surprise that Tyler asked Nathan to make an appearance on his Grinch-themed holiday EP. The only thing that will outshine Nathan’s cool croon on stage at Crescent is the dance party. GF

click to enlarge Illuminati Hotties - KRISTY BENJAMIN
Illuminati Hotties
Kristy Benjamin
Illuminati Hotties
After years of production and technical engineering work for artists like Amen Dunes, Slowdive, and Porches, Sarah Tudzin now gives us the culmination of her learnings in the form of Illuminati Hotties: tongue-in-cheek beachside melancholy on a level with bands like Alvvays and Alex Lahey. Her aptly-titled debut album, Kiss Yr Frenemies, explores the messy nature of love and low-budget survival in a city that never feels quite as big as it should. Her set will be a perfect prologue to warming weather and summer nights of endless opportunity. GF

Soft Kill

The last decade has seen a massive swell in the amount of post-punk revival bands. From Edmonton’s Preoccupations to Protomartyr of Detroit and more, dozens of bands have popped up with a brand of brooding, atmospheric rock. Go ahead and add Soft Kill to that tally. The Portland, Oregon band’s latest record, Choke, is full of dark chords and airy guitar textures that’ll make any fan of this burgeoning scene feel right at home. We especially like the slightly jangly, beach-rock vibe on “Wake Up.” Douglas Markowitz

click to enlarge Local indie rock band Nanami Ozone performs at Hope Hall. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Local indie rock band Nanami Ozone performs at Hope Hall.
Benjamin Leatherman
Nanami Ozone
Two Arizona acts will be returners at Flying Burrito: Unmissable Tucson cumbia collective Vox Urbana, and quite possibly Phoenix’s best emerging rock act, Nanami Ozone. Less than a week from their set at FBF, the four piece will release their highly anticipated second LP, NO. Lead single “Alone Too” showcases a band that has put ample work in to build on the strength of an already impressive debut, while deeper album cuts like “Something to You” flex a confidence and fervor relatively unseen among their peers. Their Asada Stage appearance will be a great sneak peak of this exciting new chapter. GF

In Mirrors

This year, L.A.-based electronic collective Italians Do It Better will put on their first tour in over five years. Chromatics and Desire will embark on a co-headlining tour, bringing along Jesse Taylor, a.k.a. In Mirrors, who has been collaborating with Chromatics’ Johnny Jewel for over a decade. In Mirrors’ 2017 debut, Escape From Berlin, is an ambient, visceral soundtrack to dark dreams. Here, Taylor mixes dark dance music, ethereal textures, and a wonderful Stevie Nicks cover to make a masterpiece. Thanks to FBF, Phoenix gets a priceless gift in the form of two In Mirrors sets in one year. GF

click to enlarge Numb.er - JEFF FRIBOURG
Jeff Fribourg
UK electronic duo The KVB write sequenced ’80s-leaning jams in the universe of New Order and Depeche Mode, so who better to bring along on a U.S. tour than an L.A. post-punk band channeling the same idols? Numb.er, led by photographer Jess Fribourg, take a little The Cure, a touch of Modern English, and a sprinkle of Siouxsie. They don’t try to hide the heroes — instead, they lean into them. Debut full-length Goodbye showcases years of careful consideration, culminating in a record on par with other worshippers at the post-punk altar like Iceage and Total Control. GF

click to enlarge Calexico will play a Flying Burrito Bros. cover set at Flying Burrito Fest 2019. - JAIRO ZAVALA RUIZ
Calexico will play a Flying Burrito Bros. cover set at Flying Burrito Fest 2019.
Jairo Zavala Ruiz
Calexico Playing The Flying Burrito Bros.
Now, it wouldn’t be suitable if a festival didn’t pay tribute to its namesake, now would it? Luckily, this one picked a right-tootin’ one in The Flying Burrito Bros., the now-classic country rock band whose slightly psychedelic take on Americana is top-notch. Naturally, since the Bros. hung up their guitars a while ago, Phoenix’s own Calexico will be taking up the mantle to play a set of covers of the older band. Can we get a yeehaw? DM

Flying Burrito Festival. 4 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue; crescentphx.com. Tickets are $16 via Ticketfly.