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Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, May. 4, 2016 1 year ago

Pride in the Park

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Each year, the Harvey Milk Festival brings in a new batch of up-and-coming musicians. Meet this year's lineup:
by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

Every year since 2010, the Harvey Milk Festival has presented a three-day celebration of music, art and equality — all honoring the life and legacy of the festival's namesake, Harvey Milk: one of America's first openly gay politicians.

This Thursday, May 12, the 7th annual festival returns, kicking off with a live art installation by Belaxis Buil, followed by a live theatrical performance by Octavio Campos, called "America's Next President."

Closing out the festival May 14, is the day-long music festival in Five Points Park. 

"I'm a huge music geek," says Anthony Paull, one of the event's organizers. "I obsess about it. I follow blogs, travel to festivals and keep on top of trends and emerging artists. That's one of the things we love about this festival: introducing Sarasota to bands that would normally never play here, that they might not know about. Ultimately, it's about bringing together the community. It doesn't matter if you're gay, straight — that's not your identity. It's just part of who you are. What matters is bringing people together and promoting equality." 

Meet this year's lineup:

AVAN LAVA

WHO ARE THEY?

First things first: It's pronounced "Ah-vahn Lah-vah." Feel free to assert your newfound superiority as you see fit. Linguistics aside, this New York-based synth-pop outfit — and this year's Harvey Milk Festival headliner — is party incarnate. When the list of things a band is known for includes choreographed dance routines in matching mesh outfits, an endless onslaught of confetti cannons and the singer crowdsurfing in an inflatable dinghy, you know you're in for a good show.

The band is known for its high-energy stage antics, über-positive danceability and contributing music to fashion campaigns for designers including Dior, Viktor & Rolf, Calvin Klein and Miu Miu. 

Party on. 

SOUNDS LIKE: An all-night dance party

FOR THE: Guilt-free’90s throwbacker, synthesizer apologists and anyone who lives to cut a rug.

LISTEN UP

PWR BTTM

WHO ARE THEY? 

There's nothing subtle about this queer-punk Hudson, NY-based duo. From their cheeky name to their drag clothing and smeared, glittery makeup, Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins aren't afraid to be bold. Boasting honest, clever lyrics ("We can do our makeup in the parking lot / we can get so famous that we both get shot / but right now, I'm in the shower) and jangly, overdriven guitar with surprising bursts of virtuosity, this headliner is a perfect fit for the festival. 

The band recently played SXSW and has appeared on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts series, where Bruce and Hopkins cracked endearing jokes, traded off instruments and dropped enough glitter to keep cleaning staff occupied for weeks. 

Plus, you've gotta love a singer bold enough to solicit suitors by inserting his own email address into a song about seeking companionship ([email protected], by the way, if you think you fit the bill).

SOUNDS LIKE: A leather jacket with a rainbow patch; distorted guitars coated in glitter 

FOR THE: Guitar-lover, fans of punk rock and the most fabulous of rebels.

LISTEN UP

 

Krisp

WHO ARE THEY?

There's no shortage of home-state pride at this year's festival. Krisp, a four-piece indie dance band from Miami, blends grooving bass lines, ’80s synth tones and smooth, surfy guitar chords to create a sound that's part spacey electro, part rock — and all dance.

SOUNDS LIKE: The "Drive" soundtrack meets any "Miami Vice" boat-chase scene

FOR THE: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City addict, Flock of Seagulls revivalists and anyone who remembers Max Headroom

LISTEN UP: 

 

Tomboi

WHO ARE THEY?

This queer, electronic rock trio from Jacksonville blends psychedelia, ’80s electronic influences and rock guitar for a truly unique sound. Reverb-soaked vocals that alternate between gruff and airy intertwine with tough guitar licks, driving drums and ethereal keyboards for an enigmatic appeal that's equal parts Heart and Haim. 

SOUNDS LIKE: Patti Smith, armed with a vocoder 

FOR THE: Start of a weird night, fans of Grace Slick and equality crusaders

LISTEN UP: 

 

AMFMS

WHO ARE THEY?

Hailing from the Baltimore area, AMFMS will bring audiences off the dance floor and into the garage with fuzzed-out guitars, atmosphere abound and a vibe that's best described as seductive ’70s grunge. 

SOUNDS LIKE: If Julian Casablancas joined The War on Drugs — played through a transistor radio

FOR THE: Basement rocker, jean-jacket aficionados and fans of ’70s rock ’n’ roll

LISTEN UP: 

Millionyoung

WHO ARE THEY?

"They" are actually a "he." South Florida’s producer, DJ and performer Mike Diaz, to be precise. Often described as chill wave, Diaz's music incorporates sampled bits, electronic elements and his own vocals. 

SOUNDS LIKE: A cantina-turned nightclub

FOR THE: Chill session; Fans of M83

LISTEN UP: 

 

Bluejay

WHO ARE THEY?

Miami-based Bluejay has an unlikely mix of styles. Expect trance, spiritual, folk, pop and tribal elements. 

SOUNDS LIKE: Percussion-driven folk music

FOR THE: Lucid dream, cello-lovers and floor-tom addicts

LISTEN UP: https://bluejay.bandcamp.com/album/bluejay-mixtape-vol-1

Someday River

WHO ARE THEY?

Rooted in folk music, Florida band Someday River paints sweeping, percussion-driven, slow-building jams, complete with ethereal vocals. 

SOUNDS LIKE: Indie songwriting meets a jam band with pop sensibilities

FOR THE: Introspective shoegazer; fans of St. Lucia

LISTEN UP: https://soundcloud.com/somedayriver/sets/2015-releases

Physical Plant

WHO ARE THEY?

Sarasota-based Physical Plant is one of the most talented live acts in town. High-energy live performances meet catchy hooks and pitch-perfect vocal harmonies. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the shredding guitar virtuosity of Josh Scheible — there's certainly no shortage of it.

SOUNDS LIKE: Old-school psychedelic rock. Smooth, easy listening tunes with an in-your-face edge

FOR THE: Musician; Guitar-lovers and anyone who loves a good vocal harmony

LISTEN UP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IibTPQMVmE

Sam Robertson

WHO ARE THEY?

Sarasota's own singer-songwriter Sam Robertson brings a sensitive, airy voice to carefully crafted acoustic numbers with a flair for the folksy.

SOUNDS LIKE: Soul food for the ears

FOR THE: Hopeful romantic, fans of Regina Spektor and anyone who's a sucker for a beautiful voice — and who isn't?

LISTEN UP: http://samrobertson.bandcamp.com/album/couldve-been-ep

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