Independents’ Day is, quite frankly, the best music festival in Columbus. The Downtown celebration of independent culture and commerce consistently assembles a lineup that speaks to the breadth and depth of talent coming out of Columbus.
It’s not perfect, of course — this year’s bill lacks punk and mostly overlooks the jammy side of the scene — but it gets a lot right. In addition to four live music stages, they’ve added electronic dance music, comedy, fashion, film and more.
It sounds like an awesome way to spend a September day. So come to the intersection of Gay and Pearl sometime Saturday and pick your flavor of choice. Here’s a guide to the performers, broken down loosely by genre.
Heavy stuff: Headlining powerhouse Struck By Lightning has been scaling back with frontman Greg Lahm at CCAD, so that should be at the top of your list — unless nationally respected psych behemoths EYE or Lo-Pan top your list instead. Brujas del Sol makes expansive, inventive hard rock, while The End of the Ocean specializes in tsunami-sized instrumentals. WHITE WOLVES go vocals-free too, but with more riffs and less walls of sound.
Hip-hop: Although Fly.Union (understandably) dropped off the Independents’ Day lineup to tour with Kendrick Lamar, there’s still plenty of rap Saturday. The smooth-rhyming, increasingly surly P. Blackk is the obvious go-to pick. Path’s cloud rap will be extra disorienting in the light of day. Apocalypse Inc. could get by on hustle alone. T-Tone the Voice kicks out hardscrabble-meets-pop sounds reminiscent of Fat Joe, while Hafrican can let the words rip rapid-fire.
Americana: Nobody sounds like The Black Swans, whose mastery of weird-old-man folk only sharpens with age. For more straightforward twang, try Slim White & the Averys. Spikedrivers/Field Dogs/Royal Tycoons main man Jesse Henry fronts yet another ensemble called Strutterfly, which supposedly gets all Graceland up in here (not sure if that means Elvis or Paul Simon). In from Dayton, Breeders sister Kelley Deal’s new R. Ring explores the quiet side of folksy indie; The Lost Revival handles the loud and anthemic side.
Indie-rock, bright-and-punchy division: Perhaps the most bountiful category is this one, featuring Connections’ vitalizing ragtag pop, reunions from the hooky Bookmobile and the urgently brisk Miranda Sound, melancholy beach jams from Petit Mal, melodious power from Pittsburgh imports Donora and twee treats from Mary Lynn. The recently revived Watershed will bang out power-pop proper as well.
Indie-rock, epic and expansive division: The city’s second most popular yellow-clad team, Flotation Walls, has been hard at work on new masterpieces. The Saturday Giant will conjure enormous sounds all by his damn self. Indigo Wild is the (admittedly short) bridge between Death Cab and Arcade Fire. In Silent Movies does the shoegaze thing with propulsive power. Akron’s The Sewing Machine War sounds 10 years past its time in a good way. Last-minute add-on Reverse the Curse trades in post-hardcore sounds that blend the brutal and the beautiful. Alert New London plays slow-build shoegaze with a cinematic swoop, while afortiori takes a more aggressive tack on melancholia.
Jazzy/brassy fare: Don’t miss soul innovators Forest & the Evergreens, whose set is rumored to feature a P. Blackk guest spot. The Alpine Ghost approaches jazz in forward-thinking fashion; The Quinn Essentials kicks it old-school. The Skashank Redemption does what you think it does.