This year's ComFest lineup does a much better job of sprinkling some of the more CD102.5-ish acts throughout the stages. In other words, you'll have to leave the Offramp Stage this year for something other than beer and food.

This year's ComFest lineup does a much better job of sprinkling some of the more CD102.5-ish acts throughout the stages. In other words, you'll have to leave the Offramp Stage this year for something other than beer and food. We have a headlining turn on the Live Arts Stage from Damn the Witch Siren, and the Bummers are on the Bozo stage, just to name two on Friday alone. We like this. It keeps the festival relevant and fresh, particularly at a time when more festivals (e.g., Urban Scrawl, Independents' Day) are cropping up in Columbus and catering to that audience (i.e., you). ComFest is still ComFest though - which means there are as many jambands as hula hoopers. But let us otherwise help you pick through the rest of the lineup. -Justin McIntosh

Picks from Justin McIntosh, Abernathy Miller, Andy Downing, Brad Keefe, Jesse Tigges and Meghan Ralston



2:15 p.m. | Offramp Stage

Daymare makes the kind of earnest and hook-filled rock that I dig, so I'm glad it's finally en vogue to have feelings again. Think White Pony-era Deftones, Quicksand and other stuff that mixed heavy and melodic in the days that led to emo. BK

Thunder Thighs

2:40 p.m. | Solar Stage

ComFest can feel like an all-out assault on the senses, so it makes sense to carve out a bit of space for introspection where you can, which is precisely what Thunder Thighs' music offers. Performing solo and utilizing a loop pedal, warm-voiced singer-songwriter Sally Louise Polk crafts delicate, folk-leaning tracks that naturally draw listeners closer, as though engaged in intimate conversation. AD

Massive Bozo block featuring Bummers, The Girls!, Comrade Question and the Dew Droppers

6:55 p.m. to close | Bozo Stage

Three-quarters of this block features previous Alive Bands to Watch winners, which, you know, makes it ridiculously promising. The DewDroppers' infectious swing will start things out with a performance that's been three years in the making. Next up is garage-psych crew Comrade Question, then the Jessica Wabbit-led The Girls! and, finally, a closing set from fuzz-rockers Bummers, which just recently played the Nelsonville Music Festival and Bunbury. Thisentire block gives you the quality of a paid festival for free. Not to be missed.MR

Cadaver Dogs

8:45 p.m. | Offramp Stage

Two-piece powerhouse Cadaver Dogs is an exercise in decadence. Singer/guitarist Mat Franklin and drummer Lex Vegas' slash-and-burn approach to sex-steeped sleaze rock (think The Eagles of Death Metal/Semi Precious Weapons) make the perfect soundtrack to kick off a debauchery-filled ComFest weekend. Come for the riffs, stay for the spectacle; you'll be making out with a sweaty stranger in no time. AM

Devil Doves

9:50 p.m. | Solar Stage

Closing out Friday night with the garage-meets-folk rockers Devil Doves is surely recommended. Junior Kauffman's desperate, gruff vocals bounce off the swaying, blues-suffused beats. The band's infectious, good-natured stage presence and animated musical stylings dichotomizes any of the lyrics' melancholy with aplomb. Pro-tip: Get a sweaty, post-show hug from drummer Kyle Davis for full ComFest effect. JT

Damn the Witch Siren

10 p.m. | Live Arts Stage

Another Band to Watch alum we're super pumped for, Damn the Witch Siren's shows are a rare blend of aural/visual spectacle. To fully capitalize, ComFest organizers went to special effort to get DTWS on the Live Arts Stage so the duo's projectors will have maximum impact. But this is more than a visual treat. Bobbi Kitten and Z Wolf's atmospheric, synth-driven electronic soundscapes will also propel your body to move along. JM


Bloodthirsty Virgins

11 a.m. | Bozo Stage

Andy Downing described these guys in a recent Sensory Overload column as a band you might hear on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack, particularly for his upcoming western "The Hateful Eight," and that's about as apt a description as I can give. Another apt comparison: Ennio Morricone, which makes this a perfectly memorable soundtrack to your early ComFest Saturday. JM

Playing to Vapors

4:35 p.m. | Offramp Stage

If we're placing bets on Columbus' next breakout band, I'd lay good odds on Playing to Vapors. The group's latest EP, A Glitch in the Void, could easily be all over alternative radio, and they're drum-tight live. I dig the threads of UK influence - recommended for fans of alt-J, Bombay Bicycle Club, etc. - and they should be a perfect midday festival set. BK

Lethal FX

7 and 7:45 p.m. | Offramp Stage

Lethal FX is a human beatboxer. To my knowledge, there haven't been many beatboxing performers at ComFest in the past, so it's especially cool that's he's on the bill. Plus, the idea of book-ending Dominique Larue's set with two 10-minute Lethal FX sets is amazing to me.MR

Dominique Larue

7:10 p.m. | Offramp Stage

If you missed the sharp-tongued, eternally confident Larue at our Bands to Watch showcase earlier this year, here's your chance to make right. The verbally adroit, battle-tested MC will again perform with the sole backing of DJ Pos2, whose soul-flecked beats allow ample space for Larue's skilled wordplay. AD

Mt. Carmel

8:10 | Offramp Stage

This Saturday night closing set is sure to be a rip-roaring one, as Mt. Carmel lays on a straight-forward, dirty rock bent on its latest record Get Pure, which would make any of the sullied bands stomping around Hamtramck grovel in admiration. But the band is also capable of slower, almost soul-like tracks as well, showcasing their ample abilities. JT


Second State Butchers

1:10 p.m. | Offramp Stage

This is a local super group born of Columbus staples: Kyle Siegrist (Lost Weekend Records, Bubba Hotep, Truman Carter and more), Jeff Wiseman (Mors Ontologica), Carolyn O'Leary (SCRAWL, Harvest Kings, Mors Ontologica), Kerry Stewart (Harvest Kings). The group got together to make therapeutic music for themselves, and, turns out, it's been therapeutic for me too. I'm really looking forward to this set.MR

Drift Mouth

2:40 | Offramp Stage

Drift Mouth is a reference to coal-mining, which is a highly appropriate moniker given the band's proclivity for dark, spoil-infused tracks. The subtle, fuzzy guitars rattle and the drip-like drumbeats build a honky tonk ether around lead singer Lou Poster's dark and dissipated baritone vocals - think the lovechild of Leonard Cohen and Craig Finn - as he divulges Appalachian murder ballads and tales of boondock-ian woe. JT

The Sweet S

4:10 p.m. | Offramp Stage

This newly formed group's Bandcamp promises that "sleepy teenagers will like it." Indeed, there's a hazy, lovesick dreaminess to The Sweet S, so much so I've taken to calling it druggy teenage bedroom pop. The vocals are almost whispered at times, with girl-guy harmonies, a little fuzz, a little melody, and a warm '90s nostalgia that adds up to something super sweet and addictive and a feeling like you've taken an Ambien and everything's slowed down and burnt up while your heart beats faster and faster. JM

The Kyle Sowashes

4:55 p.m. | Offramp Stage

The Kyle Sowashes' latest long-player Everybody tackles universal concepts like the process of aging while holding to an irreverent, oft-humorous worldview informed at least in part by singer/guitarist Kyle Sowash's teenage appreciation for artists like "Weird Al" Yankovic and They Might Be Giants. Sonically, the scrappy, guitar-driven band sounds as though it could have emerged in the early '90s, and it shares clear musical kinship with the likes of Archers of Loaf, Superchunk and Guided by Voices. AD

Erica Blinn & The Handsome Machine

7 p.m. | Gazebo Stage

Erica Blinn & The Handsome Machine's brand of cathartic, whiskey-soaked alt-country tunes have a universal appeal for anyone who's had a broken heart and too many hangovers. Taking cues fromThe Eagles and Lucinda Williams, Blinn and Co.'s closing set at the Gazebo Stage will prepare you for the inevitable post-ComFest come-down. AM

The Receiver

7:15 p.m. | Offramp Stage

If you've never experienced the lush dream-pop made by brothers Casey and Jesse Cooper, their weekend-ending Offramp set should be an ideal intro. The material on their new album All Burn still has a layer of old-school prog influences, but really emphasizes the dreamier side (think Mew or Autolux). What a great way to come down from the weekend. BK