Dane Smith, Xpress Clubland editor and A&E writer:
1. Explosions in the Sky — For an uber-melodic, instrumental indie rock band, Explosions in the Sky pack one hell of a punch. The songs tend to build slowly, but the epic-ness of their climax cannot be overstated. Live, it's the sort of collective experience that makes a person feel like a small drop of water in a crashing tidal wave. Whether you're partaking in chemical enhancements or taking it in stone cold sober, this set is sure to leave a mark.
2. Primus 3D — For more than 20 years, Primus has been pushing (and shoving) the boundaries of weirdness in rock 'n' roll, and not just through its music (those old enough to recall the heyday of MTV may recall some rather unsettling music videos). In 2010, the notoriously irreverent prog outfit brought its Oddity Faire to the Orange Peel, a sideshow of performers, artists and musicians, which preceded the release of Primus' first full-length in more than a decade. This time around, Primus brings a "3D enhanced live musical performance" which promises a "one-of-a-kind psychedelic experience, further enhanced by the fact that every show will also feature Quad Surround Sound." Need I say more?
3. Black Moth Super Rainbow — As its name might suggest, Black Moth Super Rainbow is psychedelic and enigmatic, with a tendency toward the conceptual. The Pittsburgh-based outfit's members all go by aliases (Tobacco, Bullsmear, Seven Fields of Aphelion, etc.) and its biography reveals little, if any, actual biographical information about the band. However, it's delightfully unpredictable psychedelia is surprisingly accessible, heavy on warm analog synths and ominous chord progressions. With any luck, the band's live show will be half as bizarre and entertaining as its mind-bending videos.
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Alli Marshall, Xpress A&E writer:
1. Divine Fits — I love my indie-rock and Britt Daniel (of Spoon) is pretty much indie-rock royalty. Divine Fits is Daniels' new side project with Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade/Handsome Furs and Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks. So it's kind of like a super group, only the band has made clear in early interviews that they don't care for that term. However, beyond the cliche of privilege and cheese, the super group concept means said band is formed of tried-and-true players which means a level of immediate trust from the audience (hence why Divine Fits can release an album — A Thing Called Divine Fits, forthcoming from Merge Records — first and tour later.
2. Thomas Dolby — Why? Because of 1982's "She Blinded Me With Science," of course!
And because of his space-age/time-traveler/steampunk aesthetic, which he's nurtured since the '80s. And, because when I think of synthesizer music, I can't but help think of the '80s, so I'm glad to see some of that time-frame represented. (Dolby built his own synthesizer in the '70s, so he's legit.) Also, FYI, Dolby has been the director of music for TED since 2001.
3. Julia Holter — Going out on a limb here and choosing Julia Holter, an ambient/atmospheric/classical musician from L.A. I'd never heard of Holter before the Moogfest lineup announcement, but one thing I love about this festival is the chance to discover new music. Holter's songs range from really experimental ("Bars in Afternoons" is 15+ minutes of field records — conversations, piano noodling, glasses clinking, chairs scraping — from bars) to stylishly moody. Her voice is angelic without being precious.
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Jordan Lawrence (Music Editor at Shuffle Magazine; Xpress contributor):
1. GZA - No question about what the most exciting set is for me. In this performance, we get one of Wu-Tang's best performing the album that built his considerable and well-deserved legend. This isn't quite as overwhelming as Suicide playing its debut from beginning to end, but it's close.
2. Four Tet - With a litany of innovative indie rock remixes and a distinctive production style that balances kinetic rhythm with lush, layered melodies, Four Tet is among the most exciting electronic musicians I know. Mighty excited to see what he can do live.
3. Explosions in the Sky - Admittedly, I would have much rather seen the recently reunited Godspeed You! Black Emperor in this slot, Explosions in the Sky are still a potent post-rock progenitor with a renowned live show. I'll take it.
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Jake Frankel, Xpress staff reporter:
1. Santigold — I was lucky to see Santigold at Bonnaroo a few years ago and she blew me away. At the time she was touring in support of her self-titled debut album, which has been a constant on my playlist ever since. The songs on her new album, "Master of Make-Believe," are just as fun, sexy and delightfully strange, and I can't wait to see her perform them live. I might even dance like this guy did:
2. Primus 3D — Bassist Les Claypool has one of the most brilliantly demented minds in pop music. I have no idea what to expect of his band's "first-ever traveling 3D-enhanced live musical performance," but my curiosity couldn't be piqued any higher.
3. GZA presents Liquid Swords / Wick-It The Instigator — "The Genius" of the Wu-Tang Clan performs his classic album "Liquid Swords" in its entirety. It doesn't get much better than this for fans of 90s hip-hop. In terms of rap acts on the lineup, I'm also looking forward to seeing Wick-It The Instigator, mastermind of "The Brothers of Chico Dusty," one of my favorite mashups of all time. The Nashville-based producer and seamlessly combines The Black Keys' "Brothers" with vocals from Big Boi's "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty." Download if for free here.
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Elijah Wyman, frontman for local indie-pop band The Decent Lovers (who perform Friday, Sept. 7 at the Emerald Lounge with Emily Easterly):
1. Divine Fits — Mainly because I love Spoon! I'm afraid to listen to Divine Fits because I want it to be good.
2. Thomas Dolby — In high school I only had a few cassettes in my car for a couple years Radiohead, The Breeders, Jay Z and Thomas Dolby. I wore those tapes thin and still adore them all.
3. Miike Snow / Prefuse 73 — I'll be honest, I only know that radio hit about "Animals," by Miike Snow, but I love that song. I've probably listened to a billion remixes of it. …I just realized Prefuse 73 is also playing. I definitely wore out The Books Remixes. I kind of wish I picked him over Miike Snow.
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Caitlin Byrd, Xpress staff reporter:
1. Explosions in the Sky — When I was in high school and heard "Time Stops," I immediately looked up their tour schedule. Finding only a sold-out show in Virginia, I contemplated making the drive just to stand outside and ask every passersby for a ticket. My parents immediately forbade it. Now that Explosions in the Sky will be playing at Moogfest, maybe I'll be swaying to their music instead of plotting a foiled teenage plan.
2. The Magnetic Fields — Who didn't want to see this band after listening to 69 Love Songs?
3. Julia Holter — Whenever I go any music festival, I always like to give myself at least one wildcard show where I've never heard the music of the artist or band before the festival lineup was published. Julia Holter is my wildcard show for Moogfest. In a music festival dominated by men, I want to see how her ethereal voice translates.
Photo of Thomas Dolby from his blog.