Chilled out and supremely smooth, Gramatik became a true music artist of the internet age after achieving success with the first album he uploaded, for free, on Beatport. Since his 2008 debut, the Slovenian-born, New York City-based hip hop and electronic music producer has been prolific, starting his own record label, Low Temp, and creating music that’s become the soundtrack for sophisticated lamping around the world. His stage act features live musicians filling in the layered and propulsive instrumentation for his head-bobbing, foot moving tracks.
Coming out of Hampton, Virginia, D.R.A.M has every right to bend and break the rules. Armed with a flow that’s on par with the best rappers, D.R.A.M isn’t satisfied with boxes or boundaries. On his latest release, he simply chucks out the playbook and laces the bubbling, upbeat track with Bobby Womack-style singing, tapping into a past rooted in the church choir and a future that’s up to him to create. A little bit trap, a little bit 80s, and none of that f$%k all y’all attitude. Check the live show and get lifted.
Keys N Krates
Start with eerie organs, add in some synthed-out vocal loops and then, drop that bass. If you’ve been to a Keys N Krates show, you know the drill. If you haven’t, prepare to get schooled. The Toronto-based electronic trio’s first EP, “Treat Me Right,” was released on the legendary DJ Steve Aoki’s label and hyped by artists including Diplo and Major Lazer. Keys N Krates takes the stage with a drum kit, keyboard and turntables, flooring venues with electronic music that will sure to have dance heads in the audience writhing.
Drawing on a deep musical talent and knowledge of styles from jazz to reggae and funk, Vermont-based Twiddle has earned a national following. The four-piece outfit blends melodic harmonies with virtuoso complexity, churning out improvisational jams that drive their fans nuts. The band started from simple jam sessions back at Castleton University in Vermont, but the chemistry between the founding members was undeniable, and the group soon took their music on tour, blowing minds across the northeast. The rest, as they say, is history. And a perfect chance to see the band live, since they are now infamous for selling out every venue.
The Record Company
Now here’s a formula for a live music showcase: foot-stomping slide guitar, swampy bass licks and soulful vocals about loss and loneliness. Three-piece LA-based band The Record Company delivers stripped-down blues, grinding through sets that leave audiences sweaty and stoked. The Record Company has opened up concerts for a diverse list of class acts, from the bona fide soul of Mavis Staples to the gutter soaked anthems of Social Distortion. The Record Company mixes the mid-century rock swagger (think Led Zeppelin) with belt-it-out singing (think Al Green) for a modern take on timeless music.
Minneapolis-based hip-hop artist Lizzo spans musical styles, from straight nasty lyrical throw downs to the soul-drenched club-ready anthem, “Good as Hell.” It’s easy to hear Lizzo’s gospel influence in the size of her voice, but it was hip-hop legends like Missy Elliot that inspired some serious swagger in this rising artist. Add in lyrics that touch on the personal and political, a raucous live band and multiply that by rock-star-level ability to command the audience, and you get the perfect equation for an entertaining and thoroughly legit stage act.
Canadian DJ Skratch Bastid blew up on the international scene with his first Scribble Jam win in 2003, a title he took again in 2004 and 2007. Known for his flair and technical skill, Skratch Bastid turned heads again in 2008 for his producing chops, becoming the first DJ to be nominated for the Juno Award for Producer of the Year. True to his craft, he puts in overtime, clocking around 150 shows a year at venues around the world. Blending virtuosic turntable technique with a crate-digging knack for music and beats that make people move, this is one live show you won’t want to miss.
Powerful, melodic and soulful, Xavier Omär is a southern R&B artist with all the flair and swagger of a venerable super star from the 60s, and a decided knowledge of the future. At every venue, Xavier makes the stage his home, dancing and preening in time with the horns and drums backing him up. Born into the church tradition, he draws on a rich history of choir singing and church band chops, and takes the form further with a voice that goes from velvet soft to shaking the whole room. All you need to do is show up.
Four Color Zack
Heralded as the DJ’s DJ, Four Color Zack is the guy that world-famous DJs and producers like A-Trak get psyched on. Equally adept at technical throw-downs and high-intensity party rocking sets, like a true DJ he can do it all. In between taking home awards like the 2012 Red Bull Thre3style world title, he’s even tackling producing, collaborating with MC’s including MOP and Mad Lion. For heads that want the best of old school turntabilism skill with the latest head-bobbing tracks and the footloose fun of a block party, mark this evening with a big fat X.
The Hood Internet made their name mashing up artists like Little Wayne and Modest Mouse. ShowYouSuck raps about pizza and pop starts. Put them together and you get Air Credits, a bona fide power group from the rising hip hop hotbed of Chicago. Their first album, “Broadcasted” is based around the concept of a dystopian future, but the beats are so sly and well-crafted you’d be forgiven for mishearing the lyrics about desertification and apocalypse. With such dedicated music heads bumping the tracks, this will be one complex and engaging live show. Buckle up and lean in.
Gauzy beats, cooing harmonies and layered instrumentation make the Oyster Kids’ initial debut singles breeze to listen to. But for a band out of hyper-cool Los Angeles, this duo is keeping their presence on ground level. The bands’ debut tracks, “Creepy” and “Lips” blew up on Soundcloud – and that was before they set out on tour with This Wild Life. With a confident and bubbly melody similar to Foster the People, and lyrics that lamp the looming social pressures of LA, this is one live act that’s sure to satisfy.
From breakbeats to soul hits, DJ Cre8 has the vinyl stack and skills to entertain any crowd. With over ten years dedicated to the turntables, this DJ from Burlington, Vermont (Burton’s hometown) has rocked venues of all sizes, from intimate private crowds to opening for international acts like Z Trip and Macklemore. His resident nights at Vermont nightclub staples like Red Square and Nectar’s always draw a crowd, which is part of the allure that’s made him a U•S•Open musical staple for the past few years. Do yourself a favor and check out his act this year. Just make sure to wear your dancing shoes.
DJ Naka G
DJ Naka G has been working the 1’s and 2’s since 1995, and his ability to work the crowd and elevate the night has landed him in too many epic venues to list. The highlight reel would include spinning at the Winter X Games, the Burton U•S•Open Snowboarding Championships, the Winter Olympics, not to mention opening for acts like The Roots, Steel Pulse, and Method Man. DJ Naka G doesn’t hit the stage with a set list. A master of all genres, he shows up with a deep assortment of beats and builds the dance floor into a frenzy.