The sixth annual Sweetlife Festival returns to Maryland’s Merriweather Post Pavilion for its sixth year with a two-day event taking place on May 30-31. The lineup may be small, but it’s pretty fantastic, boasting headliners like Kendrick Lamar, the Pixies, Calvin Harris, and Billy Idol. Read on for a detailed look at the full Sweetlife Festival 2015 lineup.
Want to read more about upcoming music festivals? Check out our 2015 Music Festivals Guide!
Saturday, May 30
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, better known as Kendrick Lamar, is a rapper and songwriter from Compton, California. He rose to popularity in 2010 with the release of his mixtape “Overly Dedicated,” and the following year his album “Section 80,” which he released exclusively through iTunes, ranked as one of the best digital hip hop releases of the year. His major-label debut “good kid, m.A.A.d city” debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the RIAA. He received seven Grammy nominations in 2014, including Best New Artist, Album of the Year, and Best Rap Song.
After a decade-long hiatus, one of the most influential bands of the 20th century, the Pixies, are back in full swing, once again gracing the music world with their presence. Formed in Boston in 1986, the Pixies’ classic lineup featured vocalist/guitarist Black Francis, bassist/vocalist Kim Deal, guitarist Joey Santiago, and drummer David Lovering. Having influenced some of the biggest acts in music, including Nirvana, Radiohead, and The Strokes, they have left an everlasting imprint on the music industry. They have received critical acclaim galore for their music, which somehow perfectly blends harsh, aggressive vocals and abrasive guitars with catchy melodies and hooks. They have been praised left and right for each of their spectacular albums, especially their 1988 debut “Surfer Rosa” and its 1989 follow-up “Doolittle.” The Pixies popularity spiked again in 1999 when their song “Where Is My Mind?” played during the iconic end scene of the David Fincher film “Fight Club.” Although original bassist Kim Deal left the band in 2013, and her absence is definitely felt (the Deal-fronted Pixies classic “Gigantic” has been notably absent from recent setlists), the rest of the classic lineup remains intact. The Pixies released the album “Indie Cindy” in 2014, their first new record since 1991’s “Trompe Le Monde.”
British rocker Billy Idol was one of the first stars to achieve fame through the American television network MTV in the early 1980s. Having launched his career as a member of punk rock outfit Generation X in the late ’70s, Idol made a move to go solo in 1981, relocating to New York City and releasing his self-titled debut album a year later. He soon became an MTV fixture as part of the Second British Invasion, along with artists like Duran Duran and Culture Club. Idol’s second album, “Rebel Yell,” came out in 1983 and was even more successful than his first. Since then, he has released a number of successful records, with his most recent, “Kings & Queens of the Underground,” appearing in 2014. Along with the new album, Billy Idol also recently released his autobiography, titled “Dancing With Myself,” in October.
NYC indie pop outfit Bleachers was formed by Jack Antonoff, the guitarist for the popular rock band Fun. Bleachers’ debut album was released in 2014, and its lead single, the catchy and anthemic “I Wanna Get Better,” quickly rose to the top of the Billboard Alternative charts. Bleachers’ sound has an obvious ’80s influence, but the band combines modern production techniques with that to make music that’s fresh and interesting.
Sweden’s Tove Lo gained attention in 2013 when her breakthrough electropop single “Habits” reached number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song became even more popular and saw more international exposure when it was remixed by American production duo Hippie Sabotage. Her rapid success later earned her a spot opening for Katy Perry on her Prismatic World Tour. In September 2014 she released her debut album “Queen of the Clouds,” which is her first full-length record.
Lucius is an indie quintet from Brooklyn fronted by classically-trained singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, whose dual vocals provide sharp, symmetrical harmonies that come together to sound like a singular voice. In addition to Wolfe and Laessig, the band consists of drummer Dan Molad, guitarist Peter Lalish, and guitarist/drummer Andrew Burri. They released their latest album, “Wildewoman,” in 2013 via indie label Mom + Pop, and earned critical praise galore from the likes of Rolling Stone, TIME, NPR, The New York Times, and more.
Singer-songwriter Allen Stone takes his influence from classic R&B and soul of the 1960s and 1970s. He has self-released two albums so far, “Last to Speak” in 2010 and a self-titled effort in 2011. His eponymous record earned tremendous success, particularly through internet sales, and it earned a place on the Billboard Heatseekers chart without the help of any label. Soon, Stone was playing bigger shows and making appearances on late night television, earning him a deal with ATO Records, who reissued his self-titled album in 2012. Currently, Stone is signed to Capitol Records and will release his third album on May 26.
St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Birmingham, Alabama’s St. Paul and the Broken Bones formed in 2011. They quickly built up a following with their dynamic live shows and impressive stage presence. The band consists of vocalist Paul Janeway, guitarist Browan Lollar, percussionist Andrew Lee, bassist Jesse Phillips, trumpeter Allen Branstetter, and trombone/tuba player Ben Griner. They released their debut album, “Half the City,” in 2014.
SZA is the stage name of alternative R&B artist Solana Rowe. In 2012, she self-released an EP titled “See.SZA.Run,” which she followed with the release of her second EP “S.” Since then, she has signed with the indie label Top Dawg Entertainment and released her third EP “Z” in 2014. Her most recent album includes collaborations with Chance the Rapper, Isaiah Rashad, and Kendrick Lamar.
MisterWives is an indie pop band based in New York City. They have garnered a lot of buzz lately, and have opened for acts like Twenty One Pilots, Bleachers, and American Authors. They released their debut EP, “Reflections,” in 2014 on the New York indie label Photo Finish Records.
Sinkane is the stage name of musician Ahmed Gallab. His heavily percussive music draws on an eclectic mix of genres, including jazz, funk, and shoegaze. Gallab began his career as a session musician, working with artists like Caribou, Yeasayer, and Of Montreal. His solo debut came in 2007 with an album called “Sinisterals.” Sinkane’s latest record, “Mean Love,” dropped in 2014.
Life of Dillon
London-based trio Life of Dillon describe their music as “acoustic house,” which strangely enough is rather fitting. The band consists of brothers Joe and Robert Griffith along with David Keiffer, who officially came together as Life of Dillon in 2014. Thus far, the band has released just one single, called “Overload.”
The Bots is the duo of Los Angeles-based brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei. The Lei brothers formed The Bots in 2006 with Mikaiah on vocals, guitar, and bass, and Anaiah on percussion and vocals. They impressively recorded their first album when they were just 15 and 12 years old, respectively. The Bots released two more albums after that, and went on to play shows with the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Blur, and Refused. They soon signed to Fader and released an EP in 2013, followed by a proper full-length titled “Pink Palms” in 2014.
The Walking Sticks
The Walking Sticks is a dream-pop trio from Washington, D.C. The group consists of twins Max and Spencer Ernst on instrumentals along with vocalist Chelsea Lee. Having played at some of D.C.’s best venues like the 9:30 Club and Black Cat, The Walking Sticks are ready to take their dreamy and ethereal sound out of the nation’s capital and bring it to larger audiences.
Sunday, May 31
Calvin Harris released his debut album in 2007, and shortly afterward embarked on a meteoric rise to international fame. Within a few years, he was churning out top 10 singles and writing and producing for popular artists like Rihanna, Kylie Minogue, and Rita Ora. In the last few years, he has won a Grammy Award and surpassed Michael Jackson’s record for the most U.K. top 10 hits from a single album. With so many amazing accomplishments, Calvin Harris is without a doubt one of the biggest producers in the world right now.
The Weeknd is the stage name of Canadian alternative R&B musician Abel Tesfaye. He surfaced in 2011 with his nine-track mixtape “House of Balloons,” and he was soon championed by superstar rapper Drake, which increased his popularity tremendously. His series of mixtapes were received favorably by critics and his debut album “Kiss Land” arrived in 2013. In the few years that he’s been in the spotlight, The Weeknd has collaborated with such big-name artists as Drake, Ariana Grande, and Wiz Khalifa.
Banks (born Jillian Banks) began writing songs when she was a teenager growing up in California. After a few years of making music just for herself, she uploaded her song “Before I Ever Met You” on SoundCloud in 2013. Soon she found herself with a record deal, and quickly went from an unknown LA songstress to an international music star. Banks released her dark and moody full-length debut titled “Goddess” last September.
Charlotte Aitchison, a.k.a. Charli XCX, first gained attention in 2012 when she was featured on Icona Pop’s breakthrough single “I Love It,” which she also co-wrote. Two years later, she emerged as an outright pop superstar after being featured on Iggy Azalea’s #1 hit song “Fancy.” Her album “Sucker” arrived at the end of that year, and was designated the best pop album of 2014 by Rolling Stone. Now that Charli has just ended a touring run with Katy Perry as the opening act for the European leg of her Prismatic World Tour, she’s ready to embark on the festival circuit this summer.
Phantogram is an electronic rock duo consisting of vocalist/guitarist Josh Carter and vocalist/keyboardist Sarah Barthel. The duo formed in 2007 in Greenwich, New York and began releasing music two years later. They have collaborated with Outkast’s Big Boi on three songs from his second studio album, and are featured in the Flaming Lips’ song “You Lust” from their 2013 album “The Terror.” Phantogram has achieved success with their own music as well, and their 2014 album “Voices” was met with much critical acclaim.
Marina & The Diamonds
Though it sounds like a band, Marina and the Diamonds is really just Marina Diamandis. She came onto the scene in 2009 with her debut single “Obsessions,” which earned her popularity in the U.K. As a rising talent, Diamandis was quick to dismiss comparisons between herself and other emerging British female artists at the time, wanting to be recognized as an individual rather than being grouped together with other singers she felt she had nothing in common with musically. The last few years have seen her release three successful albums, the latest of which just dropped last month.
Australian singer/songwriter Vance Joy used to play at open mic nights in Melbourne while working on completing a law degree. He ultimately decided to abandon the legal profession and wholeheartedly pursue a music career. His debut single “Riptide” was an immediate hit in Australia and led him to sign a multi-album deal with Atlantic Records. “Riptide” eventually became an international smash hit played in heavy rotation on radio stations all over the world, pushing him further into the limelight. Vance Joy released his debut studio album, “Dream Your Life Away,” in 2014.
Formerly a member of the hip hop group Kids These Days, Chicago-based rapper Vic Mensa made his solo debut in 2013 on Chance the Rapper’s mixtape Acid Rap. In that same year, he released his own mixtape called “Innanetape.” The success of “Innanetape” led to a growing fan base and critical praise, and also brought him the opportunity to tour with J. Cole and Wale a year later.
Raury is a 17-year-old singer/songwriter from Atlanta. Mature beyond his years, Raury began writing songs as early as age three, taught himself to play guitar when he was 11, and started work on a self-produced album when he was 15. The young, up-and-coming artist released his debut, “Indigo Child,” in the summer of 2014, earning accolades from tastemaking sites like Stereogum and Pitchfork. He was recently featured on SBTRKT’s latest album on the track “Higher.”
San Fermin is the brainchild of Brooklyn-based composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone. After graduating from Yale, where he studied music composition, Ludwig-Leone decided to focus his efforts on this project and wrote what became the band’s eponymous debut album released in 2013. San Fermin’s music is filled with Baroque pop flair and avant-garde arrangements that showcase Ludwing-Leone’s skill as a composer.
Brooklyn-based indie trio Wet consists of singer Kelly Zutrau, guitarist Marty Sulkow, and drummer Joe Valle. Having met while all three were attending college in New York City, they officially formed Wet in 2012. They released their four-song debut EP a year later on Neon Gold Records, after which they performed at CMJ and went on to tour with CHVRCHES.
Enigmatic young rapper GoldLink has been stirring up a lot of buzz lately, with mentions from Pitchfork, VICE, Billboard, and others tastemakers. Last year, he released his debut, “The God Complex,” earning positive reviews. His latest release is a collaborative single with Kaytranada called “Sober Thoughts.”
Baltimore-based band Sun Club is made up of five members who call themselves Big Snack, D-Mac, Special K, Petunia, and Triscuit. They’ve been getting a lot of attention in the Baltimore area for their eclectic, feel-good music served with plenty of energy and a twinge of eccentric humor. Last year, the band released an EP called “Dad Claps at the Mom Prom,” and toured with bands like Los Campesinos, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Yuck.
HOLYCHILD is an experimental pop duo from Los Angeles. The group is composed of Liz Nistico and Louie Diller, who met in 2010 and began making music together. Holychild was a buzzworthy act in last year, ending up on both Billboard and LA Weekly’s lists of bands to watch in 2014. They signed with Glassnote Records and released their EP, “Mindspeak,” last March, and they are expected to release their debut full-length album later this year.
Bishop Nehru is the stage name of American rapper Markel Scott. The young talent has been incredibly successful yet quite busy lately, having earned critical acclaim for recent releases, touring with Wu-Tang Clan, and collaborating with Disclosure. Last year, he was among the first few artists to sign with Nas’ Mass Appeal Records.
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