Best of the bottom: Sound On Sound Music Festival

Jackson Hawkins

With headliners like Beach House, Explosions in the Sky and Young Thug performing at this year’s inaugural Sound On Sound Music Festival, it’s easy to forget there are a host of talented artists on the bottom four lines of the bill. Although you might not be able to catch all of their sets, here are some acts that will make showing up early worth it. 

Diet Cig

  • Friday, Nov. 4
  • 3:20 – 4 p.m.
  • Dragon’s Lair

Alex Luciano met Noah Bowman after she asked him for a cigarette lighter at a small house show. Soon after, they got together and started recording loud and dynamic songs under the name Diet Cig. Although the songs are short in length, each no longer than three minutes, they are full of intensity and unquestionable energy. Luciano’s lyrics focus on the social anxieties that characterize the lives of many young millennials. “Harvard,” the closer to their 2015 EP, Over Easy, focuses on an arrogant, snobbish ex-boyfriend as Luciano sings, “How’s your new Ivy League girlfriend? Is she boring too in the way I couldn’t stand … Fuck your Ivy League sweater. You know I was better.” Although Diet Cig only has seven songs in their discography, they are sure to deliver a passionate and raucous performance on Friday. 

Similar to: Eskimeaux, Girlpool


  • Friday, Nov. 4 
  • 6:05 – 6:50 p.m.
  • The Forest Stage

Daveed Diggs won a 2016 Tony for his role in the critically acclaimed musical “Hamilton,” but he didn’t initially gain fame for his Broadway performances. Daveed first garnered attention for his work with the experimental hip-hop trio clipping., which was founded in 2009. Their most recent release, Splendor & Misery, a hip-hop space opera, is their most daring yet. William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes explore the fringes of palatable hip-hop with their industrial production. But just as he did in “Hamilton,” Diggs steals the spotlight with his tightly wound and rapid-fire delivery. clipping. is a must-see for Broadway and hip-hop fans alike. 

Similar to: Shabazz Palaces, Death Grips

Wild Nothing

  • Saturday, Nov. 5
  • 4:10 – 4:55 p.m.
  • Dragon’s Lair

Life of Pause is a rebirth for Wild Nothing. The band’s third record shows them moving away from their dream-pop roots into a more soulful direction. Lead singer Jack Tatum still shines as one of the best songwriters in indie music, constructing impressionistic and striking lyrics. Instrumentally, the band has begun to incorporate orchestral instrumentation, steamy sax and marimba alongside their iconic wistful and frazzled guitars. Although Wild Nothing borrows from ’80s pop aesthetics, they innovate enough to make their latest project distinctly their own. Their set on Saturday afternoon should be a blissful occasion. 

Similar to: Real Estate, Beach Fossils


  • Sunday, Nov. 6
  • 3:20 – 4:05 p.m.
  • Dragon’s Lair 

On the song “Six,” from Bully’s debut album, Feels Like, lead singer Alicia Bognanno still can’t forgive herself for accidentally breaking her sister’s arm. In the song, she recalls how two years later she broke her own arm, singing, “When I was eight I broke my own arm … And I know it didn’t make us even so I slept on it for one whole night.” Bognanno sings, and sometimes screams, about her adolescence and the process of growing up while commenting on the male gaze and self-doubt throughout the project. The Nashville band packs quite a large punch with their fuzzy guitars, wild drums and raw emotion. The ’90s influence is unquestionable, but with Bognanno’s hooks and instrumentals that will stick in your head for days, Bully seems indisputably relevant.

Similar to: Speedy Ortiz, Pixies

Open Mike Eagle

  • Sunday, Nov 6 
  • 5 – 5:45 p.m.
  • The Forest Stage

Open Mike Eagle is an artist who makes comical insights about uncomfortable truths, as is seen throughout his latest collaboration with producer Paul White: “Hella Personal Film Festival,” where he utilizes humor to talk about issues of race and anxiety. Open Mike Eagle’s creative wordplay and jokes allow him to thrive when talking about possibly confrontational themes. On the song “Smiling (Quirky Race Doc),” he raps about being a black man in America while remaining humorous. In his easygoing tone, he raps, “Nobody smiles at me cause I’m a black man/Until the show starts/Before then, avoided like a ghost fart.” Open Mike Eagle’s playful lyricism and alt-rap aesthetic will make for a stellar show on Sunday. 

Similar to: Milo, Oddisee