For the last five years, local music festival Fuzzstival has been bringing Boston’s best psych and rock acts to the forefront. Though it was started to specifically highlight those genres, it’s begun to look outward to become more inclusive, the result of which is a multiday festival that reminds residents just how stacked our music scene really is. Now, as the festival prepares to throw its sixth edition, it’s more diverse than ever.
This year’s lineup spans three days (this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday), two venues (Lilypad Cambridge and ONCE Somerville), and welcomes all ages. Attendees can spend roughly $15 a night—or $31 for a three-day pass—to see fan favorites as well as relatively new bands. The whole thing is thrown together by Illegally Blind, the booking company of Jason Trefts. Both he and his larger booking moniker are too humble to take the credit for much of the work, though it should be noted: Putting this whole event together takes a lot of time, effort, and patience—especially six years in a row.
To help you optimize the schedule, here are the cherry-picked names of who we think you definitely should see, from the fresh faces early in the day to surprise guests later on.
THURSDAY, SEPT 27
THE PIPSQUEAK PICK: Ash & Herb. May as well start the festival off with some true wobbly psych. The duo of Matt Lajoie and his “sister anubis” Ash get lost in the heady waves of meditative drone and experimental folk, the type of music you could grow a third eye listening to. It’s all about letting the waves wash over you. And if you show up a bit before them, you can even catch some of Damien Scalise, who you may know as the guitarist from IAN SWEET and Sun Young.
THE GOOD GRAB: Bad History Month. A lot has been said about Bad History Month in DigBoston, and all of it is good. We’re not biased, either; it’s just the truth. Though the solo project of so-called Sean Bean roots itself in glum anti-folk, Bad History Month took a turn toward the sunlight on his most recent album, 2017’s Dead And Loving It: An Introductory Exploration Of Pessimysticism. While it may seem strange that such a quiet and emotionally harsh act would be on the festival lineup, allow yourself to get lost in the overwhelming storytelling skills of Bean and suddenly Bad History Month’s placement will make total sense.
THE DINE AND DON’T DASH: Wendy Eisenberg. Your hungry tummy can wait for dinner, especially when someone like Eisenberg is giving you so much to feast on musically. Perhaps best known for her work in the now-defunct abstract post-punk band Birthing Hips, Eisenberg’s solo work hypnotizes listeners through the ease with which she twiddles through complex parts. Whether she’s armed with an electric guitar or a worn-down banjo, Eisenberg is fascinating to see perform live because watching her master the instrument—casually playing bizarre chord progressions or reimagining jazz tricks—feels like you’re witnessing an iconic virtuoso before the rest of the world catches on.
THE LATE-NIGHT ALLURE: Lisa/Liza. Technically hailing from Portland, Maine, she plays Boston frequently enough to be an honorary local. While you may be getting tired as the end of the night nears, know that you’re in for a treat with Lisa/Liza, a folk artist whose gentle whisperings and cooing guitar is the perfect lullaby for the night. Her music sounds like if Jessica Pratt teamed up with Brittle Brian and Julie Byrne, then made those comfortably brisk fall evenings stretch on for an extra couple of hours.
FRIDAY, SEPT 28
THE PIPSQUEAK PICK: HAIRSPRAY QUEEN. The all-caps name sounds airier than the band’s actual music. The punk act is driving up from their hometown of Providence to play the gig, and we expect it to start things off with a huge punch of energy. Don’t believe us? Listen to the band’s blistering live record, aptly titled Live, and then imagine what it will be like shaking your anger off to its set first thing in the afternoon.
THE GOOD GRAB: Leopard Print Taser. This poppy indie punk act brings a jolt of positivity to its live shows thanks to strong hooks and solid guitar work. Chances are you’ve seen it opening a national act’s bill of late, as the band has been setting aside plenty of time to pay its dues onstage this year. Though it shouldn’t have been a total surprise that the band would play the festival, it felt like one nonetheless because the group deserves more attention than it’s been getting. On a day of standout frontmen and frontwomen, tonight’s show will find it’s hard to top the type of all-in, guttural, commanding presence that Leopard Print Taser’s singer has.
THE DINE AND DON’T DASH: Corridor. Before you dip out to grab a sit-down dinner, remember you may be missing Corridor. Good luck seeing them again, as the fellows in that group hail from Montreal and don’t get over here too often. Their brand of crisp jangle pop slides through your ears smoothly, all polished guitar tones and interweaving notes, and leaves you feeling full of good vibes and good spirits. So bring some food to snack on during their set instead of missing it.
THE LATE-NIGHT ALLURE: The Monsieurs. It’s been a hell of a year for the Monsieurs, and you better see them before it comes to an end. Though the garage punk act has been slaying for years here, it recently played the biggest stage of all, Fenway Park, opening up for the Foo Fighters. Expect nothing less than the usual from the band, aka tons of charisma, aggressive melodies, and the spirit of rock ’n’ roll past.
SATURDAY, SEPT 29
THE PIPSQUEAK PICK: Edge Petal Burn. Equal parts gruff punk edge and intricate Korean folk singing, the music of Edge Petal Burn is a beautiful combination of sounds we wish we heard more in music. Olivia West, the vocalist and primary songwriter of the band, has a tight grip on how to control songs about assault, past struggles, and other tough-to-stomach subjects without diving too deep into trauma.
THE GOOD GRAB: Oompa. It’s hard to miss Oompa these days, as the rapper is playing nearly every showcase in sight—and for good reason. Her work in Boston’s hip-hop scene isn’t just influential for the here and now, but for all the other female, queer, black, and local rappers who will want to find their footing in Boston at a time when the rap scene isn’t always supported the way it should be. Though it’s surprising to see a hip-hop act on a psych fest bill, Oompa absolutely deserves the spot. Chances are she will get every single person in the room singing along to her songs, even if they’ve never heard one before.
THE DINE AND DON’T DASH: Mr. Airplane Man. As far as forgotten Boston bands go, Mr. Airplane Man are perhaps one of the biggest victims… and the best to break free from their past. As a successful garage rock duo, Margaret Garrett and Tara McManus kicked around in their heyday of the early 2000s, eventually opening up for artists like the White Stripes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Today, they’re back in the saddle, performing behind a great new record with just as much blues-ridden talent as they had nearly two decades ago. Get roped into their set and grab a meal quickly right after.
THE LATE-NIGHT ALLURE: What Cheer? Brigade. Whatever inkling of sleepiness you have will be blasted out the window by the sweet sound of trumpets, trombones, and tubas. Though the band may seem like your usual type of brass marching band—however “usual” those may be—what What Cheer? Brigade brings to the table is a contagious urgency, making you feel not just happiness, as brass bands usually do, but passion and determination. No matter what you go into their set expecting, we guarantee the band will exceed your expectations. Be there in person to understand what we mean.
FUZZSTIVAL 2018. 9.27–9.29. LILYPAD INMAN AND ONCE SOMERVILLE. 6PM. ALL AGES. $12-$31. FUZZSTIVAL20183DAY.BPT.ME