It's been five years since Athens' shapeshifting experimental pop/rock band of Montreal played the Savannah Stopover Music Festival, and now they are set to return.

Gearing up for its eighth year, the annual indie festival has announced the first wave of bands, about half of the anticipated lineup of 80 or so acts. The Kevin Barnes-led of Montreal will headline the 2018 festival with a marquee Saturday show at Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum.

The three-day festival is set for March 8 to 10 and takes place in various locations in Savannah's Historic District. As the Stopover crew continues to hash out next year's lineup, which still has several open slots, the of Montreal show is the only scheduled one in this release.

"[of Montreal] reached out to us actually, early on," Stopover founder and CEO Kayne Lanahan said. "They came back to us and said it will have been five years, let's do it."

The annual March festival was designed as a stopover for bands en route to South By Southwest. Each year Stopover focuses on building a lineup that mixes up-and-comers with staples from every genre, furthering its mission to introduce you to your next favorite band. Over the years, several Stopover alums have catapulted into a national spotlight shortly after playing the festival.

Lanahan's sharp ear has brought to the Hostess City acts from St. Paul and the Broken Bones - who went on to become one of David Letterman's favorite bands after a Stopover appearance - to the likes of The War on Drugs, Future Islands, Mac DeMarco, Julien Baker and former of Montreal member Kishi Bashi.

Within the first wave of bands announced is the festival's usual wide gamut of genres and styles, ranging from electronic to gospel. Indie-rock and indie-pop bands have heavy representation, with a bit more punk and garage rock than previous installments.

FIRST WAVE NOTABLES

Gus Dapperton: This 20-year-old, fashion-forward, gender-bending swooner writes synthy indie-pop jams, drawing influence from smooth '80s and '90s sounds, painted with a maturity youngsters typically don't possess.

Pylon Reenactment Society: Fans of Athens-based Pylon can enjoy a revival of the band's new wave, post-punk sound. Pylon singer Vanessa Briscoe Hay formed the Reenactment Society, a tribute to the original band, about three years ago with an all-Athens lineup of musicians.

Public Access T.V.: The New York City-based power pop/rock band has been making noise in recent years behind a fun, rousing rock sound, reminiscent of the late '70s post-punk underground/college rock scene. They caught the attention of Sony Records, which released their debut studio album "Never Enough" last year. They've played in support of legendary acts like Weezer, The Pixies, The Killers, Gang of Four and Dinosaur Jr.

Lola Marsh: Out of Tel Aviv, Israel, the dreamy indie-pop duo released a new EP with Universal Records in 2016. Poised for an American breakout, this is an international act not to be missed. They released the cathartic and sentient "Remember Roses" this year.

Wild Child: In 2014, the Austin, Texas-based indie-pop act played Savannah Stopover and promptly fell for the city. They returned to Savannah later that year to record their third album, "Fools," with Dollhouse Studios producer and owner Peter Mavrogeorgis. They later signed to Dualtone Records and have garnered praise from NPR and Paste Magazine. They are set to release their fourth album, "Expectations," in early 2018.

The War and Treaty: The husband-and-wife duo was the first act to be signed by Lanahan. Comprised of an Army veteran who discovered a passion for music while serving in Iraq and a soul singer influenced by Mahalia Jackson and Dolly Parton, The War and Treaty's big gospel/soul roots infused sound will shake things up. On the verge of a national breakout, they've earned praise from multiple media outlets, including Rolling Stone.

Other first wave notables include Okey Dokey out of Nashville, Vundabar from Boston, Nashville country/soul artist Sam Lewis, Atlanta's Illegal Drugs and Ratboys from Chicago.

COMING BACK FOR MORE

Each year, Lanahan focuses on bringing new acts to Savannah, but also leaves about 15 percent of the schedule open for festival alums. Seven of the announced bands are returners, with several more vying for the rest of the open slots. There are a handful of acts who have played Savannah outside of the festival as well - both The Nude Party and Illegal Drugs played El-Rocko Lounge at different times earlier this year.

SECOND WAVE TO COME

About 40 more acts will be confirmed closer to the festival dates, including 10 Savannah bands. The full schedule with venues and times will be released early next year.

For 2017, Lanahan attempted a new model for the annual festival, reducing the overall number of acts from the usual 100-plus to just about 80. The model worked, in that the three-day music gauntlet seemed more manageable for patrons.

"It just makes more sense. If I am getting overwhelmed, I am sure the average person is, too," Lanahan said. "It's funny, that 20 to 25 bands makes a huge difference. That's the hardest part. I am so bad at telling bands no. They're all good and want to play."

GET TICKETS

See the full Savannah Stopover lineup and get tickets at savannahstopover.com.

FIRST WAVE LINEUP

Acid Dad, New York City

Bat Fangs, Washington, D.C.

The Bones of JR Jones, New York City

Cape Francis, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Charles Fauna, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Combo Chimbita, New York City

Crumb, New York City

David Barbe & Inward Dream Ebb, Athens

Escondido, Nashville, Tenn.

FRIGS, Toronto, Calif.

Grandchildren, Philadelphia

Gus Dapperton, Warwick, N.Y.

Honduras, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Illegal Drugs, Atlanta

Jon Stickley Trio, Asheville, N.C.

KOLARS, Los Angeles

Larkin Poe, Atlanta

Liz Cooper & The Stampede, Nashville, Tenn.

Lola Marsh, Tel Aviv, Israel

Michael Nau (Cotton Jones), Cumberland, Md.

The Nude Party, Livingston Manor, N.Y.

of Montreal, Athens

Okey Dokey, Nashville, Tenn.

Plastic Picnic, Brooklyn, N.Y.

pronoun, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Public Access T.V., New York City

Pylon Reenactment Society, Athens

Ratboys, Chicago

Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics, Atlanta

Sam Lewis, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Shopping, London, U.K.

The Sh-Booms, Orlando, Fla.

SLEEPWALKERS, Richmond, Va.

The Trongone Band, Richmond, Va.

The Vegabonds, Nashville, Tenn.

Vundabar, Boston

The War and Treaty, Albion, Mich.

Wild Child, Austin, Texas

Zuli, New York City