Savannah Stopover Music Festival announced the first wave of bands to play its ninth iteration, set for March 7-9.
The legendary Deerhunter was announced as next year’s headliner last week. Over 30 additional bands have now been confirmed for next year. England’s Joy Formidable, Charleston’s Susto, Virginia’s Lucy Dacus and Washington, D.C.’s Priests top the festival’s banner.
The three-day indie music festival, set the weekend before South By Southwest each year, was originally designed to be a stopover for touring bands en route to the infamous Austin festival. Stopover, however, has emerged as its own formidable festival that equally courts to music nerds and neophytes by staging established acts alongside up-and-coming indie-pop, rock, punk, post-punk, Americana, folk, alt-country and hip-hop acts.
It’s also the perfect opportunity to "find your new favorite band," as their marketing once correctly touted. The majority of acts playing are typically on the edge of breaking into a larger, national/global audience. Such was the case for Stopover alums like St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Hiss Golden Messenger, Julien Baker and Susto.
Over the years, Stopover has drawn heavily from small and medium independent labels, with a sprinkling of major label acts. For the nerds, established indie labels act as a bellwether for finding new music.
In the first wave of bands, signees from prominent indie labels Merge Records, Don Giovanni, New West Records, Ramseur Records, Kanine Records, Matador Records and Spacebomb will be represented, as well as signees from major label Sony Records.
Last year, Stopover celebrated New West Records' 20th anniversary with a special showcase, following a trend of having at least one label showcase each year. For its ninth year, Stopover will have a special Kanine Records showcase as they welcome to the fest three new acts on the label: Honey Lung, Living Hour and Tallies. Stopover has hosted 11 bands from the label over the years.
Stopover will announce the second wave in January with a target of 75 to 80 total bands. Along with the additional announcement of the rest of the acts in January, Stopover will confirm dates and times for the shows, as well as venues.
Two of the bands announced on Monday are returning to the fest, Lucy Dacus and Susto. Both have pushed into a broader national spotlight since playing the 2016 festival. Each will have new albums coming in the new year.
A number of other acts will also be touring on new albums. There are eight international acts in the first wave, from New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada, following Stopover’s trend of including a number of international touring acts each year. The UK’s Shopping was a major highlight of the 2018 festival.
Joy Formidable, who Savannah’s CUSSES recently toured with, requested to play the festival. The English rock band, whose members now live in the U.S., has released albums on major hitters like Atlantic Records and Warner Music Group, and toured briefly with the Foo Fighters. Their latest album, “AAARTH,” dropped in September to decent reviews.
Dacus recently teamed up with singer/songwriter and Stopover alum Julien Baker and indie-folk songwriter Phoebe Bridgers for a highly touted EP under the Boy Genius moniker. Dacus released her latest album, “Historian,” on Matador Records in March of this year.
Other notables in the first wave include the Ruen Brothers, whose debut album was produced by the legendary Rick Rubin with Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on drums and Lana Del Ray guesting on guitar.
Alt-country act Savannah Conley’s new album was handled by Dave Cobb, who has worked with Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton. Conley was named to Rolling Stones' Top 10 New Country Artists You Need To Know list. Weakened Friends had a guest appearance on their debut album, released on Don Giovanni, from low-key shredder and rock giant J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.
Washington, D.C., post-punk outfit Priests garnered national attention last year from all the important outlets, grabbing a Best New Music nod from Pitchfork for their album, “Nothing Feels Natural.” Members of Priests were also, strangely, caught up in Pizzagate last year. Flasher, another D.C. post-punk band with members of Priests, recently played Savannah as well.
Festival passes are now on sale at savannahstopover.com/tickets and range from $40 to $160. Early bird tickets have already sold out.
Local bands looking to get a spot on next year’s roster can apply at savannahstopover.com. The final deadline for local band submissions is Jan. 7.
Here’s a breakdown of the first wave of bands:
Deerhunter | Atlanta | 4AD
The Joy Formidable | London, UK | C’mon Let’s Drift
Lucy Dacus | Richmond, Va. | Matador Records
The Bright Light Social Hour | Austin, Texas | Modern Outsider
Andrew Combs | Dallas/Nashville | New West Records
Susto | Charleston | Rounder Records
The Beths | Auckland, New Zealand | Carpark Records
Bad Bad Hats | Minneapolis | Afternoon Records
Ruen Brothers | Brooklyn/Scunthrope, England | Ramseur Records
Hot Flash Heat Wave | Oakland, Calf. | Unsigned
Mike Krol | Los Angeles | Merge Records
INK | Atlanta | Unsigned
Priests | Washington, D.C. | Don Giovanni
Paul Cherry | Chicago | Feeltrip Records
Sneaks | Baltimore | Merge Records
Weakened Friends | Portland, Maine | Don Giovanni
Sleepwalkers | Richmond, Va. | Spacebomb
Vacations | Newcastle, Australia | No-Fi Records
Savannah Conley | Nashville | Elektra
SONTALK | Tennessee | Sony Records
Honey Lung | London | Kanine Records
Dead Soft | Vancouver | Arts & Crafts
Lunar Vacation | Atlanta | House Cat Records
Living Hour | Winnipeg, Canada | Kanine Records
The Underhill Family Orchestra | Mobile, Ala. | Skate Mountain Records
Tallies | Toronto | Kanine records
Billy Moon | Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | Old Flame Records
Michigan Rattlers | Pekosky, Mich. | Unsigned
The Artisanals | Charleston | Unsigned
The Minks | Nashville | Unsigned
Teddy and the Rough Riders | Nashville | Unsigned