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Singer/songwriter Andrew McMahon performs onstage during day 3 of the Firefly Music Festival on June 20, 2015 in Dover, Delaware. | Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Firefly

Music festival MVPs: The non-headlining band names you need to know

SHARE Music festival MVPs: The non-headlining band names you need to know
SHARE Music festival MVPs: The non-headlining band names you need to know

Forget a summer vacation. For some performers and bands, summer music festival season is the busiest stretch of their year.

While many artists, from jam bands to EDM DJs, make a living touring year-round, others take a break from playing clubs and theaters for the summer, signing onto North America’s largest summer music festivals. The summer’s busiest big-name acts include Alt-J, with a whopping 28 festivals on their schedule in between dates on their world tour, while Solange is dedicating her entire summer to the festival circuit — her name appearing on 19 more lineups through the end of September.

But it’s not all about the headliners. In the hours before big names like Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar deliver their festival-closing sets, smaller names play those same stages, getting their music in front of many fans who’ve never heard them before.

“Festivals have become a huge conduit through which fans are used to experiencing live music,” said Pitchfork president Chris Kaskie, ahead of the publication’s two festivals in Chicago and Paris. “Because of that, artists have a much wider array of festivals to perform at and audiences to attract. It doesn’t matter how big the act is even, a festival can introduce an artist to a new fanbase in an extremely natural way, and when combined with building a career surrounding their art, it’s a pretty cool proposition.”

If you’re attending a major music festival in North America this summer, you’ll likely see one of these MVPs on this list, a roundup of the standout groups populating the smaller print of this summer’s many crowded lineups. They’re names you should know, even if you don’t make it to a show.

Angel Olsen | AMANDA MARSALLIS PHOTO

Angel Olsen | AMANDA MARSALLIS PHOTO

Angel Olsen

Schedule: Pitchfork, Capitol Hill Block Party, FYF, XPoNential Music Fest, Panorama, Newport, Osheaga, Hopscotch, Lincoln Calling, Austin City Limits

The singer-songwriter is playing far-flung festivals through the end of September, landing towards the top of lineups like Pitchfork. She’s also an outstanding live performer whose 2016 release My Woman was one of 2016’s best albums.

Vince Staples

Schedule: Electric Forest, Forecastle, Pitchfork, Sloss Music and Arts, Panorama, Bumbershoot, Life Is Beautiful

Like Olsen, the Long Beach rapper is also nearing headlining status, and for good reason — he’s one of rap’s best live acts, largely thanks to his scathing onstage commentary. He visits a long list of U.S. and international festivals this summer promoting his new album Big Fish Theory, out June 23.

Musicians Zack Feinberg (left) and David Shaw of The Revivalists perform on May 20, 2017, in Carson, California. | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Musicians Zack Feinberg (left) and David Shaw of The Revivalists perform on May 20, 2017, in Carson, California. | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The Revivalists

Schedule: Mountain Jam, Electric Forest, Arroyo Seco Weekend, Summerfest, Levitate Music Festival, Karoondinha, Life

is Beautiful, Austin City Limits

The dynamic New Orleans rockers are among the summer’s hardest-working bands, performing at a string of bluegrass festivals in addition to larger stages like Summerfest.

Instrumentalist Mura Masa performs at Tribeca Games Festival on April 28, 2017, in New York City. | Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Instrumentalist Mura Masa performs at Tribeca Games Festival on April 28, 2017, in New York City. | Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Mura Masa

Schedule: FYF, The Capitol Hill Block Party, Panorama, WayHome, Lollapalooza, Life is Beautiful

Of all the DJs filling out summer music festival lineups this summer, Mura Masa’s wildly enjoyable dance music is worth venturing into the EDM tent — or showing up to an early set time — to see.

Kamaiyah

Schedule: Pitchfork, The Meadows, Outside Lands, FYF

The only female rapper to earn spot among XXL’s Freshman Class this month, the Bay Area MC has a busy festival season ahead. See her before she blows up.

MUNA

Schedule: Firefly, NXNE, Mamby On The Beach, Summerfest, Osheaga, Outside Lands, Austin City Limits

With their busy summer schedule bookended by tours with Bleachers and Harry Styles, the synth-pop trio are worth celebrating; three women who handle all their own production and openly address their sexual identities and progressive views in their music.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

Schedule: Summerfest, Panorama, Lollapalooza, The End Summer Camp, High and Low Festival, Austin City Limits

Fans of Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin have plenty to love in frontman Andrew McMahon’s new project. If fans can’t make it to one of his many festival dates this summer, he’s also opening a string of shows for Billy Joel.

Cherry Glazerr

Schedule: Pitchfork, FYF, Capitol Hill Block Party, Panorama, Osheaga, Hopscotch

The LA punk band name may be in the small print on festival posters, but their irresistible garage rock makes a strong case for better placement.

Car Seat Headrest

Schedule: Summerfest, Rock the Garden, WayHome, Lollapalooza, Osheaga, Austin City Limits

After his breakout 2016 album Teens of Denial earned him a place among America’s best new rock bands, Will Toledo, the singer/songwriter behind Car Seat Headrest, went from playing daytime slots at last year’s summer music festivals to earning one of 11 headlining slots at Summerfest.

Maeve McDermott, USATODAY

Cherry Glazerr performs onstage during the 2016 Budweiser Made in America Festival on September 3, 2016, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. | Lisa Lake/Getty Images

Cherry Glazerr performs onstage during the 2016 Budweiser Made in America Festival on September 3, 2016, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. | Lisa Lake/Getty Images

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