This weekend's Free Press Summer Fest at Eleanor Tinsley Park is officially (way) sold out, so our readers who don't have passes at this point are sadly now forced to test their skills at the "secondary market." For those of you who are already in, this week Rocks Off will be bringing you our staff recommendations for acts you might consider checking out while you're there. Today we turn our attention to artists whom you may not have heard of just yet, but could well soon. (Note: planets correspond to FPSF stage names.)
La Catrin I've only vaguely heard about experimental pop diva La Catrin, but I'm excited to her perform her seductive and sensual tunes with Dem Damn Dames. Equally electric and erotic, her voice and energy should prove to be one of the hidden gems of the festival. (1:10 p.m., Mercury) MARCO TORRES
Japandroids One of the bands I'm most excited about this year is guitarist/drummer duo Japandroids. These guys play noisy ass indie rock with the loudest distortion known to man and sweet, nostalgic riffs that remind you of the greatest summer parties. Already critical darlings for a few years now, they're currently scraping just under the glass ceiling of indie super-stardom; one more push and they might break through. (2:10 p.m. Saturday, Mars) COREY DEITERMAN
I have waited patiently for Japandroids to come to Houston ever since I randomly discovered "The House That Heaven Built" one night on satellite radio. On first listen it hit me like a lightning bolt -- it was the rock anthem I've spent the last few years waiting on. The rest of their sophomore album Celebration Rock is great too, but I've been counting the days until I can stand in the sun and finally singalong to one of the best songs to come out last year. CORY GARCIA
Brandon West and the Black Hats A greasy, garagey rockin' soul group like Brandon West and the Black Hats belongs in a seedy dive at last call, with longnecks stacked on the amplifiers. So what are they doing outdoors in the middle of Saturday afternoon? Hey, it worked for Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears a year or two ago. The Houston four-piece rocks in a very louche sort of way, without crossing the line into sloppy. Check 'em out on Reverbnation if you want a whiff of Keith Richards' 1988 solo album Talk Is Cheap. (Venus, 4:30 p.m.) CHRIS GRAY
Omotai Try not to get too drunk on Saturday night, because you're going to want to be at the fest fresh, early and hangover-free, on Sunday to catch Omotai. If you show up with a headache, you simply aren't going to make it. This trio of locals vomits forth a spine-rattling blend of post-hardcore, grind and sludge that's likely to be the heaviest, most destructive force you encounter all weekend.
Catching them first thing Sunday morning will be an excellent opportunity to liquefy your brain right off the bat, without the hassle of sneaking in a flask of absinthe or a stick of angel dust. (11:10 a.m., Saturn) NATHAN SMITH
Emily Bell Austin singer-singwriter Emily Bell is definitely worth a look, especially if you missed her at SXSW. Her brand of soulful vintage rockabilly may have been more in demand around 2006 or 2007, but it never really goes out of style. She's got a set of pipes that shift effortlessly between raw and smooth, which is no mean feat. Pretty easy on the eyes, too. (1:10 p.m. Sunday, Venus) JOHN SEABORN GRAY
Dawes Dawes are one of those bands that floats around in the periphery of the family of artists I follow. They catch my attention now and again when one of those artists sits in on some quite nice neo-Laurel Canyon collaborations. I never quite get around to checking out more from them, so what better time than Sunday to take the time to get to know them? (2:10, Neptune) APRIL BREM PATRICK
The Kopecky Family Band Originally united as a dorm-room jam collective at Nashville's Belmont University, the Kopecky Family Band has evolved from those meager college-campus beginnings to take on full-fledged indie-folk band status. With a comfortable collection of dreamy yet edgy songs, the group draws a unique line in the sand by incorporating things like finger-snapping, unusual instrumentation, and rad harmonies to create a sound that begs for a little bit of notice. (3:20 p.m., Venus) ANGELICA LEICHT
The Men The Men aren't exactly a band with a "low mainstream profile," but I somehow have managed not to see them live yet, so I'm looking forward to seeing their set. (6:40 p.m. Jupiter) NEPH BASEDOW
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Kitty Pryde I've been following the whole Kitty Pryde/Danny Brown blowjob fiasco and her pseudo-feminist response, so I'm curious to see her live and how she handles the crowd. I saw Kreayshawn at Fun Fun Fun Fest last fall and it was anticlimactic -- there's a chance Kitty Pryde will be the same, but... won't know until I got, right? (7:20 p.m., Mercury) BRITTANIE SHEY