When it comes to radio festivals, you mostly take what you get. Lineups are formed not unlike the megazords from Power Rangers, with different tours mashed together for an afternoon, the connections between them being mostly limited to airplay on the host station. Credit to Buzzfest for consistently putting together lineups that make sense on paper even if very few people would think, “yes, I think I will book Our Lady Peace and Atlas Genius to open for Godsmack.”
There’s a certain Mad Libs quality to radio festivals, which is part of what makes them a joy. Odds are you’re going to have to sit through at least one band you might otherwise never have seen, and the sonic whiplash of different sounds at least keeps listeners on their toes. Although this year’s Buzzfest is a scaled-down affair compared to previous years - with only one stage instead of two - the lineup is solid with acts that have serious live chops.
If you need to do some last-minute prep work for Saturday afternoon, we’re here to help fill in some of your blind spots. Every band has a song with more Spotify spins than the rest of their catalog, and these are the ones we’re looking forward to hearing the most.
6. Live, “Lightning Crashes”
Someone has to be at the bottom of the list, but that’s not to say that “Lightning Crashes” is a bad song. What it lacks in the raw power of “I Alone” - one of the real gems of ‘90s alt-rock - or the intensity of “Lakini's Juice” it makes up for in being a masterclass in building up a song from a ballad into rocker over the course of a few minutes. It should make for an excellent set closer for the band.
5. Meg Myers, “Desire”
Song for song, Meg Myers may be the best act on the Buzzfest bill. Her first two full-length records are among the best in their respective years, full of songs that are dynamic in scope and intensity. “Desire” being at the top of her portfolio is a bit surprising, and “Numb” is one of the best rock songs of the last two years and she has a cover of “Running Up That Hill” in her arsenal. Make sure to show up early and bask in her greatness.
4. Atlas Genius, “Trojans”
Meet the wild card of this lineup. It’s been a few years since Atlas Genius has released a new record, and their sound is more dancey than riffy, but with a song like “Trojans” to fall back on, they should be more than fine standing shoulder with the rockers they’re sharing the bill with. Buzzfest should, at the very least, be a good chance for the band to make some new fans.
3. Godsmack, “I Stand Alone”
Is anyone else surprised that “I Stand Alone” is Godsmack’s most-streamed song? Yes, it has a unique riff and the lyrical content that would make it an excellent wrestling theme song, one might have expected to find the immediately accessible “Awake” at the top of the list, or their ode to things pagan in “Voodoo.” Godsmack, with their riffage, is the perfect headliner to send rock fans home happy.
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2. Our Lady Peace, “Superman’s Dead”
One wonders how Canadian rocker’s Our Lady Peace’s career might have turned out had they debuted maybe two years sooner. They had plenty of singles with rock chart potential, but seemed to be just slightly out of step as the sound of rock radio became more nu-metal and butt rock. Clumsy remains one of the great alt-rock records of all time, and “Superman’s Dead” smokes “Kryptonite” when it comes to songs that reference DC superheroes.
1. Bush, “Glycerine”
Bush is a very good rock band, but sometimes you write a ballad so well constructed that it overshadows everything else you write. Such is the case of “Glycerine”, with its simple instrumentation and Gavin Rossdale’s lovely vocals. Expect this to be the big sing-along for the day, or at least the song with the most people awkwardly making out.