Get your shorts and shades out as summer will be here sooner than you think, and with it comes a slew of fresh music, big-name tours, and Santa Barbara Bowl shows, including KJEE’s Summer Round-Up. In its 11th year, the concert is composed of some of today’s hottest alternative acts: Of Monsters and Men, Walk the Moon, Banks, Family of the Year, and Santa Barbara locals The Blues and Greys. Not sure which bands to watch? Here’s the down-low on this year’s stellar acts.
Headliner Of Monsters and Men has come a long way from their native Iceland. The indie folk-pop quintet skyrocketed to international fame, thanks to the 2011 release of a quadruple-platinum hit song, “Little Talks.” The band have since played major music festivals across the globe, including Coachella, Reading, Leeds, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo. The band is famously popular for its heartfelt harmonies, fantastical storytelling, and creative use of instrumentation, ranging from horns to warm acoustic guitars to anthemic drums. Their music is reminiscent of Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and The Lumineers. Get a sneak peek of the band’s new material at the Round-Up — the band will be dropping its second full-length album, Beneath the Skin, on June 9.
If you hate dancing and fun, definitely skip Walk the Moon’s set. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a band to rock out to and are a fan of face paint, this is right where you belong. The indie dance-rock quartet gained a massive following after the success of its 2012 self-titled debut album, which featured hit track “Anna Sun.” This act is notorious for having spunky, high-energy shows where band members and audiences alike don neon colors, glow-in-the-dark gear, and face paint. In late 2014, it released its second album, Talking is Hard, which is why you’re best off obeying the band’s newest hit and iconic mantra, “Shut Up and Dance.”
If you’re searching for gloomy neo-soul pop reminiscent of Lorde and Lana del Rey, Banks is your girl. After several online-only releases, the 26-year-old singer/songwriter from Orange County dropped her first album, Goddess, last September. Notoriously bad at social media, Banks chose to connect with her fans in the realest way possible by posting her phone number on her Facebook page rather than updating fans on Twitter. But her lack of virtual presence hasn’t affected her career — with the release of Goddess comes her first hit single, “Beggin for Thread,” which has gained international success.
Also hailing from SoCal is melodic indie-rock quartet Family of the Year. With stunning male/female harmonies and soul-stirring melodies, the group has played their way across the states at celebrated indie music festivals like Lollapalooza and BottleRock Napa Valley. Family, who rocks in the same heart-aching veins as Belle and Sebastian and The Head and The Heart, is known for its tragic indie hit “Hero” and the as-of-yet-unreleased track “Carry Me,” which was teased on the TV show Girls a few weeks ago. Keep an ear out for new music from Family of the Year at the Bowl, as the band will be releasing a new album later this year.
This year’s area act is chill wave indie-pop quartet The Blues and Greys. These Santa Barbarans started playing shows two years ago shortly after the release of their debut EP Bright Lights. The band blends elements of melodic pop, heartfelt vocals (from singer Lindsey Waldon), and dark, ethereal sounds. The band’s music evokes the beach at dusk and plays like a mishmash of Death Cab for Cutie, The xx, and Silversun Pickups in the best way possible. This is an act not to be missed, so make sure to get to the Bowl on time!
KJEE’s Summer Round-Up is Sunday, May 17, at 5 p.m., at the S.B. Bowl (1122 N. Milpas St.). For tickets and information, call (805) 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com.