Discover some of First Fest’s highlights and headliners
There's a lot to experience at First Festival this year, and the kicker is: It's completely local—Hold on, don't stop reading! Local doesn't necessarily mean amateur or awful, and Sacramento does have a lot of first-rate stuff. A heap of which is being showcased at the park. Read on for proof. Discover some of First Fest's highlights and headliners:
1:30 p.m. Saturday, Bigelow Stage
A three-piece blues-rock band out of Auburn (close enough), complete with snarling guitar fuzz, vocalist Dylan Jarman’s pain-stricken wails and wilderness rock nostalgia. Listen to their single, “You Got to Run,” and you might be inspired. Like the video suggests, it’s music prime for desert off-roading. Or outdoor festivals.
Throughout the weekend, The Circus
You have permission to laugh at these people. Take a break from the sun and enjoy the routines of some of Sacramento’s finest stand-up comics within the indoor Circus Stage: Shahera Hyatt, Keith Lowell Jensen, Robert Berry, Marcus Mangham, Sydney Stigerts and Amy Estes make only half of the funny people performing over the weekend.
6:30 p.m. Saturday, Bigelow Stage
The singer-songwriter is most known for fronting the ‘90s post-hardcore band Far, but his solo work is much more prolific: more than 20 releases in the last 20 years. Matranga commands the stage pretty mightily with just an acoustic guitar and his angelically soft-spoken voice, but he’s known to incorporate guests and a backing band, sometimes playing Far favorites like “Mother Mary.”
7 p.m. Saturday, The Confluence Stage
Pop-punk sisters Gwendolyn and Lucy Giles have been playing together since elementary school more than 10 years ago, when the now-closed Luigi’s Slice was a hub for Sacramento’s underground and up and coming. After touring with the big kids—Green Day actually—in 2016, Dog Party is back with a new album on their own record label, slated for June. Expect some new songs and a birthday celebration: Gwendolyn turns 22 Saturday.
8:30 p.m. Saturday, The Confluence Stage
Sacramento hip-hop legends Blackalicious occupy the top billing at First Fest this year. Producer Chief Xcel and emcee Gift of Gab haven’t put out a record since 2016’s Imani Vol. 1, but there’s plenty to listen to if you’re curious about their nimble rhymes and funky rhythms. Check out the famous “Alphabet Aerobics” and enjoy alliteration on overdrive.
1:45 PM Sunday, The Circus
The Circus is home to several avant-garde performers, including the musical spoken word poet AndYes. Check out his video “Finding Home in Your Mars” to see if his dramatic masked monologues are your jam.
3 p.m. Sunday, Blue Lamp Stage
Geoffrey Knecht and Alexandra Steele form the experimental pop duo Sunmonks. Together, they produce beautiful vocal harmonies over an eclectic set of genres, masterfully marrying organic and electric soundscapes. Listen to their song “Two Play” and welcome the weird vibes.
6:30 p.m. Sunday, Bigelow Stage
Look up “'PSA’ Don’t Fu[n]k Up Our Beats 6” on YouTube. Center-stage is Sac emcee Charlie Muscle, breathlessly speeding through a freeway of polysyllabic words and tongue-twisters. It’s impressively hard to keep up with. Catch him for his headline act, or watch him participate in the Circus’ hip-hop cypher.
7 p.m. Sunday, The Confluence Stage
The world-renowned beatboxer was first exposed to the televised stage on America’s Got Talent about 10 years ago. She fuses hip-hop and jazz, and her vocal talents go beyond making beats. She’s an incredible soul-singer and can emulate other instruments, like trumpets, with crazy impressive accuracy.
A Lot Like Birds
8:30 p.m. Sunday, The Confluence Stage
It’s over! The longtime post-hardcore outfit, which combined manic emo and puzzling prog rock in the vein of Dance Gavin Dance for almost a decade, chose Sunday as their last show. Apparently, some folks from Germany and Australia bought First Fest tickets and are traveling far to see it. To decide whether they are crazy, the band’s album Conversation Piece is a good way to demo their highbrow sound.