First City Festival: Set conflicts & resolutions

First-City-FestWritten by Molly Kish //

First City Festival //
Monterey County Fairgrounds – Monterey, CA
August 23rd-24th, 2014 //

First City Festival graces the sacred Monterey County Fairgrounds this weekend, with a jam-packed line up of indie talent. FCF Kicks off its inaugural year with two days full of hard hitting headliners and an undercard of up and coming acts. Catching such an abundance of uniquely curated artists can be a formidable task, requiring careful time management and appropriation.

For your convenience, we’ve broken down the toughest conflicts of the weekend to help you sort out your plan of attack.



The Black Angels vs. The Hold Steady vs. Guards

Depending on what kind of headspace you’re in, this one could be difficult. All three bands round out the first half of the day with a varying take on the modern state of rock music. The Black Angels will draw in a hardcore fan base and offer the most explosive undercard show.

However if a super psychedelic freak out isn’t your bag so early in the fest, The Hold Steady brings the same amount of energy to the stage — but in a much more choral manner. Primed for a punk rock sing along, this band will ignite the Redwood Stage with infectious energy that’ll carry over nicely into the evening hours.

If neither of these options float your boat, Guards is the perfect third choice. Falling somewhere between shoe-gaze bliss and contemporary alternative, this pop rock outfit segues perfectly into an opening night of dance heavy indie-rock headliners.

The Black Angels3:30 pm, Cypress Stage
The Hold Steady4pm, Redwood Stage
Guards3:55, Manzanita Stage

Delta Spirit vs. MGMT vs. Washed Out

This problematic trifecta conflict comes later in the evening Saturday. Although the bands during the magical hours contain musical elements that contribute to the overall sound of headliner Passion Pit, they contrast plenty in their musical focus as groups. Delta Spirit will be the choice for those riding high off the rock heavy vibes this year’s line up offers. Their sunny disposition and group harmonies will provide a perfect set for the seven o’clock hour – the show will also serve as a beautiful sunset transition into the follow up act on the Cypress Stage.

Taking over directly after Delta Spirit will be Washed Out, which if one chooses to stick around for effortlessly shifts the mood from pop rock into dance. Anticipate a mélange of hits from 2011’s Within And Without as well as Ernest Greene’s delightfully spacey 2013 LP Paracosm.

MGMT plays the wild card in this dilemma. Drawing from two albums – Oracular Spectacular brimmed with mainstream hits while Congratulations polarized waves of fans by bathing in psychedelic experimentalism — you never really know what you’re in for with their live show. With a third, self titled release on the way in September, plan on catching a handful of debut cuts. Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden are clearly on a mission to do what makes them happy in creating new music, scorning the search for radio hits while honing in on awesome weirdness.

Delta Spirit7:30pm, Cypress Stage
MGMT7:45pm, Redwood Stage
Washed Out8:30, Cypress Stage

Sunday, August 25 – VIEW SUNDAY SCHEDULE

Devendra Banhart vs. Electric Guest vs. Generationals

Three polar opposite artists provide the first difficulties on Sunday’s schedule. The FCF five o’clock hour is filled with some pretty difficult decisions as the fest showcases undercard heavy hitters, all coming from seriously divergent musical backgrounds. Devendra Banhart takes the cake when it comes to the stage that will be most dense during this time slot. Drawing influences from folk, indie, world music and pop, this multi-linguist singer songwriter will have ladies (and many dudes) from all walks of life swooning as he croons into the early evening hours. A perfect booking for a Sunday afternoon set, Banhart may be too mellow for those looking to keep the energy going into the evening.

Electric Guest conversely kicks it up a notch with their dance-heavy soul. This band’s live show is an energy packed production, and the LA outfit promises to rouse audience members to their feet for a Sunday fun day dance party with hits off of their critically acclaimed 2012 album Mondo, which was produced by Danger Mouse. This is a bit of a one off performance for Electric Guest, who are working on a second album and have more touring planned in October.

If neither of those options sound ideal, then the Generationals on the Manzanita stage will be killing it with their patented guitar driven, surf-rock party anthems. Celebrating their recent shift over to indie label extraordinaire Polyvinyl Records with their latest release Heza, this show will provide a burst of welcomed energy to any weary festival go’er.

Devendra Banhart5:10pm, Redwood Stage
Electric Guest4:40, Cypress Stage
Generationals5:05, Manzanita Stage

Deerhunter vs. Toro Y Moi vs. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks

The most eclectic conundrum of the festival comes up during the twilight hours on Sunday evening. These three acts are equally unique, representing some of the top talent of the entire weekend. Deerhunter, fronted by indie rock ingénue Bradford Cox, is simply a must see live music experience. Cox creates both touching and ecstatic music at a rapid pace with Deerhunter and his solo vehicle Atlas Sound – but Deerhunter thrives on a duality of layered psychedelic screamers and clean, to-the-point pop songs that seem like they came from a simpler time in the past — something our collective minds have manufactured. Fans will be rolling deep to this set, looking to hear live cuts from their 2013 album Monomania for the first time.

There are a couple great opening options for Deerhunter. Toro Y Moi will be on the Redwood Stage curating head-nodding pleasure loops. Blending his smooth jazz vocals with innovative samples and hip hop beats, Chaz Bundwick delivers as front man and live Dj.

This set will provide a soulful come down and polar opposite experience than the competing Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks. One of the most intriguing additions to this year’s bill, ATSF is an experimental electronic journey captained by Animal Collective’s Dave Portner. An audio-visual site to behold for the senses, this show will incorporate Portner’s affinity for sound production, crocodiles and cinematography into one giant spectacle. FCF’s most “choose your own adventure” moment of the weekend, eight o’clock on Sunday night will be a definitive moment in many festival attendees’ night.

Deerhunter7:10pm, Cypress Stage
Toro Y Moi6:25pm, Redwood Stage
Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks6:30pm, Manzanita Stage

We recommend creating and sharing your own personal schedule on the FCF website to help coordinate via social media with friends. While there, you can purchase NO FEE tickets to the recently announced NIGHTSHOWS!


If you aren’t ready to call it a day Saturday night at the fairgrounds, FCF boasts two stellar options to continue the party post festival. Providing a second chance to catch major acts from Saturday line up, these options are factors to weigh into your day time decision making.

Both are not only affordable, but within walking distance from the festival site and WILL SELL OUT QUICK! Click here to purchase tickets and to avoid surcharges.

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