Top Acts from Middle of The Map: Brian’s Choices

This weekend was one of the best weekends for music lovers. Middle of The Map absolutely crushed it. Every night of the four day festival was full of some of the best music locally and nationally. With so much talent, it was tempting to skate around the city, trying to get a bite of everything, of which I was certainly guilty. That said, I definitely have some favorite acts.

Locally, I would have to say Various Blonde and Psychic Heat tied for my favorite bands to see. Both bands blended technical proficiency with a dynamic stage performance. Various Blonde’s music has all the sex appeal of The Weeknd and all the grit of Rage Against the Machine–the combination makes for a performance that is explosive. If you didn’t catch them at Middle of the Map, no fear. The band will perform again soon.

MOTM - Various Blonde - 1

Psychic Heat’s garage psych is perfect for live shows. The stage allows the band to flush out their material, to meander through jams with a real sense of discovery. With fuzzed over guitars and driving percussion, Psychic Heat promises music that will warm even the coldest souls. And they will be performing again soon–their album release show at Mills Record Company is on the 20th. You do not want to miss this band.

Psychic Heat (photo by Zach Bauman - )

Psychic Heat (photo by Zach Bauman – )

The national acts also brought some heat. I think as far as performances go, Gallant wowed me the most. The singer bounced from one side of the stage and never missed a note. His ability to balance such an energetic performance without losing the breathe support needed to hit the highs and lows of his songs is beyond impressive–a true performer.

MOTM 2016 - Gallant - 4


Likewise, Charles Bradley put on a show that was fantastic. Backed by an amazing set of musicians, the almost septuagenarian powered through his set with a give-no-f*$&s attitude. Without a doubt, Charles Bradley was comfortable on stage. And this comfortableness came out not only in his vocal abilities but his ability to command attention. Ending his set with “Changes,” Bradley wandered into the crowd and tossed out roses–a moment that was genuine and unexpected.

MOTM 2016 - Charles Bradley - 7

These were my favorite acts of Middle of the Map 2016. But there were so many other great acts that could have easily made this list. Vince Staples rocked the third night. Ebony Tusks repped Lawrence hip hop hard. Your Friend. made some beautiful sounds. Besnard Lakes were an immersive experience. In short, every artist that played the fest were great. Only 364 days until the next Middle of the Map. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait.

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