It’s tough to talk about the cultural climate of New England without mentioning Providence, RI, Boston’s quirky younger cousin just forty-five minutes South on I-95. The city is an incubator for cutting-edge music and art, thanks to an artistically-minded local government and a handful of powerful arts institutions including the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University. Then there’s AS220—a multi-purpose space that operates simultaneously as a music venue, art gallery, coffee shop, and even as an affordable housing complex for artists. This rich local scene has given rise to a handful of indie acts that have been making big moves lately.
Lightning Bolt is a vicious noise rock duo made up of fast-fingered bassist Brian Gibson and Brian Chippendale, who’s ferocious on a drum kit. The pair operate alongside a mountain of effects pedals that transform the aural assault into a wall of thrashing, digital psychedelia.
Folksy roots-rock outfit Deer Tick is big with the flannel-clad hipster crowd. Think raspy vocals and front-porch tales of woe. This year they’ve gone all charitable on us, auctioning off their retired tour bus to benefit victims of the recent flooding in Pakistan. Fans will have a chance to applaud their humanitarianism in person during their East Coast tour this winter.
Blevin Blectum is the city’s leading lady when it comes to bleeps and beats. She has recently appeared around New England with a live set that incorporates costuming and visual media with overwhelming blast beats, atmospheric soundscapes, and glitch-y lead melodies.
Sage Francis, founder of Strange Famous Records, reigns over politically-charged white-boy hip-hop. While he announced an indefinite hiatus from performing earlier this year, he’ll still be in the game, switching focus to his label and his work with knowmore.org. You can find the title of this year’s album, Li(f)e, tattooed along the forearms of disaffected bros nationwide.