No Country’s Guide to Wrecking Ball 2016: 13 Can’t Miss Sunday Bands

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What started last year as a 25h anniversary celebration for famed Atlanta venue The Masquerade, this year’s second annual Wrecking Ball festival will serve a very different function: a de facto goodbye to the celebrated concert space in its current and original home (don’t worry, The Masq isn’t closing down for good, just relocating to a new location in West Midtown). Set to take place this weekend, Aug. 13 & 14 (with a pre-party slated for Aug. 12), the festival’s sophomore year ups the ante in lineup, matching last year’s mix of nostalgia and modern musical relevance, and boasting a jaw-dropping slate of bands ranging from punk to emo to indie to hardcore, post-hardcore, alternative, and more. We’re road tripping down to cover, and if you’re planning on making the trek too, we’ve put together a handy festival guide, breaking down the must-see bands by day. We already brought you our must-see Saturday sets, and we’re finishing things off with 13 Sunday performers you can’t miss! Grab your single-day or weekend tickets, and check out our essential picks below!

#13: BROKEN BEAK

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Sunday | Purgatory | 2pm

What originally started as a solo vehicle for frontman Beau Brynes, a Philadelphia visual artist known for his work with bands like Have Mercy and Weatherbox, relative newcomers Broken Beak have since blossomed into a full band, and one that count Brendan Lukens, known for co-fronting breakout fellow Philly group Modern Baseball, as a guitarist. Following more lo-fi early efforts, the band recently released their debut full-length, Some Nerve, produced by another Modern Baseball member, Jake Ewald, and are fast garnering praise from the indie press. Brynes’ reflective and story-driven lyricism coupled with his raw and earnest vocal style help give this band a unique identity, and, though emo-adjacent, they seem to be just as inspired by indie rock with a touch of garage and power pop flair. Their LP is a definite hidden gem amidst the 2016 musical landscape, and if you haven’t yet discovered this band, we seriously recommend giving them a spin (you can also catch ’em at Cafe Coco in Nashville this Monday with Chris Farren).

LISTEN | “Book of Smoke”

WATCH | “Mire” (Official Music Video)

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#12: MOTHERS

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Sunday | Hell | 3:40pm

Effectively brand new to the scene, Athens, Georgia based Mothers began as a solo vehicle for frontwoman and visual artist Kristine Leschper, conceived as a new artistic outlet as she finished up her studies in printmaking at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. A self-taught singer and multi-instrumentalist, influenced by experimental folk and moody indie rock, Kristine developed her own local following throughout 2013 and 2014, during which time she began writing much of the material that would appear on Mothers’ debut. Deciding to expand the project into a full band, Leschper recruited drummer and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Anderegg, a fan of her work, to add broader instrumentation, eventually rounding out Mothers’ lineup with guitarist Drew Kirby and bassist Patrick Morales. The group tapped producer Drew Vandenberg (of Montreal, Deerhunter) to helm their debut, When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired, which dropped earlier this year, and, ahead of its release, found an initial wave of buzz for self-recorded b-side “No Crying in Baseball.” With poetic, conceptual, and artistic lyricism and arrangements, Mothers’ range of influences is broader than initial meets the eye, pulling not just from indie and folk, but also math rock and post-hardcore. An opening run with of Montreal helped further boost their presence last year, and, now that the record is out, Mothers are winning over fans and critics alike with their personal, hypnotizing style and sweeping, eclectic, sonic sensibilities. We loved their Bonnaroo set earlier this summer, and highly recommend venturing inside to see them at Wrecking Ball.

LISTEN | “No Crying in Baseball”

WATCH | “It Hurts Until It Doesn’t” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | TwitterSpotify

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#11: ANTARCTIGO VESPUCCI

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Sunday | Purgatory | 6:05pm

With such a stacked Sunday lineup, we were really torn on narrowing down our recommendations. Both Chris Farren (of Fake Problems) and Jeff Rosenstick (ex-Bomb the Music Industry) have solo sets on the Purgatory Stage, at 3:20 p.m. and 7:20 p.m. respectively, and both will surely be great, but we went the combo route and picked their collaborative project Antarctigo Vespucci for our list. Harboring more of an indie/power pop sound than any of their other respective projects, and a fun loving, lighthearted vibe (the name along should tip that off), the duo still write deep and poignant songs, their combined musical sensibilities funneled into dreamy, pop punk bliss. After a pair of early EPs, Soulmate Stuff and I’m So Tethered, the product of a close friendship that eventually spilled over into musical collaboration, the band got a little more focused and dropped their first full-length, Leavin’ La Vida Loca, last year, enlisting the help of The Gaslight Anthem’s Benny Horowitz on drums. Their bromance, musical chemistry, a genuine skill in crafting top-notch songs makes Antarchtigo Vespucci as great as the sum of its parts would suggest, and given how many other projects the duo juggle, we’d opt to see them whenever possible.

LISTEN | “Impossible to Place”

WATCH | “I’m Giving Up on U2” & “I Drew You Once in Art Class” (Live)

CONNECT | Facebook | Spotify

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#10: TIGERS JAW

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Sunday | Park North | 2:40pm

Made up of Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins, a duo since the departure of three permanent bandmates a few years back, but accompanied by a full live band in concert, Tigers Jaw have been around now for just over a decade, despite their young age. Originally rooted squarely in emo and pop punk, the group have drifted to include broader indie rock influences in their sound, even citing classic pop rock group Fleetwood Mac as an influence in equal measure with Brand New (sounds bizarre, but we can totally hear it). The strength of Tigers Jaw lies in their versatility, able to use their early influences as a foundation on which to build, unafraid to explore more adventurous song structure and pop tendencies, all the while maintaining a blunt and personal lyrical worldview. While the band’s self-titled sophomore album first helped them generate buzz in 2010, it was 2014 fourth album Charmer, the last effort to feature their former bandmates, that showcased the range and dichotomy of what the group are capable of. Though they’ve toured with acts like New Found Glory, Basement, and Lemuria, Tigers Jaw definitely seem like a band with the potential to find crossover success, and we’re eagerly awaiting them to release a new LP.

LISTEN | “Plane vs. Tank vs. Submarine”

WATCH | “Hum” (Official Music Video)

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#9: JOYCE MANOR

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Sunday | Park North | 4:05pm

Since forming in 2008, Torrance, California’s Joyce Manor have, like many of their peers on the Wrecking Ball lineup, managed to achieve both organic, indie punk authenticity and broader critical recognition from outlets too “cool” to cover anything that might be labeled pop punk or emo just a few short years ago (that “emo revival” is really just a revival in interest; the bands never left). Over three fantastic full-lengths, their best and most recent 2014’s Never Hungover Again, the band have honed a knack for crafting driving, loud, resonant punk songs about heartbreak, loneliness, drunken nights, and broken homes, winning over fans and critics with their genre-bending sound and raw honesty. Influenced as much by artists like Weezer and Morrissey as by ’90s emo, early ’00s pop punk, and scene peers like Hop Along, Tigers Jaw, and Title Fight, Joyce Manor are a live force to be reckoned with, forging a reputation that recently landed them a show at prestigious Nashville space Third Man. The band just announced their fourth album, Cody, which will arrive this fall, so expect to hear plenty of new material on full display.

LISTEN | “Fake I.D.”

WATCH | “Catalina Fight Song”

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify

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#8: FOXING

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Sunday | Hell | 5:50pm

A band we’ve recommended on numerous occasions, St. Louis rockers Foxing have led the emo/indie charge in recent years, emerging as one of the best, most substantive acts in the scene. With earnest, emotionally charged, and deeply personal vocal and lyrical prowess, noodle-y, mathy, instrumentation, and expansive, post-rock tendencies, Foxing are not an easy band to put in a box. What we can tell you though, is that their first full-length, 2013’s The Albatross, is one of the best debut albums in recent memory; haunting, heartbreaking, and gorgeous. Formed in 2011, and after an early stint of DIY touring, the LP enabled them to tour with legendary rockers Brand New, and, in recent years, Foxing have also shared the stage with the likes of Modern Baseball, mewithoutYou, The World Is A Beautiful Place…, and more. Their latest effort, last year’s Dealer, recaptures the raw, vulnerable spark of Albatross, building on its blueprint but pushing forward with more experience and focus, a truly fitting sophomore effort. Their songs are just as personal and effective live, and because of that, you should make their Wrecking Ball set a high priority!

LISTEN | “The Magdalene”

WATCH | “The Medic” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify

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#7: RAINER MARIA

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Sunday | Park South | 2pm

Since initially splitting in 2006, ’90s emo/indie mainstays Rainer Maria have reconvened for only a handful of shows, and their appearance at Wrecking Ball is among just eight reunion dates on the books for 2016. Formed in 1995 in Madison, Wisconsin, but based in Brooklyn by the end of the decade, the group formed out of the fallout of guitarist Kaia Fischer and drummer William Kuehn’s former band, coming together after Kuehn met frontwoman and bassist Caithlin De Marrais in a college poetry class. Quickly finding chemistry, the band promptly self-released demos and began to play DIY shows, soon landing on emerging indie label Polyvinyl. Their early efforts were characterized by dynamic, musical experimentation and personal, poetic lyricism, but it was their 2001 full-length A Better Version of Me, recorded in a converted cow born, which captured broader critically attention and helped Rainer Maria assert their status as one of the most relevant emo-influenced indie acts of the turn of the century. Always something of road dogs, the band performed relentlessly, sharing the stage with the likes of Braid, Mates of State, Denali, Coheed and Cambria, and many more, but, by the time fifth album Catastrophe Keeps Us Together arrived in 2006, by then a fixture in the Brooklyn scene, the band had seemingly run out of steam, caught in a weird time where MySpace emo ruled the land. They played their last show a decade ago, and only since 2014 have they been occasionally reuniting for appearances in bigger markets. Considering your chances to see this important part of emo history are few and far between, don’t squander your opportunity this weekend.

LISTEN | “Artificial Light”

WATCH | “Ears Ring” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Spotify

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#6: MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK

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Sunday | Park North | 5:45pm

Hailing from Minneapolis, Motion City Soundtrack burst onto the scene in the early ’00s, and have since become one of the most beloved and influential contemporary groups in the “emo” wave of popular music. Though technically formed by frontman Justin Pierre and guitarist Joshua Cain all the way back in ’97, it wasn’t until 2002 that the band’s lineup became finalized, with their debut full-length, I Am the Movie, released that same year (tastemaking punk label Epitaph would scoop them up and re-release it a year later). An early wave of buzz, fueled by independent touring, treks on Warped Tour,  and the strength of their songs helped find the group a broader audience, and by 2005’s Commit This to Memory, produced by Mark Hoppus, marking the first effort where all five members worked collaboratively on new material, Motion City Soundtrack were a certifiable breakout success, touring extensively with artists like Fall Out Boy and Blink-182, and finding broader attention from radio, television, and the music press. 2007’s Even If It Kills Me continued the band’s popular trajectory, and helped bag them a major label deal for 2010 effort My Dinosaur Life, which garnered extensive praise from fans and media, and managed to become the group’s highest-charting effort of all time. 2012’s Go would fall a little short, and, after slowing down somewhat and seeing the departure of longtime drummer Tony Thaxton, as well as paying fan-service for Commit‘s 10th anniversary in 2015, MCS released what will be their sixth and final LP last fall, Panic Station, shifting back to a more raw and uninhibited sound as an attempt to capture the energy and spirit of their live show. Influenced as much by ’90s alternative and emo as pop, indie rock, and punk, and characterized by their synth heavy sound and the personal, neurotic lyricism of Pierre, Motion City Soundtrack have always been a band able to transcend genres, linked to, but not fully characteristic of, the “pop punk” scene. An earnest, emotionally charged, and frenetic live force, they’re a band you absolutely have to see live to fully appreciate, and considering they only have a month of shows left until they’re gone for good, this is likely your last chance.

LISTEN | “I Can Feel You”

WATCH | “Everything Is Alright” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify

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#5: BULLY

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Sunday | Park South | 1pm

Throughout their earliest shows in 2013, buzzyworthy DIY releases and local domination in 2014, and subsequent signing, major label full-length debut, and well-earned international acclaim in 2015, watching local grunge pop group Bully rightfully ascend to become one of modern rock and roll’s most important acts has been an immensely gratifying journey. Led by singer/songwriter/producer Alicia Bognanno, an MTSU grad and former intern of beloved producer Steve Albini, Bully, despite their big label pedigree, have always been, and largely remain, a fiercely organic, self-sufficient unit. Since their earlier 7″ and tape efforts, self-released self-titled EP, and last year’s full-length debut, Feels Like, which landed on more year end lists than we can count (including on top of our own), the band have always managed to find a balance between ’90s alt-rock and grunge nostalgia, pop sensibilities, punk attitude, and modern indie flair, cemented by Bognanno’s unparalleled ear for production and biting musical sensibilities. Rounded out by drummer Stewart Copeland, guitarist Clayton Parker, and bassist Reece Lazarus, Bully are at home performing with legacy and contemporary indie and punk acts, and have quickly become festival favorites, catching attention beyond just media praise, and having their music featured in outlets like television commercials, video games, and late night TV. The group seem poised to become a certifiable household name this year, and their appearance at Wrecking Ball comes at a time when they’re fast becoming one of the most important rock bands making music today. Show up early and see what all the hype is about.

LISTEN | “I Remember”

WATCH | “Trying” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify

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#4: DINOSAUR JR.

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Sunday | Park South | 6:45pm

Without Dinosaur Jr., the ’90s alt rock explosion would likely have sounded a whole lot different. In fact, Kurt Cobin even famously asked frontman J Mascis to join Nirvana, years before they’d go on to change the world. Formed in the mid ’80s in Amherst, Massachusetts out the ashes of their former hardcore band, the trio, rounded out by bassist/vocalist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph, after early DIY buzz, found heaps of critical praise surrounding their second and third albums, 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me and 1998’s Bug. After persistent personal tensions, however, Barlow was unceremoniously booted from the band (subsequently focusing full-time on Sebadoh), though Dinosaur Jr, originally just called Dinosaur in their very early days, would go on to ink   major label deal, and find broader commercial success throughout the ’90s, thanks to a boom of interest in the alternative scene they helped influence. Essentially a solo vehicle for Mascis through this mid period, Murph would depart as well in the ’90s, and by ’97 the Dinosaur Jr mantle was retired. Mending fences, the band mounted an original lineup comeback in 2005, and, bucking traditional reunion norms, they’ve released four surprisingly stellar albums since, most recently Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not just last week. Famously loud and hard to put into a box, the group have always reached higher than just alternative rock, pulling from classic rock, metal, goth rock, and pop, popularizing the use of extreme dynamics and huge, thick, fuzz. Now certifiable rock and roll legends, Dinosaur Jr. are having a full-on late career renaissance, and should absolutely be on your musical bucket list.

LISTEN | “Just Like Heaven”

WATCH | “Tiny” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify

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#3: THURSDAY

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Sunday | Park North | 7:45pm

As far as breakups go, beloved post-hardcore mavens Thursday haven’t been gone all that long, but, still, getting a chance to see them play in the U.S. for the first time in nearly five years will surely be an epic weekend highlight. The New Brunswick, New Jersey group formed almost two decades ago, and catapulted to scene superstar status with their 2001 sophomore effort, Full Collapse, subsequently cementing their legacy and influencing countless other acts with 2003’s War All the Time. Co-opting elements of emo and post-hardcore, the band’s dark and earnest lyrical themes and heavy, visceral, and driving musical style helped them find a bridge of crossover appeal between the lighter, indie-influenced emo scene and fans looking for something packing a punch more akin to hardcore. Regular staples of festivals like Warped Tour and Bamboozle, Thursday toured relentlessly in the decade following their surge in popularity, remaining more critically acclaimed and commercially viable than the majority of their peers. Always proving a willingness to test the boundaries of their style, the band released their sixth, final, and most atmospheric and experimental album, No Devolución, in 2011, shortly before announcing their initial disbandment. After reconnecting on a personal level, the group were persuaded to reunite specifically for Wrecking Ball, promising a fan-geared, sincerely motivated comeback, which has since expanded to include more shows. If you’ve been missing Thursday as much as we have, then you know this set is a must-see.

LISTEN | “War All the Time”

WATCH | “Understanding in a Car Crash” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify

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#2: AMERICAN FOOTBALL

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Sunday | Park South | 4:55pm

Along with bands like Mineral, Braid, Texas Is the Reason, and even The Promise Ring (who we’ll get to momentarily), Illinois emo group American Football were not given the full attention they deserved during their short-lived run, but have been elevated to something of cult status in the years since. Formed from the fallout of similarly under-appreciated emo pioneers Cap’n Jazz, the Mike Kinsella-helmed group only existed from 1997-2000 and released just one eponymous LP. Fusing noodle-y math rock and indie sensibilities with sometimes spoken word songs, trumpets, and hypnotic riffs, American Football opted to become a “studio only” project shortly after their album arrived in ’99, folding altogether shortly thereafter. Perhaps a combination of their narrow window, the magnificent strength of their only release, and Kinsella’s subsequent and parallel endeavors, which have included Owen., Owls, Their/They’re/There, and occasional work with his brother Tim in Joan of Arc, not to mention the resurgence of interest in ’90s emo, by the time the 15th anniversary of American Football rolled around, the atmosphere was primed for the band to reunite. Since their return in 2014, American Football, originally a trio but now rounded out by Mike’s cousin Nate Kinsella on bass, have been met with newfound acclaim, and have intermittently returned to touring all over the world. While this is one reunion that seems like it could stick for the time being, the thought of ever seeing American Football live seemed like a pipe dream a few short years ago, and your opportunities are still limited; don’t miss a chance to see one of emo’s most talented acts.

LISTEN | “Honestly?”

WATCH | “Never Meant” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify

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#1: THE PROMISE RING

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Sunday | Park South | 3:20pm

When ’90s emo pioneers The Promise Ring sprang to life for a string of reunion shows in 2011 and 2012, we were absolutely elated, and, yet, somehow, missed out on an opportunity to see them, crushed by the prospect that it might be another decade before the band returned to performing. Fortunately, the wait wasn’t quite so long, as a New Year’s Eve show in Chicago gave way to renewed activity throughout 2016. Formed in 1995 in Milwaukee, the group’s influence on the trajectory of emo in the late ’90s and role in helping shape popular music in the ’00s can not be overstated; literally, the book on emo borrows its title from this band. Like American Football, The Promise Ring’s origins came from the ashes of Cap’n Jazz. Originally conceived a side project for guitarist/vocalist Davey von Bohlen, it became his full-time focus after the former band split, releasing an EP as well as their debut full-length, 30° Everywhere, in 1996 through Jade Tree. It was their sophomore effort the following year, Nothing Feels Good, that really helped the band reach a wider audience, however, standing the test of time to become one of the defining and most influential albums in the history of emo, and, arguably, one of the best records of all time, period. By 1999’s Very Emergency, The Promise Ring seemed to be on a trajectory more similar to peers like Sunny Day Real Estate, primed for mainstream crossover success, though they never quite reached the heights bands like Dashboard Confessional and Jimmy Eat World would just a few years later. By 2002’s Wood/Water, the group had decided to disband, briefly returning to play one show in 2005 before mounting a full reunion tour a few years back. They momentarily seemed to be done for good, but we’re insanely thankful to have a second chance to finally see one of the most influential and important emo bands of all time in person. If you’re attending Wrecking Ball, then you’re surely a fan of everything The Promise Ring helped build; pay them their dues and witness a piece of musical history. To really get the full experience, you should also catch Maritime, featuring von Bohlen and Promise Ring drummer Dan Didier, who’ve been active since 2003 and perform at 7:10 on the Hell stage.

LISTEN | “Emergency! Emergency!”

WATCH | “Why Did Ever We Meet?” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT | Site | Facebook | Twitter | Spotify

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