6 Acts You Can't Miss At The Sophomore Edition of Float Fest 

click to enlarge KODY MELTON
  • Kody Melton

For its sophomore year, Float Fest returns with an odd combo of independent music, camping and the Lone Star pastime of tubing. Unfortunately, you cannot float the river and shotgun Lone Stars to Paul Wall (6:30pm on Saturday) — you'll have to get your ass out of the San Marcos River and in front of the stage to catch the Houston rap or indie crooners on tap for the weekend. Below, peep our six acts not to miss at the semi-aquatic, three-day gig.

click to enlarge Dr. Dog - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Dr. Dog

Dr. Dog / 8pm / Friday

Perennial indie rock favorite Dr. Dog is a band with a reputation for doing whatever the fuck it wants. While keeping the acid-folkie dream alive through its pop-jolted, freak-folk stylings, the group has also managed to keep its sense of humor.

Over the course of eight LPs and four EPs, the Dr. Dog sound has grown away from lo-fi folk and, increasingly, into brighter and bolder territory.

Only time will tell if this progression is going to continue to pay dividends or if it will take Dr. Dog more in the direction of irrelevant oddness à la Flaming Lips, or jam band blandness. For now, having just dropped a thoroughly satisfying live album at the beginning of the year, the Dog dudes are just having fun playing big ass shows, which is really what they do best. — James Courtney

click to enlarge Local Natives - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Local Natives

Local Natives / 9:45pm / Friday

This LA quintet looks like a J. Crew college rock ad campaign playing ever-annoying, front-of-stage auxiliary drum rigs. Though it's generally a good rule of thumb among musicians, this time don't judge the band by its look. Local Natives' animal-inspired pair of records — Gorilla Manor and Hummingbird — is the criterion for indie rock arrangement. Over long, melodic tom riffs, the band nails enviable three-part harmonies, singing of romantic duress and the daily life of "cold cereal and TV."

click to enlarge Sam Lao - COURTESY
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  • Sam Lao

Sam Lao / 3:30pm / Saturday

On "Nirvana," trying to cover new ground, Dallas rapper Sam Lao hopes her new shoes will "take her further than the last pair did." But, her previous kicks weren't too shabby if they're the ones that brought her into the hip-hop spotlight from the hip-hop desert of North Texas.

With the 2013 EP West Pantego, the metroplex rapper flashes the boundless ambition of a young and bloodthirsty career. Stylistically, Lao can juggle backbeat rides and Last Poet rambles, most effectively working in a trap pose more familiar down the road in Houston. On her best tune, "Pilgrims," Lao takes on all interlopers and culture vultures: "It's too fucking early for these pilgrims, let's Kill Bill 'em."

click to enlarge Bun B - COURTESY
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  • Bun B

Bun B / 8pm / Saturday

After the 2007 OD of UGK co-founder Pimp C, Port Arthur's Bun B remains as one of the great preachers of Lone Star rap doctrine. In addition to guest lectures at Rice University and Bun B's Coloring and Rap Activity Book (written with San Anto native Shea Serrano), Bernard Freeman's trill-themed solo releases are some of the finest to leave Texas since Z-Ro's "Mo City Don."

click to enlarge Otis The Destroyer - COURTESY
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  • Otis The Destroyer

Otis the Destroyer / 2pm / Sunday

With a name like Otis the Destroyer, you might expect this ascendant Austin four-piece to brandish a punishing and desolating sound. The band however, is actually a refreshing presentation of crunchy riffs, big drums and damn-near-pretty pop singing. This is a rowdy, loud garage rock band, but without an over-abundance of fuzz or confoundingly drowned vocals. Otis the Destroyer's music is loose and delivers a liberating sensation of aimlessness without ever feeling sloppy or disposable. In other words, the group has managed to find the sweet spot, elusive to so many, between creative abandon and purposeful precision. — James Courtney

click to enlarge Sarah Jaffe - COURTESY
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  • Sarah Jaffe

Sarah Jaffe / 5:45pm / Sunday

Denton singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe is among the most criminally underrated talents in Texas music, maybe even popular music in general. Why? Jaffe has — in the span of seven years and five albums — marched from gritty bedroom folk to Starbucks pop, through lush indie rock to even more lush, orchestral indie rock, and finally, with her most recent effort, to electro-pop.

Meanwhile, as she tries on genres, discontent with sitting still in form or in content, her brash, bright and oddly beautiful voice has remained at the core of her work.

Jaffe just has one of those truly singular rock voices that can constrict or widen the very pumping of your heart. It's a penetrating instrument, to say the least. Jaffe's most recent work, 2014's Don't Disconnect, might signal her arrival as a mainstream contender but she's been proving her mettle since the get-go. — James Courtney

Float Fest

$65-$349, 2pm-10:45pm Fri-Sun Aug. 28-30, Cool River Ranch, 601 Dupuy Ranch Rd., Martindale, Tx,888-512-7469, floatfest.com


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