“AHA Fest has become the largest alternative and emerging arts festival in New Mexico,” organizer Red Cell says. “This is a very music-heavy year and, in my opinion, the best lineup we’ve ever had.” A longtime local promoter, Cell has not only worked on the annual fest since day one, he was nice enough to boil down the must-see musical events—in no particular order. Just keep in mind that when it comes to things to do or see at AHA Fest, this is the tip of the iceberg.
1. Accordion Crimes
“Have you heard these guys?” Cell says, suddenly very serious. “I know the name,” I tell him. He replies with a firm but simple, “Dude.”
Denver’s Accordion Crimes melds noise rock with beautiful instrumentation (cello, for example) for an artsy take on indie/post-rock that will surely melt brains.
2. Adam Arcuragi
“He’s a modern-day troubadour,” Cell announces, “and an NPR darling.”
Arcuragi hails from Georgia, and his beautiful lyricism is matched only by the deceptive complexity of his acoustic-pickin’ brilliance.
3. Luke Carr’s Storming the Beaches with Logos in Hand
“Luke is debuting his new 12-piece band, and I couldn’t be more excited,” Cell says.
If you read last week’s column, you know Carr and his superband will be delving into sci-fi territory alongside expertly crafted indie/country/experimental music. If you didn’t read it, what are you waiting for?
4. Lily Taylor
“It’s Lily Taylor,” Cell says with a laugh. “She’s just amazing.”
Indeed, the once-local chanteuse will surely stir up plenty of awe with her gorgeous vocal numbers and immense stage-presence.
5. Peter Breslin
“He’ll have a booth and be performing duets with well-known locals all day long,” Cell says. “All. Day. Long.”
Educator by day, phenomenal musician by night, Breslin—who’s moved to the miserable heat of Tucson—returns to party in town now and then.
6. Jupiter Spiral
“These guys practically represent the whole state with members from Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Taos,” Cell shouts like a madman. “OK, maybe just the north, but still!”
Calling Jupiter Spiral indie-rock betrays how wonderfully chaotic and infectious the pysch-ish elements found throughout the five-piece’s catalog can be. Miss this and be sad.
7. Lady Gloves
According to Cell, “It’s coldwave…it’s electro…it’s amazing.”
A minimalist two-piece, Lady Gloves pleases just about anyone who can appreciate synth/computer-based music. This might be what the soundtrack to a movie about Goths who travel to the future sounds like.
8. Lady Uranium
“She’s fantastic and talented and we’re lucky to have her,” Cell says.
ABQ’s own Lady Uranium sounds like Vashti Bunyan shacked up with a more capable lyricist to produce thoughtful, folk-ish, indie tunes so catchy and so one-of-a-kind that it’s hard to believe they’re coming out of a single human being.
9. Heavy Metal Vomit Party
“You’ll be able to hear some cutting-edge, harsh-noise at his booth,” Cell says. “Maybe it isn’t for everyone, but it will at least be very interesting.”
Best band name of all time aside, Heavy Metal Vomit Party proves that a genre called “harsh noise” is actually more accessible than you think.
“Did you hear their most recent release?” Cell asks. “Sure did,” I tell him. “It’s excellent.”
And it’s really true. In a Poker Slash Refrain ushers in a new era of cohesiveness for the local act. Are they classical? Are they world music? Are they indie? They’re all of these things…and more.
11 am-9 pm Sunday, Sept. 15. Free.
The Railyard, Guadalupe St.
& Paseo de Peralta