It's easy to get hung up on which names are sitting at the very top of any festival lineup. It's understandable if you're spending money on a ticket, it's only natural that the biggest acts play a part in deciding which festival you want to go to in any given year.
But looking below those headliners on a poster can lead to new discoveries, exciting newer acts, and artists at the height of their powers.
So with that in mind, we cast our eye over the Mad Cool Festival lineup for 2019 – ignoring the likes of Bon Iver, The National, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure who are on headlining duty, as well as the other big acts high up the bill: Robyn, The 1975, Vampire Weekend, Iggy Pop…
Instead, here's a selection of slightly newer, lesser-known, and up-and-coming acts that we think you should check out.
This bunch of South London boys are one of the most hyped bands of the moment, at least in their home city (and country). They are actually alumni of the BRIT School – which brought us the likes of Adele and Amy Winehouse – but you wouldn't have thought it, given the weird and experimental math-rock/post-punk sound they produce on stage. The lead singer's voice is something of an acquired taste, but you'll struggle to keep your eyes off the drummer and his boundless energy.
The Australian cut her teeth as resident DJ in popular East London spot Ridley Road Market Bar, before being offered a long-term residency at one of the city's most respected clubs, Phonox, which came to an end after two years in September 2018. In that time, she has earned herself countless fans with her eclectic sets that journey through Afro and Latin rhythms, acid house, electro, techno, disco and beyond.
Another Aussie DJ is just as adept at spinning lo-fi house as full-blown techno bangers; Mall Grab's own productions have been some of the most unique and interesting in the scene over recent years – from ‘Pool Party Music’ to ‘I’ve Always Liked Grime’. Always one to get crowds going, no matter when or where he’s playing.
Sitting at a hard-to-define, but incredibly satisfying intersection between styles, Yonaka are a band featuring on a lot of 'ones to watch' lists, from all manner of publications. Their Facebook bio reads "Dark Alt Pop with heavy riffs", which encapsulates the sound better than I could ever hope to in so few words.
When you witness the ambient, experimental, soulful and atmospheric mood that TOKiMONSTA creates with her hip-hop infused production and sets, it's hardly surprising to learn that she was one of the earliest signings to Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label. Ten years into a career that has seen her work with the likes of Anderson .Paak and Justin Timberlake, it's fair to say TOKiMONSTA deserves to be better-known.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
2018 was a big year for these indie-rockers from down under, with their debut album Hope Downs being met with nearly universal critical acclaim, featuring on a number of 'Album of the Year' lists. Perfect music for a day in the Spanish summer sun.
Yet another Australian, and another act with a fantastic debut album out last year. Flow State managed to be all sorts of things at once – with bits of psych rock, reggae, electronic music and lo-fi and all thrown into the mix. The live shows are much the same, with Sultana playing the part of a one-person band, jumping between instruments and covering all aspects of the rich and varied sound; led primarily by often Hendrix-esque guitar playing.
Tickets, packages, accommodation and extras for Mad Cool 2019 are available here