The Bunbury Festival might be Ohio’s premier fest for those seeking balance … that is, solely in the spectrum of alternative rock anyway. The batch of bands coming to the Cincinnati festival in July aren’t all that diverse outside of that genre past and present; looking at lineups from 2013 and 2012, one will see Weezer and Death Cab for Cutie, as well as acts that require more research like Divine Fits and Devotchka. This balance comes in the form of the nostalgic alt-rock (middle school-era for today’s college kids; Paramore, Fall Out Boy) as well as some up-and-comers (The Orwells, Cults). So there’s stuff to get plastered on and sing to, and perhaps something new to get hooked on, all for relatively cheap — $145 gets you into all three days July 11-13. The five artists below I think pick out the best of the pool, and might make it very well worth the short trip south.
1. Flaming Lips (July 13, 9 p.m.)
A February Miley Cyrus show saw her covering the Flaming Lips’ “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part 1,” and being joined by the band’s frontman Wayne Coyne to help sing it. Hoping that doesn’t happen vice versa at Bunbury, the Flaming Lips should put on something with more than a tinge of bombast. Already jealous of the concert-goers who will get to juggle Coyne in a big ball.
2. Andrew W.K. (July 12, 8:15 p.m.)
An Andrew W.K. show is like a pit of hugs and cuddles. Every attendee becomes instant best buds, and only with sensory deprivation would anyone be able to avoid the euphoria (or the party, as W.K. might say). Even though he’s playing solo — just him and a keyboard, if it’s anything like last year’s A&R Bar show — the song will maintain the same power as if they were driven by his normal metallic texture.
3. The Orwells (July 13, 8 p.m.)
The Orwells, along with the band at No. 4, fall into the new music arena that Bunbury is hosting this year. This Elmhurst, Ill., garage rock revivalist band is sort of this comprehensive, youthful package of The Stooges and Black Lips. They’re ferociously energetic to a point that the band itself is as wasted as you are at the end of the set.
4. Saintseneca (July 13, 7:15 p.m.)
It’s incredible the attention Saintseneca is getting now, having played SXSW just last week and undergoing a tour that takes them through Columbus (their hometown) in April. This band of locals play feathery folk-rock with a punky thrust that made them suitable for house shows back in the day and probably impeccable now on the big stage.
5. Fall Out Boy (July 12, 10 p.m.)
F— it, I’ll go.