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Buzzworthy Acts at a Music Festival Near You

Ever wonder what the soundtrack to your life would play like? As you make moves to take back your freedom in 2014—by remixing your routine, making the most of new technologies and speaking out to make your voice heard—you’re going to need a killer playlist capable of pumping you up and mellowing you out. Ready for the best part? The hottest artists of the year will be taking the stage at some of the nation’s coolest music festivals, which means a few well-tuned road trips are definitely in your future. Here, our Top 10 list of whom to download now and rock out to over the next 314 days.

  1. GRiZ. Detroit is the birthplace of Motown, Madonna and, most recently, Grant Kwiecinski—a twentysomething producer/musician currently leading the charge of electronic music. GRiZ’s style blends electronic sounds with a heavy hand of funk, soul and jazz influence, thanks in large part to the saxophone he breaks out during shows. Check out his set in the blu Electric Lounge at SXSW 2013 before hearing him this year at the BUKU Music + Art Project.
  2. Peelander Z. This New York–based Japanese punk band is outrageous in all the right ways. Onstage, they rock color-coordinated costumes (a cross between wrestling garb and Power Rangers suits) and participate in antics such as human bowling—all while belting out tracks like “Tacos, Tacos, Tacos” and “Mad Tiger.” See them this year at the Slingshot Festival.
  3. Armin van Buuren. DJ Mag has placed this trance-style performer in the No. 1 position of its Top 100 DJs list for five of the last eight years—ranking him number two in the world the remaining three years. Van Buuren is an undisputed international sensation who performs only a handful of U.S. shows each year. Catch him in 2014 at the Ultra Music Festival.
  4. Outkast. Get ready for this, Ms. Jackson: Antwan “Big Boi” Patton and André “3000” Benjamin are returning to the stage this spring to celebrate their 20th anniversary in the biz. The hip-hop duo hasn’t released a record since 2006, so get ready for lots of oldies but goodies, including “Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya!” After making their debut at Coachella, Outkast will kick off a 40-festival world tour at the CounterPoint Music Festival.
  5. Pretty Lights. Instead of borrowing samples to combine with the hip-hop beats and lively synth lines that have become a staple of this electronic artist, Derek Vincent Smith composed, recorded and pressed on vinyl all of the tracks that we hear on his latest album, A Color Map of the Sun. Think that’s impressive? Just wait till you see him live at CounterPoint.
  6. Portugal. The Man. We’ve been rocking out to this band full throttle since they hit the road with blu during last year’s Freedom Project™. On tour, they told us that freedom for them means being able to create good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll—which, lucky for us, translates to jams like “Modern Jesus” and “Evil Friends.” Hear more from the band by revisiting 2013’s Freedom Project, and catch them this year at the Hangout Music Festival.
  7. Pizza Underground. So here’s the (deep) dish on this band: They play covers of 1960s rock band The Velvet Underground, but pepper the tracks with pizza-themed lyrics and song titles like “Papa John Says,” “Cheese Day” and “I’m Waiting for Delivery Man.” Oh, yeah, and Macaulay Culkin does vocals and plays percussion and kazoo for the band (yes, kazoo). See these hipsters deliver the goods at SXSW 2014.
  8. Action Bronson. Also taking the stage at Austin’s annual music bash is this up-and-coming New York City rapper, whose flow recalls the Golden Age of rap and artists like Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang Clan and Nas. Action was a professional chef before he started serving up mixtapes (he has a series of “Action in the Kitchen” videos on YouTube), so he’s sure to bring a five-star show to SXSW 2014.
  9. Manchester Orchestra. 2014 is shaping up to be a big year for this Atlanta-born indie rock band, with a new album, entitled Cope, set to hit shelves in April. In the meantime, whet your appetite for all things Manchester Orchestra by rocking out to the record’s first single “Top Notch” (which is exactly that), and stay tuned in to blu for info on when and where to see the guys live this year.
  10. Doug Benson. Heard enough? For those moments when you need to take a breather from all the beats, we’ve dedicated a spot on our playlist for this feisty comedian. Check out Benson’s “Doug Loves Movies” podcasts, where fellow performers like Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, Amy Poehler and Nick Kroll sit down and answer questions for the comedian. It’s “Inside the Actors Studio” meets “Between Two Ferns.” Catch the live act during Comedy Night at the Slingshot Festival.