Think of the Killers if they were still a bar band, playing their crystalline sheen of anthemic guitar-synth rock in an intimate setting. If you can picture that, you have a good idea of Calcaska, a Flint-based trio. Crammed with hooks and melodies you won’t be able to free from your mind for days (not that you’ll be trying too hard to exorcise them), the group’s songs are imbued with the frenetic restlessness of youth and the desire to hold onto it. Take the “YBYL” from their second EP of the same name, wherein frontman Jeff Gingrich proclaims, “Young blood, young love/ We got, we got/ Young blood” over shimmering instrumentation. Slated to take a hiatus before being contacted by Hell’s Half Mile, Calcaska put their break on hold to play the festival.
Howling their way from the depths come the Hounds Below. With their hellfire and blues-evoking name, the Ferndale quartet emerge from the wake cut by parent band the Von Bondies, one of the premier groups of the early 2000’s garage rock revival. From that band, the Hounds bring frontman Jason Stollsteimer’s distinctive voice and hook-laden songwriting. Their debut LP, You Light Me Up In the Dark, dropped in October 2012 and is loaded with songs indebted to the Pixies’ frenetic style, filtered through a pop sheen and a more anthemic veneer. Performing live, they employ the best of both worlds to staggering effect, being down and dirty but with a sprawling grandeur.