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  • Staff Picks: Seven to see off the main stage

  • The headliners seem to get all the glory, driving ticket sales and bringing in fans, but what about the other acts? How should you map out your listening experience? Our Firefly coverage team has seven suggestions.
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  • Now in its third year, the Firefly Music Festival features seven stages and 108 music acts. For the math or memory-challenged, that’s three more stages and 37 more bands than last year. Obviously, the biggest names and the brightest (rising) stars typically grace the “main stage” at any festival, but what about the rest of the bands on the side stages? Who is worth traipsing across The Woodlands to see?
    Our Firefly team has a few suggestions:
    CHRISTI MILLER’S PICK: BOY & BEAR
    • WHEN 7 to 7:45 p.m., Saturday
    • WHERE The Forest
    Maybe it’s their Australian roots but something about the melodies and cadence of Boy & Bear conjures up white sand and deep, blue waters. That doesn’t mean the music is superficial, though. Their first album paid homage to the classic structures of old-school pop and rock music while their second (and most recent) album, “Harlequin Dream,” features 11 more textured songs. There’s less rock, a lot more wistfulness, some sexy guitar moments and distinct stories.
    Take B&B’s current hit, “Southern Sun.” At first, the song coasts along with a lilting acoustic guitar but then, without even noticing, listeners are in the thick of it, singing along to an undeniable hook. Like any beach day, it’s simple but it sticks with you. Other songs like “Old Town Blues” feature pensive poetry while the title track boasts a jazzy saxophone reprieve. “Three Headed Woman” is lead singer and guitarist Dave Hosking’s therapeutic breakup song.
    Mainly, just prepare for an effortlessly cool set full of melodic harmonies, folk-rock grooves, sublime optimism and catchy sing-a-long hooks.
    ANDRE LAMAR’S PICK: PARADE OF LIGHTS
    • WHEN 6:30 to 7:15 p.m., Thursday
    • WHERE The Lawn
    Formed in 2012, the California-based band Parade of Lights hasn’t released a lot of material yet, but the little it has unveiled to the world is lovely. The group mixes equal parts rock, new wave and shoegaze to create a unique blend of 80s-influenced pop that draws inspiration from artists such as Depeche Mode and Madonna.
    The quartet’s set on Thursday will most likely include every track off its new EP “Golden,” released in March. “Golden” features four honey-glazed tracks laced with euphoria. While the tempo of the songs aren’t super upbeat, there’ a spirit behind them that makes the tracks feel lively, provoking you to turn loose and cast away all of your cares.
    Page 2 of 4 - SCOTT GOSS’S PICK: A-TRAK
    • WHEN 8:45 p.m., Saturday
    • WHERE The Porch
    A-Trak, a 32-year-old Canadian DJ, producer and label owner, promises to unite Hip-Hop heads and EDM scenesters with a live set that guaranteed to shake booties, break beats and cross genres.
    A-Trak first made a name for himself in the 90s when he became the youngest person to win the DMC World DJ Championship at 15. He later became an honorary member of the Invisbl Skratch Piklz, performing alongside heavyweights like DJ Q-bert and Mix Master Mike, as well as a member of The Allies with DJ Craze.
    In 2004, he became Kanye West’s tour DJ. His prowess on the ones and twos can be heard on Common’s “Be,” Kanye West’s “Late Registration” and “Graduation,” Kid Cudi’s “Man on the Moon” and Drake’s “Thank Me Later.”
    But A-Trak is more than just a scratch artist. He’s also co-owner of the label Fool’s Gold, which has helped launch the careers of Kid Sister and Kid Cudi. In 2009, he formed a disco house production duo with Armand Van Helden under the name Duck Sauce, whose tracks “aNYway” and “Barbara Steisand” achieved massive success. More recently, he’s partnered with Cam’ron on the “Federal Reserve” EP, Lex Lugar on “Low Pros EP1,” and he has a collaboration with Young Thug in the works.
    Want more cred? He’s been featured on the cover of Billboard Magazine with Diplo and Skrillex. His brother, David Macklovitch, is one-half of Chromeo. He’s produced Lupe Fiasco and remixed MSTRKRFT and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. His video for the track “Tuna Melt” was nominated for a 2013 MTV Video Music Award. And last month he performed with The Roots on The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon.
    MADDY LAURIA’S PICK: YOUNG THE GIANT
    • WHEN 8:15 p.m.
    • WHERE The Lawn
    Indie rock lovers looking for a catchy band that’s played alongside bands like Minus the Bear and Incubus should check out Young the Giant.
    This five-man band from Southern California produces alternative rock that switches from mellow to punchy. And while their slightly synthetic sound may not be for everyone, it’s proven successful enough to get the band’s first three singles on the top five of Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart. The band also performed during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards and has earned multiple spots on the Billboard 200 chart and the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
    Page 3 of 4 - Young the Giant front man Sameer Gadhia has a sweet raspy hint to his voice that adds a little edge to the band’s melodies. Their music can be soft and soothing, with dreamy, vivid lyrics in songs like “Firelight” that you can lose yourself in, or allow you to rock out and dance to songs with an edgier songs like “My Body” and “It’s About Time.”
    But their most recent hit, “Cough Syrup,” which was featured on the TV show Glee in 2012, demonstrates exactly how catchy this band can be.
    JENNIFER DAILEY’S PICK: BAND OF HORSES
    • WHEN 8:30 TO 9:45 p.m. Friday
    • WHERE The Lawn Stage
    Band of Horses has been around for a decade, but its surge to popularity has been a slow and steady rise over the past few years.
    The South Carolina-based band originated in 2004 in Seattle and has since released four studio albums, including the Grammy-nominated “Infinite Arms”in 2010. Band of Horses has yet to have a hit on the Billboard Charts but that doesn’t mean concert-goers won’t be familiar with the band’s music. Songs such as “No One’s Gonna Love You” and “The Funeral” are familiar staples of film and television. Cee Lo Green even covered “No One’s Gonna Love You” in 2010.
    Rolling Stone magazine has compared the indie-rock band to fellow Southern-based rock band My Morning Jacket. Band of Horses recently released a live album “Acoustic at the Ryman” with stripped down versions of its 10 best hits.
    SARAH BARBAN’S PICK: WALK OFF THE EARTH
    • WHEN 3 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. Saturday
    • WHERE The Coffee House & The Porch
    Walk Off The Earth has been around for nearly a decade, but the band skyrocketed to stardom in 2012 thanks to a Youtube video in which its five members all play Gotye’s “Someone That I Used to Know” on a single guitar. The video garnered 35 million views in two weeks and helped launch the Ontario, Canada-based band into the public eye.
    To date, Walk Off The Earth has released three albums and their music style is incredibly varied. Some of their songs, like “Summer Vibe” and “Gang of Rhythm” are laid back and beachy. That aspect of their sound will appeal to anyone who is a fan of Jack Johnson.  Other songs, such as “R.E.V.O” have a fast-paced pop rock sound. Regardless of what style of music they’re playing Walk Off The Earth’s music is driven by harmonies, strong percussion and unique instruments like ukulele and banjo. Their tune “Red Hands” has gotten a little bit of radio play, but is by no means indicative of their sounds. If you want a little bit of everything all at once check out Walk Off the Earth.
    Page 4 of 4 - SARAH L. RAYNE’S PICK: BECK
    • WHEN 9 p.m., Saturday
    • WHERE The Lawn
    If you fancy a blast from the past in the midst of Firefly’s modern rock lineup, catch Beck Hansen AKA Beck, who’s touring for his first album in five years.
    The album “Morning Phase” was released in February and has been described by Beck as “California music,” borrowing from the sounds of the Byrds, Neil Young and Crosby Stills and Nash.
    Of course when we think of Beck, we remember the 1996 album “Odelay,” which birthed hit singles “Where It’s At,” “Devil’s Haircut” and “The New Pollution.” The album, Beck’s fifth, reached #16 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold over two million copies in the U.S. “Odelay” raked in several awards, including a Grammy in 1997 for Best Alternative Music Album. Beck also won a Grammy that year for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for “Where It’s At.”
    Since “Odelay” Beck has released seven studio albums, none of which reached the notoriety of the 1996 album that launched him into fame.
    Beck’s sound is difficult to classify as one specific genre, but is generally split between alternative and indie. Beck plays a variety of musical instruments and has been known to sample folk, psychedelia, electronic, country, hip hop and more.

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