For a festival that started accidentally—when two Winston-Salem booking agents scheduled four shows for four consecutive days and needed a way to market them—Phuzz Phest sure has grown. Last year, the event’s fourth outing featured simultaneous shows at three main venues across three days. There were eye-grabbing national acts like rapper Kool Keith and noisy pop-rock duo No Age, a coffee conference and a bike race. Despite its humble beginnings, Phuzz Phest now stands as one of the state’s most anticipated music festivals, raising the bar for events not named Hopscotch or Moogfest.

The party returns to downtown Winston-Salem April 17–19, enlarging once more to include more than 60 bands. The initial lineup—listed in full below—assembles more high-profile talent than ever before.

Foxygen—a paisley-tinged psych-pop outfit that inspires either elation or derision, depending on your perspective—is among the biggest names. The California crew will perform as a 9-piece, including a trio of backup singers/dancers, a configuration that truly conveys the lush and loping charms of last year’s …And Star Power. New York’s Cymbals Eat Guitars will bring their big, booming indie rock, dumping the genre’s expected irony for a heaping helping of unbridled passion. D.C. trio Ex Hex returns for the second year in a row, with last year’s appropriately titled Rips bringing their V-8 garage-pop the attention it deserves. Natalie Prass, whose elegant and unguarded soul received one of the new year’s first “Best New Music” certifications from Pitchfork, will perform, as will Trans Am, the longstanding Maryland outfit whose mercurial, synth-stoked machinations helped codify post-rock. Patiently blistering rock band Protomartyr, far-flung folktronica project Blackbird Blackbird, roots-rock contingent Futurebirds and former Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser are also among the headliners.

As it always has, Phuzz will lean on plenty of in-state talent: Mac McCaughan—a leader of both Merge Records and Superchunk—will lead a full band through some of his solo material. Asheville-based folk outfit River Whyless, whose new self-titled EP seamlessly blends Appalachian tradition with the ethereal grandeur of acts like Bon Iver and Joanna Newsom, are also on tap, as are infectious pop-rock outfits Estrangers, The Tills and T0W3RS, all signed to the festival’s label arm, Phuzz Records. There’s a great deal more where that came from, proof that the event’s organizers keep a steady finger on the pulse of North Carolina’s music scene.

Three-day passes are on sale now for the earlybird price of $65 here, and you can peruse the full line-up below.


1970s Film Stock (Winston-Salem, NC)

Alex Cameron (Sydney, Australia)

Aquatic Ceremony (Winston-Salem, NC)

Blackbird Blackbird (San Francisco, CA)

Blursome (Raleigh, NC)

Boulevards (Raleigh, NC)

Cactus Black (Winston-Salem, NC)

Caleb Caudle (Winston-Salem, NC)

Celestogramme (Carrboro, NC)

Cymbals Eat Guitars (New York, NY)

Dad & Dad (Carrboro, NC)

Daddy Issues (Greensboro, NC)

The Dead Tongues (Asheville, NC)

Echo Courts (Greensboro, NC)

Echo Crush (Winston-Salem, NC)

Eggy Strange (Durham, NC)

Estrangers (Winston-Salem, NC)

Ex Hex (Washington, DC)

Family Bike (Southport, NC)

Field Spirit (Chapel HIll, NC)

Firekat (Winston-Salem, NC)

Foxture (Winston-Salem, NC)

Foxygen (Los Angeles, CA)

Free Clinic (Wilmington, NC)

Futurebirds (Athens, GA)

The Genuine (Winston-Salem, NC)

The Gotobeds (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hamilton Leithauser (Brooklyn, NY)

The Human Eyes (Carrboro, NC)

Jeffrey Dean Foster (Winston-Salem, NC)

Joy Classic (Baltimore, MD)

Judy Barnes (Winston-Salem, NC)

Las Rosas (Brooklyn, NY)

Let Speak The Gods (Winston-Salem, NC)

Mac McCaughan (Durham, NC)

Make Light (Winston-Salem, NC)

Must Be The Holy Ghost (Winston-Salem, NC)

Natalie Prass (Nashville, TN)

Nest Egg (Asheville, NC)

Primovanhalen (Winston-Salem, NC)

Protomartyr (Detroit, MI)

R Father (Greensboro, NC)

River Whyless (Asheville, NC)

Ships In The Night (Charlottesville, VA)

T0W3RS (Raleigh, NC)

The Tills (Asheville, NC)

Totally Slow (Greensboro, NC)

Trans Am (Bethesda, MD)

Tyler Nail (Winston-Salem, NC)

Unfortunate Gentlemen (Winston-Salem, NC)

Volunteer (Winston-Salem, NC)

Vel Indica (Winston-Salem, NC)

Winston Facials (Winston-Salem, NC)

Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves (Winston-Salem, NC)

Yes The Raven (Hickory, NC)