Troika Music Festival has seen a lot of wear and tear in its five years. Formed in 2005 after a run of events known as the Durham Music Festival, Troika fumbled through its salad days, whether by experimenting with national bands it arguably didn’t need or by splitting the action between Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh. Organizational breakdowns almost ended the idea in 2007, and, last year, public debates about band and venue choices left some bitter about the way the festival handled some locals.

But this year, Troika finally deserves center stage: Without question the festival’s best booked, curated, organized and publicized effort yet, Troika in 2009 puts many of the better bands in the state in the same town for three days at a price that’s laughably reasonable. Because it’s the product of a committed community of volunteers reaching beyond one particular niche of music in the Triangle, the programming is interesting and smart. The young punks of hot Raleigh export Whatever Brains, for instance, share a stage with the vets of Pipe. Or there’s The Beast and Megafaun. Two of the Triangle’s most imaginative, uninhibited and best live acts in memory, they open the events with a free show in a park. Like the music of those bands, it’s an open invitation for the citythe region, reallyto accept this 70-band bill as its own. Grayson Currin

See our music blog, Scan, for our writers’ picks for must-see shows, a map of this year’s venues and daily coverage of the festival, including set reviews and photos.

Tickets & free shows

Three-day passes cost $20. Day passes cost $8 each. Both can be purchased at and at the door of each festival venue.

Tickets now purchased online can be picked up at The Pinhook or at will call at Durham Central Park on Thursday night.

Free shows: Thursday night features one free show, Friday night features two and Saturday night features four.

Daily schedules & MP3s

Click schedules below to download/stream a song from each of the 70 bands performing at Troika.

Thursday, Nov. 5
Artist Spotlight: The Dry Heathens

Friday, Nov. 6
Artist Spotlight: Birds of Avalon

Saturday, Nov. 7
Artist Spotlight: The Love Language

Contributors: Billy Ball (BB), Rick Cornell (RC), Grayson Currin (GC), Spencer Griffith (SG), Brian Howe (BH), Bryan Reed (BR), Andrew Ritchey (AR), John Schacht (JS), Hunter Stephenson (HS), Chris Parker (CP), Chris Toenes (CT)