If The A.V. Club’s Undercover series helped distinguish the culture-parsing pup from its news-parodying parent, The Onion, then this upstart festival can be seen as the next logical step. A.V. Fest isn’t nearly as eclectic as the Hideout Block Party or as fad-chasing as the Pitchfork Music Festival, instead appealing to a select demographic more than happy to indulge in ’90s indie-rock nostalgia.
Headliner Hum has made the most of an unlikely reunion since a Cadillac commercial reinvigorated its career a few years back. The Champaign vet’s signature distortion crunch and cascading riffs top day one. Leading up are the Thermals, a peppy contrast to local fave Disappears, beckoning black clouds with their dark blend of throbbing psych and krautrock. That makes Eef Barzelay’s set easily the strangest of the weekend, reprising his Undercover take on “Faithfully” with an entire set of Journey covers. On ukulele. While it might seem odd that he’d sidestep his Clem Snide catalog, think of it this way: It’s bound to be stronger than Cee Lo doing “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
If Archers of Loaf’s July run at the Bottom Lounge was any indication, the reignited Chapel Hill outfit is poised to deliver the most animated set of the weekend, as bassist Matt Gentling whips both himself and rabid fans of the slacker-rock pioneer into a pogo-ing frenzy. Setting the stage are two acts that help bring down the median age: Tokyo Police Club and Telekinesis. More than summer’s last hurrah, A.V. Fest is the one place where your beyond-battered One Stars can be worn as a badge of honor.