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Photograph: Josi Hoffmann

5 emerging acts you’ve got to see at a music festival in 2023

From country pop to hardcore, there’s something for all tastes

Georgia Evans
Written by
Georgia Evans

Festival season is well and truly here. You’ve bought your tickets, you know your headliners and you’ve sorted out some kind of ironic costume (most likely a onesie) for the last night of music. But instead of just lazing around a campsite, accruing various stages of sunburn and listening to your neighbour’s non-stop – and quite frankly, terrible – playlist of heavy drum ‘n’ bass, get yourself up and dance to these acts. Because you never know, they might just be the next big thing. These musicians have at least three major festivals booked for summer, have already garnered cult-like status and are definitely set to impress. And really, is there anything better than bragging, ‘I saw them before they got big’? We think not. 

1. CMAT 

Photograph: Sarah Doyle

Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, aka CMAT, is an Irish singer-songwriter who channels the essence of Nashville into her tongue-in-cheek country-pop tunes. Her tacky glam aesthetic is a fun contrast to the seriousness of her songwriting, with lyrics that are mournful, accessible and emotionally literate in a way that’s ever so charming. Also, if you wanted an excuse to pack one of those pink cowboy hats with a plastic crown, this could be as good as you’re going to get. Yee-haw.

Key track: I Wanna Be a Cowboy, Baby!

Where to see them: South Facing, Isle of Wight, Bluedot

2. High Vis 

A band sitting on a bench outside
Photograph: James Edson

If there’s one word to describe High Vis, it would be hardcore: like Turnstile, PiL and Stone Roses all whizzed up in a blender and thrown on stage. So, if you’re craving a mosh pit, they’ll most likely provide one. Frontman Graham Sayle was born under Thatcher’s Tory government in Merseyside, which fuels his old-school punk attitude to songwriting. Expect to hear lyrics like: ‘I’ve known this lot for too many years / We’re not driven by hate, we’re just slaves to fear.’ That’ll cure a hangover, right?

Key track: Trauma Bonds

Where to see them: Reading, Latitude, Outbreak

3. Yunè Pinku 

 Yune Pinko
Photograph: Yune Pinko

Your new favourite DJ and producer Yuné Pinku blends sugary-sweet vocals with UK rave-inspired beats somewhere between classic garage and experimental house. She’s previously described her music as being for ‘introverted ravers’, thanks to her beginnings as a bedroom-pop star. Nowadays, she’s doing guest mixes for The Blessed Madonna and Joy Orbison and bringing her multi-layered club sounds to festival fields across the country. 

Key track: Night Light

Where to see them: End of the Road, The Great Escape, Pitchfork Music Festival

4. Panic Shack 

Four girls looking at the camera eating a baguette
Photograph: Sian Adler

One of the wildest, most fun punk bands you’ll ever see live. No, really: their songs centre around the ‘ick’, missing Clipper lighters and meal deals. Their energy on stage is infectious, with the four-piece’s genuine friendship radiating through their improvised shredding. They’re one of this year’s hotly tipped bands and are already selling out venues across the UK, so don’t miss the chance to see them while you can. 

Key track: The Ick

Where to see them: End of the Road, Kendal Calling, Live in Leeds

5. Yazmin Lacey 

Yazmin Lacey
Photograph: Yazmin Lacey

The Nottingham-based artist has been praised for her fresh take on British jazz, delicately scattering elements of soul and electronica into rich melodies. Lacey’s debut album ‘Voice Notes’ has been widely praised, not only for its interesting instrumental arrangements but also her introspective lyricism drawn from snippets of voice memos and journal entries. It’s sure to be a comforting experience that’ll make you forget all about the night before.

Key track: Bad Company

Where to see them: We Out Here, Gottwood, Forwards Bristol

Read more: The 41 best music festivals to book for 2023.

Plus: The tyranny of the talk tent – why music festivals are getting nerdier.

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