The first edition of the First City Festival takes place this weekend in Monterey. But you shouldn't let the distance stop you: The fest has booked some very fine rock and indie-ish bands to play over three stages at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, and anyway, there are shuttles from S.F. In our never-ending quest to be useful, we've put together this handy list of the six bands we would not miss at First City Festival, plus a little sound sample from each. Check it out. (And if you still want to go to First City but haven't made arrangements, tickets are available.)
6. Purity Ring
Purity Ring is a Canadian duo that makes elegiac, glacial electronic music. Sometimes poppy, often unsettling, Purity Ring won a lot of acclaim for its debut album, Shrines, and deservedly so: It occupies a fascinating space between electronica, pop, and R&B. Sunday, Cypress Stage, 8:30 p.m.
5. Father John Misty
What kind of a weirdo quits the Fleet Foxes to go out on his own? A smart, talented, supremely self-confident one. Joshua Tillman's solo material as Father John Misty doesn't exactly blow up the Foxes' beardo-Americana formula, but does add a much-needed dose of weirdness and humor. Saturday, Cypress Stage, 5:55 p.m.
Bradford Cox's noisy, pop-obsessed rock band doesn't always put on the most easily digestible shows -- in fact, it puts on some of the weirdest. But look beyond the dresses and the downward stares, and Deerhunter plays some of the most captivatingly damaged garage-rock around. Sunday, Cypress Stage, 7:10 p.m.
3. Toro y Moi
Despite his association with that much-maligned subgenre chillwave, Chaz Bundick's dance-pop band puts on rousing performances, with throbbing bass and head-nodding keyboard/synth lines. Toro y Moi's latest album, Anything in Return, is its best yet, making Bundick and Co. a required festival experience wherever they show up. Sunday, Redwood Stage, 6:25 p.m.
2. The Hold Steady
Arguably the most literate band to come out of the mid-2000s Brooklyn scene, the Hold Steady preside over one of the most self-referential, fascinating catalogs in modern guitar music. Also, one of the most bruising: Craig Finn's band never lets a clever lyric get in the way of its hard-boiled bar-rock. Saturday, Redwood stage, 4 p.m.
1. Neko Case
A solo star and sometime-member of the New Pornographers, Neko Case is one of the most fiercely talented singer-songwriters out there. Her new album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, looks like it could be one of her best. Check out first single "Night Still Comes," above. Sunday, Redwood Stage, 7:45 p.m.