Our 10 Most Memorable Acts from LAUNCH Music Conference & Festival 2017

This past weekend Michelle and I attended LAUNCH Music Conference & Festival in Lancaster for the first time. In addition to getting great insight from music industry professionals, we met countless talented artists, most of which we had never discovered before this weekend. There was a great sense of community and open-mindedness amongst everyone at the conference. LAUNCH is a perfect environment for discovering and talking to upcoming artists of nearly every genre under the sun. In no particular order, here are ten of our favorite performances that we caught at LAUNCH: 

Dreamer & Son

Dreamer & Son are a powerful dream-rock outfit from Boston, and one of my favorite new discoveries from LAUNCH. I was was blown away by the band's engaging live show and unique blend of post-rock, pop, and melodic hardcore. They do an excellent job of balancing an intense, emotional and atmospheric sound with great hooks and a sharp pop sensibility. Lyrically, Dreamer & Son pens very moving lyrics discussing mental health and spreading much-needed awareness on the subject during their set. The band conjured every ounce of passion they had on the stage and their contagious energy had the crowd heavily engaged through the night. 

For fans of: Being As An Ocean, Hands Like Houses, Touche Amore --MD

J and the 9s

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, J and the 9s are an artistic punk band with a bite. Their live set started off with a technical hiccup but it was quickly erased from my mind as I was drawn into a powerful rock 'n' roll show. The way J weaves a bluesy flute through their songs is unlike anything I've heard. The band demands your attention with their stage presence in a way that is grandiose and intimate. Having toured Korea, Russia, and North America, this band is on the way to taking over the globe with their heavy and raw sound.  
For fans of: Led Zeppelin, Lady Gaga, Janis Joplin --MT

Entropy

PA natives Entropy were a great way to kick off our LAUNCH experience. Delivering a tight, chaotic, and energetic show to set the tone for the festival, Entropy boasts a raw, heavy rock/grunge sound with hints of prog and psychedelic rock. This dynamic group marries influences that span across many eras of rock music, while still sounding refreshing. 

For fans of: Smashing Pumpkins, Silversun Pickups, Brand New - MD

Stacked Like Pancakes

During a panel on Saturday morning,  Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman and Dave McWane of Big D and the Kids table had mentioned the resurgence of ska music and the importance of fresh new ska acts like Stacked Like Pancakes. The ska revival was real at LAUNCH, as the band had the large crowd dancing, skanking, and singing along into the night. Even with a late set time, after many attendees were wiped out, SLP lifted the crowd's spirits to a new level with one of the most genuinely fun sets of the weekend. With a quirky, humorous lyrics, an engaging live show, and memorable songwriting that fuses ska, punk, and pop, Stacked Like Pancakes are a refreshing up and coming band.  

For fans of: Patent Pending, Reel Big Fish, Twenty One Pilots - MD

Alex Brubaker

At one point, I remember feeling very tired and deciding it was a nice time to sit in the lobby. At that point in time, Alex Brubaker provided the ultimate soundtrack for a near meditative chance to just be. Brubaker uses an array of guitar pedals, finger tapping, and different lighting fixtures to create layers of ambiance. It was enjoyable to not only the musicians and industry professionals at LAUNCH but onlookers who were hotel guests. 
For fans of: Andy McKee, Explosions in the Sky, Chon -MT

Gutterlife

Long Island's own Gutterlife turned heads on Saturday night at LAUNCH with a passionate and energetic set. Their visceral yet melodic brand take on politically charged punk rock offers something unique to their genre, sonically and lyrically. It was a great moment to watch a band from my own hometown music scene kill it in in front of a crowd filled with new faces and music industry professionals. 

For fans of: Anti-Flag, I Am The Avalanche, Incendiary --MD

June Divided

Philadelphia's June Divided gathered an enthusiastic crowd at Binns Park on Friday. The band offers an atmospheric, dark, synth-heavy and hook-laden flavor of pop rock. The powerful vocals, strong melodies, and dense textures made them a stand out act amongst LAUNCH's eclectic lineup. 

For fans of: PVRIS, Muna, Love, Robot - MD

Bad Mary 

Championing in at the top of the nationwide leaderboard on the Ernie Ball Play Contest for Vans Warped Tour, Bad Mary is a punk band with a cult-like following. Their live set is spellbinding with intense movements. One of the more mesmerizing parts of every Bad Mary set is when they play "What I Want" and lead singer Amanda Mac folds over in half backwards. Although I can't count how many times I've seen this band from my hometown play on one hand, this set at LAUNCH was one of my favorites.  

For Fans of: Green Day, Blondie, The Clash - MT

justin Angelo 

Pennsylvania native singer-songwriter Justin Angelo radiates positive vibes. With only a guitar, his voice, and vocalizer, his music fills the air. While playing in the Penn Square Grill at the LAUNCH Music Conference, a fire alarm went off and everyone had to evacuate. This did not stop anyone from returning to hear the rest of his set when the fire department gave the blessing to go back in. From there Angelo used the opportunity to rearrange his set list to include his songs one of which included the lyric "the show must go on" and "On Fire."
For fans of: Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson - MT

Galactic Empire

As one of the top billed acts of LAUNCH 2017, Galactic Empire delivered one of most entertaining and elaborately produced live shows of the weekend. While some may write them off as a gimmick band, Galactic Empire treats the famous scores and motifs of the Star Wars franchise with great care, brilliantly arranging them into technical, guitar-centric, modern metal jams. Their set included Force choking audience members, Storm Troopers walking amongst the crowd, free lightsabers, Death Star beach balls, and a real marriage ceremony mid-set officiated by Lord Vader (yes, that happened). Galactic Empire's headlining show at Binns Park was a one that no one will forget, regardless of their affinity for Star Wars. 

For fans of: August Burns Red, John Williams - MD