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Created by the same people who do Bonnaroo, Big Ears is intended to showcase more offbeat collection of artists. The festival is spread over ten or so venues in beautiful downtown Knoxville that range from beautiful historic theaters (two different ones!) to grungy dive bars to utilitarian rock clubs. In this, the second year of the festival, they have added some more accessible artists to the mix, with performers like Vampire Weekend and St Vincent rubbing shoulders with legendary composer Terry Riley (the “artist in residence” of the whole affair), venerable postpunk band the Ex (complete with new singer) and abstract musicians like William Basinski. Collaborations are a big focus of the festival, with people like Sufjan Stevens appearing on stage several times with different acts, and improvisational sets by Tim Hecker/Ben Frost and DJ Rupture/Andy Moor, and classical music performance by Andrew WK and Calder Quartet… not to mention Terry Riley with seemingly EVERYBODY. There was even a comedic (I think/hope) performance from visionary drummer “Jens Hannemann” (in reality SNL comedian Fred Armisen) showing off his “Complicated Drumming Technique”. Add in sets from buzz bands like the XX and it was a pretty full weekend…

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Follow him at: http://joshsisk.com or @joshsisk
To learn more about Big Ears: http://www.bigearsfestival.com/