Hear & NowMusic

11 Local Acts to Catch at Lovin’ Life Music Festival

A small selection of Charlotte artists and bands performing live at the three-day fest

a portrait of a local choir and music group, Sainted
SAINTED Trap Choir will perform at Lovin’ Life Music Fest on May 5. (Photo by Joe Schmelzer)

When Charlotte-based Southern Entertainment first announced Lovin’ Life Music Fest would be happening in the Queen City from May 3-5, a lot of music fans wondered who would be on the lineup and how many of those bands might be local. After all, if you’re going to represent for Charlotte, you should truly represent.

It didn’t take long before organizers announced that there would be a local stage, with a search for area artists to help fill the time slots. So, while there will be plenty of eyes on the headliners — Post Malone, Stevie Nicks and Noah Kahan — as well as other national acts like Maggie Rogers, Dominic Fike, Young the Giant and The Beach Boys, those in attendance should pay attention to the all the locals helping put Charlotte and the surrounding area on the map for more than just one weekend.

With more than 40 artists performing at First Ward Park over the course of three days, it’s not easy to narrow down which acts to catch and which acts are worth skipping. Assuming that there are spaces in your schedule where you don’t quite know who to see, it’s good to have an idea of who’s playing.

So, here’s a quick rundown of some artists you should keep an eye (and ear) out for this during the three-day festival.


The Avett Brothers

Sat. May 4 | 6:45 – 8:15 p.m. | Northwood Ravin Stage

Sure, the Avetts have been a nationally touring act for years, but they never fail to bring the spirit of the Carolinas everywhere they go. Concord’s finest will take the stage just one week before kicking off their national tour. It’s the first time the band will perform music from its new, self-titled album that’s due out on May 17.

a portrait of The Avett Brothers wearing suits
The Avett Brothers will perform at Lovin’ Life Music Fest on May 4. (Photo by Crackerfarm) 

The Avetts have already released two songs from the album: “Love of a Girl” and “Country Kid,” and if you haven’t seen the video for the latter, filmed at Frye’s Skating Rink in Concord, be sure to check it out. The only question is, why aren’t they headlining one of the main stages?


Biking With Francis

Sun. May 5 | 6:30 – 7 p.m. | Music Everywhere CLT Stage

Officially formed in 2022 before releasing their debut EP Honeydew in 2023, Biking With Francis describes their music as “combining the lushness of indie and bedroom pop with the bite of hip-hop influence to create a uniquely contagious sound.”

A portrait of a local pop-indie band from Charlotte
Biking with Francis will perform at Lovin’ Life Music Fest on May 5. (Photo by Alix Pitney)

Fans of artists like Tyler, the Creator and Brockhampton, will appreciate the amalgam of ‘70s pop and hip-hop lyrical stylings. It’s music that doesn’t have to be perfectly produced or presented because the vibe and energy comes through so strongly. The band released a second EP, Brunette, this year. Catch their late-day set for the perfect wind-down of the weekend.


Natalie Carr

Sat. May 4 | 6:30 – 7 p.m. | Music Everywhere CLT Stage

Blending elements of pop and R&B music, Natalie Carr has grown a substantial following in Charlotte over the last few years. Her diligent work ethic, onstage charisma and vocal sensibilities merge together to command the attention she’s been focused on building.

a portrait of Natalie Carr with a bright green brick background
Natalie Carr will perform at Lovin’ Life Music Fest on May 4. (Photo by Josh Rob Thomas)

Her music has just enough elements of a variety of genres to appeal to a mass audience. It’s no surprise that’s she’s been working with some of Charlotte’s best musicians in her backing band.

Read more: Natalie Carr Charts a Course for Success on Her Own Terms (2021)


DaBaby

Fri. May 3 | 7 – 8 p.m. | Northwood Ravin Stage 

Charlotte-based rapper DaBaby was set to headline shows and festivals across the country when his plans were derailed by homophobic comments he made at Rolling Loud in 2021. Over the last three years, he’s focused on touring overseas and slowly building back his profile in the States. Time will tell if his attitude toward others have changed, but this is DaBaby’s first hometown show in quite some time. At one time regarded as one of the hottest new rappers on the scene, it will be interesting to see if DaBaby can restore the shine to his career.


Deaf Andrews

Fri. May 3 | 2 – 2:30 p.m. | Music Everywhere CLT Stage

What happens when five best friends get together to craft a bunch of indie pop-rock? The result is the light and airy stylings of Deaf Andrews. The band is still getting its footing in the Charlotte music scene, but their songs are catchy enough to take note. The group’s lyrics spotlight feelings of love, recklessness and comfort while the music teeters between upbeat playfulness and more introspective lulls.

The quintet bounces between genres within songs but in a way that works well, taking the listener on unexpected journeys.


Stefan Kallender and House of Funk

Sat. May 4 | 3 – 3:30 p.m. | Music Everywhere CLT Stage

Guitarist Stefan Kallander has been a fixture in the Charlotte music scene for … well, maybe longer than he’d like to admit. A member of Queen City funk outfit Bubonik Funk, Kallander started the House of Funk as more of a funk-driven house band for the city back in 2019. The group creates original grooves and mixes in funk classics and has been enjoying a residency at Middle C Jazz, welcoming a variety of the city’s finest musicians to join them from time to time. There’s no telling who might pop up on the festival stage, but you’ll enjoy the grooves regardless.


Modern Alibi

Sat. May 4 | 8:30 – 9 p.m. | Music Everywhere CLT Stage

Indie-rock outfit Modern Alibi has steadily built a solid fanbase in the Queen City for the past three years. Originally started as a solo project for singer Holden Scott, the quartet merges heavy grooves and vintage rock guitar riffs with rich vocal tones in the vein of Arctic Monkeys.

a portrait of Modern Alibi
Modern Alibi will perform at Lovin’ Life Music Fest on May 4. (Photo by Brandon Burdette)

The quartet’s combined stage presence chemistry and charisma has made them a force to be reckoned with on the local music scene. Getting a primetime Saturday night slot is well-deserved, and not bad for a band that’s only released one EP.

Read more: Alt-Rockers Modern Alibi Store Memories in the Groove (2024)


Oceanic

Sat. May 4 | 4 – 4:30 p.m. | Music Everywhere CLT Stage

Versatile indie-pop trio Oceanic has grown not only their Queen City fanbase over the last few years, they’re also getting national attention after sharing stages with COIN and Vacation Manor. Their pop spirit is at the forefront while the guitar playfully creates rhythms and soundscapes and the vocals find their way between straightforward presentations and falsetto daydreams.

The band works hard to incorporate their performing arts backgrounds into their live show with enthusiastic experiences. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Read more: Indie Pop Band Oceanic Gets More Introspective as They Grow (2022)


Petrov

Sun. May 5 | 4 – 4:30 p.m. | Music Everywhere CLT Stage

It wasn’t that long ago, 2020 to be exact, that Petrov won Queen City Nerve’s Best in the Nest award for Best Pop-Punk Band. The band has continued to garner praise in the years since, and rightfully so, from features on WFAE and NPR to a spot at the Hopscotch Music Festival and now Lovin’ Life.

a portrait of Petrov on the front steps of a porch
Petrov will perform at Lovin’ Life Music Fest on May 5. (Courtesy of Petrov)

Petrov’s churning melodies are balanced by the lyrics belted out by singer Mary Grace McKusick. They’ve released two EPs, Flower Bed and Sleep Year, on Charlotte’s own Self Aware Records.

Read more: Petrov Takes Center Stage in Charlotte’s Indie Rock Scene (2021)


SAINTED Trap Choir

Sun. May 5 | 3 – 3:30 p.m. | Northwood Ravin Stage

SAINTED Trap Choir, led by DJ Fannie Mae and Grammy-winner Dennis Reed Jr., hit the national scene hard while competing on America’s Got Talent, where they were semi-finalists before returning in the Fantasy League spin-off.

The innovative group has performed with a number of national artists, including Alicia Keys, Sara Bareilles and Janelle Monae. The choir performs a variety of hip-hop, soul and pop songs (“Like a Prayer,” “Purple Rain,” “Hot In Here,” “Return on the Mack”) while incorporating choreographed dancing to create a new depth and energy in choral music.

Read more: Dennis Reed, DJ Fannie Mae Bring SAINTED Trap Choir to the National Stage (2023)


Southside Watt

Sat. May 4 | 2 – 2:30 p.m. | Northwood Ravin Stage

Some might refer to Southside Watt as a roots-rock band, but there’s more to it than that. Some tunes lean country, some lean folk, some offer twinges of rock. The combination is quick to gain attention. For a band that had its first gig before it was really a band, and then got booked consistently by accident before they even had the name Southside Watt, it’s been fun to watch the quintet solidify their sound and truly become a band worth listening to.

a black and white portrait of Southside Watt
Southside Watt will perform at Lovin’ Life Music Fest on May 4. (Courtesy of Southside Watt)

Music festivals are a great way to see some of your favorite artists in a short span of time while also providing an opportunity to check out those bands you’ve never heard, or heard of. The artists listed above are less than a dozen of the more than 40 artists performing over the course of three days.

Take the time to plot out your schedule of all those bands you don’t want to miss, but leave room to fill in some of the blanks and wander around to give all those other artists a chance. You might just find your next favorite artist.

Read more: The Chain Reaction That Led to the Birth of Southside Watt


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