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Ten acts to catch among Intersect fest’s impressive first-year offerings

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Weyes Blood performs Friday night at Intersect.
Photo: Eliot Lee Hazel

Festival season is usually over by now, but this year's inaugural Intersect festival does things a little differently. Presented by Amazon Web Services, Intersect will brings more than 30 electronic, hip-hop and rock artists—including headliners Kacey Musgraves, Beck, Foo Fighters and Anderson .Paak—to town December 6 and 7, along with a swath of interactive experiences (post-apocalyptic dodge ball, anyone?). The event's Las Vegas Festival Grounds footprint will cover 1 million square feet, covered with art, food and tech-forward spectacles featuring 3D visuals, drones and more. Here are 10 music acts we suggest you don't miss.

FRIDAY

Weyes Blood (7:15 p.m., the Dome) Natalie Mering captivates audiences with her own update of classic folk, and her latest album, Titanic Rising, has been one of the most heralded records of 2019. Named after Flannery O'Connor's debut novel, Weyes Blood also brings an intimate and witty charm to her sets. Combine that with her iconic voice and talented backing band, and Mering's Intersect performance shouldn't be over looked.

Tokimonsta (7:15 p.m., Infinity stage) Electronic music and instrumental hip-hop producer Jennifer Lee was featured on the music episode of the Netflix documentary series Explained after being diagnosed with a rare brain disease in 2015. She lost her ability to understand music and language, but she has since made a full recovery and continues to make incandescent, mood-setting music. Hear tracks "Realla" and "Don't Call Me" for a glimpse into the DJ's repertoire.

Gessafelstein (10:30 p.m., Infinity stage) Electronic music fans should find a lot to love about this French DJ, who burst onto the scene with debut LP Variations in 2010. Born Mike Lévy, Gessafelstein combines industrial, techno, house and electro sounds to create music that invokes the nostalgia of '90s raves and warehouse parties and the dark, cybersurrealism that set the vibe for cult classics like Blade Runner and The Matrix. His live show incorporates light-absorbing Vantablack VBx2 material, often described as the darkest black known to man. Vinyl pants and black mesh shirts are encouraged.

Kelsey Lu (8:30 p.m., the Dome) The cellist and singer's evocative, heart-wrenching song "I'm Not in Love" demonstrates how the songwriter pushes the envelope even within the genre of avant-garde pop. Combining vast soundscapes and textures with hypnotic vocals and deep cello arrangements, Lu brings a unique voice to an Intersect lineup stacked with interesting artists.

Sophie (9:45 p.m., the Dome) The Scottish producer and singer has co-produced songs with Madonna, Charlie XCX and Kim Petras, but she's also a distinguished pop artist in her own right. Sophie has a penchant for left-of-center arrangements that create sparkling—and sometimes ear-rattling—soundscapes large enough for dancefloors ("Ponyboy") yet poignant enough for headphones (2017 single "It's Okay to Cry").

SATURDAY

Japanese Breakfast (4:30 p.m., Supernova stage) Singer and guitarist Michelle Zauner earned numerous music-pub accolades for 2017 LP Soft Sounds From Another Planet, whose atmospheric, shoegaze sounds and poppy undertones recall greats like Slowdive and the Cocteau Twins. This year has seen Japanese Breakfast release two singles, "Head Over Heels" and "Essentially," the former a somber Tears for Fears cover

and the latter built around icy synths and a New Wave-inspired drum beat. If you missed her sold-out Vegas show last summer, now's your chance to atone.

Leon Bridges (5:45 p.m., Supernova stage) The Texan's debut album, Coming Home, earned a 2016 Grammy nom for Best R&B Album, and the title track landed a spot among Spotify's 10 Most Viral Tracks that same year. Motown and Sun Records fans should dig Bridges' throwback neo-soul style, which also brings in elements of folk and Americana. Hear tracks "Beyond" and "River" before taking in the singer/guitarist's live set.

Thundercat (6:45 p.m., Infinity stage) The funky, quirky bassline in "Them Changes" from 2017 LP Drunk is as memorable as the cover adorning the album. Born Stephen Bruner, the bassist and singer has played on records by Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus (Bruner's 2011 debut The Golden Age of Apocalypse was released on FlyLo's Brainfeeder imprint); he was also a member of California punk band Suicidal Tendencies. Catch Bruner's enigmatic, shape-shifting energy on Intersect's second day.

Flying Lotus (9:45 p.m., Infinity stage) Steven Ellison is a producer, rapper, DJ, filmmaker, instrumentalist and the mind behind record label Brainfeeder. He's also the grand nephew of late jazz greats John and Alice Coltrane. It's no huge surprise, then, that FlyLo has pushed the boundaries of electronic music and hip-hop, since bringing his experimental style to the fore in 2007. In 2017, he directed the horror comedy Kuso and took his live 3D show on a world tour. Expect the unexpected from this atmospheric creator during his 3D Intersect performance.

Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals (8:40 p.m., Super-nova stage) The singer and rapper has been making jazzy, soulful albums since 2012, and his stand-alone track "Bubblin'" snagged the Grammy for Best Rap Performance earlier this year. Live, .Paak is backed by his traveling band, The Free Nationals, but the singer also plays drums, keyboards and other percussion instruments. He released his fourth studio album, Ventura, in April featuring guest spots from André 3000, Smokey Robinson and late rapper Nate Dogg.

INTERSECT December 6-7, 3 p.m.-12:30 a.m., $99/day, $169-$549/two-day. Las Vegas Festival Grounds, intersect.aws.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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