Troika Music Festival unveiled the first draft of its schedule for its three November days of music in Durham this morning, and it looks like organizers have landed on the most closely curated pool of bands and bills since the festival's inception in 2002: All told, 71 acts will spread over eight venues (two of which remain unannounced) Nov. 5-7, and no more than four bands will play any venue on any night. In other words, lots of great bands will get ample set times.
Troika 2009 will begin with a centralized outdoor show on Thursday, Nov. 5, featuring the equally but divergent eclectic The Beast and Megafaun. Four sets of four bands then head indoors to four venues—one unannounced, The Pinhook, Duke Coffeehouse and Broad Street Cafe. For a measure of this year's quality, note that Bowerbirds, Max Indian, Future Islands and The Moaners headline their respective venues. Now there's a Versus to get excited about.
Night Two does raises the stakes on tough choices, stacking Hammer No More the Fingers against Caltrop against Whatever Brains against Embarrassing Fruits; the last half of a headlining The Love Language set against the first half of night-capping sets by Birds of Avalon, Pipe and Beloved Binge; the guitar-pop of Wembley against that of The Huguenots.
Day three opens in the afternoon with early sets by Tin Star and Mount Moriah at an "Indie Art Fair" at Duke Coffeehouse. The shows soldier into the night with Pistil and Butterflies at Bull McCabe's after midnight. And between those poles, heavy hitters like The Loners and Dex Romweber Duo meet at Broad Street Cafe. Lonnie Walker and Veelee stretch the pop game out at Duke Coffeehouse, and Gray Young and Citified add electricity to the atmosphere at The Pinhook.
Aside from the sensible scheduling from one end of the festival to the other, two important things stand out about these bills: The tiny smattering of bands not from the Triangle but playing Troika is as small as it's ever been, and that seems to benefit what's up for listening. There are no big rooms hosting bands with high guarantees, either. Remember, last year, there was some controversy regarding The Rosebuds' headlining set and how expensive it and the Carolina Theatre digs were for Troika. This year, it's hard to anticipate a parallel.