In its inaugural year, the Light City Baltimore festival made a splash musically, featuring performances by local party-starters like Dan Deacon and TT the Artist, along with national names including Robert DeLong and DJ Jazzy Jeff.
Besides booking recognizable acts, festival organizers looked to offer a wide palette of genres and moods, from hip-hop and electronic dance music to funk-rock and classical. This year's festival — beginning Friday and running through April 8 throughout the Inner Harbor — aims to do the same.
With more than 30 scheduled artists spread across nine nights, it'll be tough to see them all. With that in mind, here are our picks of acts not to miss.
Super City (6-6:45 p.m. Friday, Hard Rock Café, 601 E. Pratt St.)
Started by Towson University alums Dan Ryan and Greg Wellham in 2013, this Baltimore indie-rock quintet has continued to refine and polish its danceable, guitar-driven pop tracks through touring and a 2015 album, "Again Weekend." Along the way, they've added some choreographed dance moves to their live show. But it's the tightly constructed writing — heard most recently on the December single "Artificial Sin" — that shines most.
Dirty Dozen Brass Band (9:30-11 p.m. Friday, Light Up the Night Concert & Performance Stage, Pratt and Light streets)
This year marks the 40th anniversary of this New Orleans funk institution, but this seven-piece band still brings a fresh, brimming energy brought to the stage each night. Recently seen and heard on NPR's Tiny Desk concert series, the group's celebratory combination of saxophones, trumpet, guitar, drums and a sousaphone (think a tuba directing its sound forward) sounds as joyous as ever. One of the best functions of a festival is the coming together of people, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band provides an ideal soundtrack for that.
Ama Chandra (8 p.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, Light Up the Night Concert & Performance Stage)
Baltimore soul singer Ama Chandra only started singing seriously within the past decade, but you wouldn't know it from her music, which nods to world rhythms, gospel and jazz. Chandra will perform songs from her upcoming album, "Kintsugi," that will touch on themes like love, hope and self-restoration. This is music meant to heal and enrich the soul.
Papadosio (9:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, Light Up the Night!Concert & Performance Stage)
This Asheville, N.C., quintet is a veteran of the jamtronica scene (a blending of jam-band sensibilities with electronic dance genres), but in recent years, it has tried to trim the excess from its typically sprawling albums. This weekend, fans will likely get a taste of both worlds, with songs that grab ears quickly and ones that take their time to unfurl into extended, improvised riffs. Papadosio's lush, synthetic sound should match easily with Light City's technology-forward aesthetic.
DJ Harvey Dent (5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday, Light Up the Night Concert & Performance Stage)
Along with DJs like 92Q's Jay Claxton (April 7) and Paradox regular DJ Biskit (Sunday), DJ Harvey Dent will spin records — new and old, from hip-hop and house to R&B and neo-soul — that should get the Light City crowd moving in a hurry. For more than 15 years, the Baltimore native has hyped up crowds for acts like Slick Rick and the Chuck Brown Band, so prepare to dance.
FAAME Emanuel (6:30 p.m.-7:15 p.m. April 7, Light Up the Night Concert & Performance Stage)
Another great function of festivals: Discovering an artist before he reaches his potential. That's the case with FAAME Emanuel, the Baltimore native and senior in the Baltimore School for the Arts Theatre Department who's already released full-length mixtapes like 2014's "Problem Child" and August's "Prom Night or the Party?" His latest single, "Me and Lil Shawty," is a catchy Bonnie-and-Clyde love track set to a "Grand Theft Auto"-inspired video. Keep an eye on him.
Biz Markie (10:30 p.m.-midnight April 7, Light Up the Night Concert & Performance Stage)
You know him for "Just a Friend," but don't call this hip-hop legend a one-hit wonder. Aside from acting in TV and movies and collaborating with artists like the Flaming Lips and Kesha, the multitalented Biz Markie has regularly toured in recent years as a DJ, bringing his '80s vs. '90s dance party to stages around the country. Expect big tunes, sing-alongs and Biz Markie's unmistakable, fun-loving persona.