The Night Lights Music Festival started seven years ago as a two-day romp in the woods with friends and family. What began with less than 100 attendees, a dozen bands, one stage, and 10 hours of music spread over two days has now grown into a three-day event featuring over 30 bands over three stages and 36 hours of live music. This year, the event will return to The Heron, a music venue and organic farm in Sherman, NY, from August 24th through 26th. The woods surrounding the festival’s three stages are lit by a variety of LED installations, and the walk between the venue’s Main Stage and Café stages is truly an enchanted jaunt. The event continues to be owned operated by the same small group of friends that simply want to bring an end of the summer party to their friends. Long time attendee Tom Sgrio explained, “I think it’s more of a homecoming festival. It’s really the close of the local season to me and it’s great. Like a big family reunion.”This year’s festival is anchored by a diverse line-up with a unique variety of music and tribute sets. It goes without saying that you won’t want to miss this year’s headliners space-rock masters Papadosio, who will be playing the event’s main stage, neatly centered under a huge patch of open night sky during the festival’s “Space Disco” theme night. Electronic, funk, rock fusion outfit Dopapod will be returning to Night Lights after playing the event in 2014. But beyond the headliners, here are eleven artists at Night Lights 2017 that you won’t want to miss this year!Aqueous In 2016, the Buffalo groove rockers Aqueous played 115 shows across the greater United States. Their hard work seems to be paying off, with 2017 seeing Aqueous support Umphrey’s McGee and Twiddle on tour, while maintaining their own jam-packed tour schedule, which included stops at Summer Camp, Peach Fest, and Disc Jam. 2017 will mark Aqueous’ fifth straight appearance on the festival’s line-up. The Heron is centrally located between Buffalo, NY and Erie, PA, two of the band’s proudest fan bases. With a high energy crowd and the band often digging deep into their catalog with unexpected breakouts, Night Lights is premiere time to experience the Aqueous Live Show. Brandon Barnhardt from Dansville, NY explained, “They play like they are comfortable. Like they are home.” Check out Aqueous in one of three sets including a special “AQoustic” on the venue’s cozy Café Stage. [Video: AqueousBand]Mihali SavoulidisUnless you live in the greater Burlington area, until recently, you really haven’t had the chance to see Twiddle frontman Mihali Savoulidis perform solo or with his side projects Gubbulidis or Mihali and Frends. Now, after a handful of solo dates already in 2017, Savoulidis will serve as the festival’s first-ever Artist at Large and showcase his skills over course of the weekend while working with a laundry list of former tour mates. Papadosio, Dopapod, Aqueous, Mister F, and Jimkata have all worked together over the past several years, setting up a plethora of weekend possibilities. The weekend’s Mihali and Frends (SIC) set will bring together some of Mihali’s favorite musical “frends” for a mix of Twiddle songs, covers, and improv jams. Each Mihali and Frends set is generally as varied as the musicians performing with him. Exactly who will be involved in the set is currently a well-guarded secret. The festival will make an announcement in the next few weeks. [Video: gort81]SunSquabiColorado live electronic trio SunSquabi is having a banner year in 2017. Their “Electronic Hydro Funk experience” has landed them on some major line-ups this summer including Electric Forest, Summer Camp, Camp Bisco, and High Sierra. They are quickly becoming one of the premier up-and-coming acts in the live electronic jam world. Their two debut EP’s Deluxe and Odyssey feature a variety of heavy hitters including GRiZ, Dominic Lalli (Big Gigantic), Russ Liquid, Nick Gerlach (Turbo Suit), and Late Night Radio, proving that SunSquabi is respected by their peers along with their growing fan base. The band recently opened in support of Papadosio at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater this past May. [Video: SunSquabi]The Bright Light Social HourThe Bright Light Social Hour is an American psychedelic rock band from Austin, TX. The four piece released their self-titled debut album in 2010 and, in March 2011, swept the 29th Annual Austin Music Awards during SXSW, with an unprecedented six awards, including Band of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year. The band doesn’t get to the Northeastern United States often, with a tour schedule that keeps them close to the Western United States, which makes The Bright Light Social Hour a must-see set at Night Lights. Check out why their complex musical structures, social commentary, tinges of Southern Rock, and high energy performances make them a hallmark of the competitive Austin music scene.[Video: The Bright Light Social Hour]MungionChicago four-piece, Mungion, is riding an incredible wave of buzz in 2017. Formed in 2015, Mungion is a young band with sheer technical skill. They combine elements of rock, jam, groove, and funk into live shows that are rich with musical storytelling. The band enjoyed several sold out shows with Spafford in Spring 2017 and continues to turn heads at several summer festivals. Based on Night Light’s history of bands producing creative, mind-bending sets, Mungion’s set this year is among the “be there” moments at this year’s festivals. [Video: Mungion Band]Mister F – The Game Genie SetThe Mister F “Game Genie” set at this year’s Night Lights Music Festival is a lifelong dream for Mister F keyboardist Scott Hannay. As a kid, Hannay taught himself to play by ear by hammering out 8-bit video game music on the family’s piano. Now, Hannay recreates some of his favorite bands including Twiddle, Dopapod, Aqueous, and lespecial into 8-bit tunes (check out his Soundcloud page.) The Albany four-piece will be weaving 8-bit video game classics amongst their own musical catalog. With the wide variety of 8-bit options, anything is possible as Mister F debuts this specialty set. Hannay wouldn’t give away the weekend’s pending secrets but did promise at least one or two sit-ins during their set. Check out this clip of Mister F performing music from Super Mario Bros. 64 this past January at the Hollow in Albany. Boss Tweed and the CarpetbaggersNot much is known about the mysterious origins of this indescribable trio. However, some local music fans swear that the masked musicians seem vaguely familiar. Wearing only Lucha Libre Wrestling masks and jorts, the band’s onstage antics feel part 13-year-old boy in the basement, part internet troll. No one knows what will happen during a Boss Tweed and the Carpetbaggers performance, not even the band themselves. But fans of the band will tell you once you see the Carpetbaggers, your entire life changes. The band doesn’t perform often. Jimmy Thompson of Falconer, NY, a die-hard Carpetbagger enthusiast, is planning on hyping the band’s set through Boss Tweed style tactics, noting “I plan on telling people what I know they want to hear, to lure them to the stage. Once there, much like ‘Hotel California’, they will never be able to leave.”This video contains adult language and images.[Video: Nick Sonricker] Intrepid TravelersWestern New Yorkers are well in the know about the Intrepid Travelers. “IT” has only been together since 2013, but they already have been turning heads around the country. They have launched multiple full-length tours throughout the Northeast, Midwest and the Rocky Mountain regions of the United States. Much like Aqueous, the band’s fanbase in WNY is strong, so catching a set at Night Lights will be packed with power and energy. Look for the Intrepid Travelers and their creative mix of funk, jazz, and psychedelic rock to make a strong showing on the festival scene over the next year. Fellow WNY musician Ellen Pieroni (Folkfaces) noted that the band’s appeal is their ever-changing repertoire. “I’ve never see the same show twice,” she said, “They might take you to church. Or they might take you to space. True improvisation by talented young musicians.”[Video: Intrepid Travelers]AircraftThere are only a handful of bands that have played the festival every year since the festival started in 2011. Buffalo-based psychedelic indie art-rock band Aircraft is one of them. The band weaves spacy sounds and layered vocal harmonies with surf rock style hooks, combining into a finished sound that is uniquely Aircraft. Aircraft stays close to their roots, opting for smaller art-house venues and indie festivals, which makes them an unexpected continued tradition at Night Lights. You’ll leave the band’s set wondering why you don’t see this quirky four-piece at more festivals around the Northeast.[Video: Aircraft Band]Holy Hand GrenadeThis Brooklyn-based new music collective is “inspired by world-grooves and memorable melodies.” Holy Hand Grenade’s sultry mix of jazz, soul, hip hop, and funk is led by saxophonist and teaching artist Lynn Ligammari. Known for her versatility, Ligammari has played with a number of diverse artist at a variety of venues including the Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Carnegie Hall, NPR, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, America’s Got Talent, The Newport Jazz Festival, the Rochester Jazz Festival and Summerstage. [Video: Lynn Ligammari]Neon VeinsImagine your delusional but musically hip uncle combining rare cuts and booty-shaking favorites as you and your friends rage late night at your favorite music festival. Neon Veins aka Joe Urge aka Jorge the Impaler, a longtime mixologist (both beats and booze) is a name in WNY synonymous with a dance party. For the Night Lights Family, he’s literally the last thing you hear before packing up and going home to settle in for the fall and winter. Enjoy the late-night dance party as Neon Veins will literally keep it going until Sunday sunrise or until they cut off his supply of electricity. [Video: strawberryIsland Dweller]Night Lights 2017 is set to take place August 24-26 in Sherman, NY. Get tickets and more info here.