Austin – One of the biggest names in music festivals is getting bigger this year, growing to a second weekend to accommodate a larger lineup, and, maybe more importantly, a larger crowd. Austin City Limits presents a mix of pop music’s biggest new names and some welcome reunions (Outkast and The Replacements? My mind has been read. A wizard may have put together this lineup.) along with many great, new indie bands.
But even a reunited Outkast isn’t worth the $400 tickets/spinal contusion from three nights spent on the floor of a friend’s friend’s apartment. But there are plenty of great acts, many of them on their way to top billing at future shows. This is my top five. All of them play both weekends, so you’ve got a chance to catch them regardless of which ticket you have. (Photo: Bleachers by Jack Edinger)
After two years of refinement since their first EP, The Preatures have developed a sound that’s distinctive, broad, and compelling. Their songs render a broad collection of musical sources with a tight production, fully voicing a range of sounds from indie pop to country to disco, nearly always with hefty bass and hopscotch rhythm. It’s a rare case where the vagueness of the phrase rock and roll is the best description for a band, and not just a wastebasket taxon for anyone with a guitar and an amp. Their ACL appearance comes just a week after the release of their new album, Blue Planet Eyes, which I recently reviewed for Best New Bands.
Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, aka Troy from Community, might hold a world record for getting people to say “That dude raps?” It’s between him and Joaquin Phoenix. Unlike Joaquin’s intricate prank, and the unfortunate punchline of a movie that followed, Gambino’s shift from acting to rapping worked out fairly well. And unlike the sometimes maligned Drake, his other life has a solid place in his music.
Gambino’s latest record, last year’s Because The Internet, charmed audiences with sleepy vocal delivery, and up-front dorkiness evident in lines like “I got more tail than that PetCo”, but the songs win on the strength of the production, a collaboration between Glover and long-time partner Ludwig Göransson. (Photo By Sarah Hess)
This Danish singer’s debut album, No Mythologies to Follow, came out in March, anticipated by a year’s worth of hype and bidding, and a handful of promising singles. Our review called her “a rising pop star.” She also got a handy boost from collaborations with big timers Avicii and Diplo. If you muted the sound on video for early single “Glass” you would probably get the sense of an artist enamored of Grimes. Which probably isn’t wrong, actually. With the volume up, Mø’s personality becomes apparent, with beats and synthetic handclaps courtesy of hip-hop, liquid guitar melodies, and a love of horn and brass samples. (Photo By Sarah Hess)
CHVRCHES almost didn’t make this list. Not because they aren’t good, or new. But, I think you’ve probably heard already. (In fact, they won our 2013 Newbie Award for Best New Band.) The Scottish band has coasted to near-top billing with the heart-wrenching single “The Mother We Share” and a subsequent album that charted in the US, UK, Australia, and Japan. They play on the big stage at 5:00 both weekends; you’ll know where to find them. (Photo By Sarah Hess)
This young Brooklyn band has just an EP and a few singles to their name, but they’ve toured with Washed Out (who we’ve covered before) and Atlas Genius. Haerts’ music fits in with the 80’s revivalism that informs some of their tour mates, with Toto-esque production on “Call My Name” and “Music.” If that doesn’t sound like a strong pitch, just listen below.
ACL’s expanded weekends continues October 10-12.