If you were in Austin this weekend, count yourself #blessed. Skies were blue, breeze was blowing, and, oh yeah, there was some festival in town. For those who don’t know, Austin City Limits is actually a beloved show on KLRU, our local public broadcast station, that hosts concerts throughout the year at Moody Theater downtown. (Fun fact, there is a Willie Nelson statue in front of the theater, and on his birthday he gets covered in leis). Austin City Limits Festival began in 2002, and has grown to the point that now it hosts 75,000 attendees per day. Expanded to two weekends, the event hosts over 130 bands on 45-acre Zilker Park near downtown Austin. Weekend one has just finished but in this writer’s opinion, the best is yet to come on Weekend two, Oct 10-12.
Not able to make it, or averse to festival crowds? I hear you—the last time I went to ACL I gave up precious shade during The Civil Wars set because I realized I was standing behind a barefoot guy with an oozing leg wound. Here are some of the best acts to catch to either prep for, remember, or imagine the best of ACL. Everyone knows the big acts so I tried to focus on some lesser-known bands.
1) Broods – Bridges
Coming all the way from New Zealand, you should catch them while they are here! Ethereal, beautiful vocals.
2) Young & Sick – Heartache Fetish
I predict great things for this indie band.
3) Chromeo – Jealous (I Ain’t With It)
Fuck you, Nick Jonas, Chromeo does it better. Pure, catchy electro goodness. Also, their equipment is held up with legs.
4) Miniature Tigers – Swimming Pool Blues
Confession: My friend saw them live and said they are not the most impressive. But how could you not love this poppy hit?
5) The Glitch Mob – We Can Make The World Stop
Every hipster I know is excited to see this electro band.
6) Childish Gambino – 3005
Austin is not known for drawing good hip hop acts. Childish Gambino is the exception. He was also literally everywhere during SXSW (#grind). I wanted to choose a lesser known song, but how can you ignore the line, “Girl why is you lyin’?/Girl why you Mufasa?” (Fuck it. “Heartbeats” is on this playlist too)
7) Skrillex – Summit (ft Ellie Goulding)
Yes everyone has an opinion about dubsteb but this dreamy song with his former girlfriend will surprise you. It demonstrates a softer, more melodic side of Skrillex’s brilliance (see also: “Cinema”).
8) The Preatures – Is This How You Feel?
Another band with a long commute, this Australian band won a songwriting contest with this throwback song.
9) MØ – Waste of Time
Danish electropop, the kind of person you can just tell puts on a good show.
10) The Replacements – Within Your Reach
You may remember this chill rock song from “Say Anything…” I LOVE YOU JOHN CUSACK.
* Die Antwoord – Fatty Boom Boom
I first heard them at ACL in 2012 and they are the most WTF band you will ever hear. And yes, her voice really does sound like that.
* The Bright Light Social Hour – Detroit
In 2009, this local band won a competition to open ACL. They have since played Lollapalooza and other big festivals, and returned to ACL last year. Be warned, if you see them live, your face might get rocked off.
*All my hipster friends are also losing their shit over Phantogram, CHVRCHES, and Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley). Check them out if you love female vocals!
ACL is not without scandal. Some locals get up in arms that the festival completely destroys Zilker Park (which is closed for an extended time before and after the festival), and want it relocated to another venue outside of town. At any rate, I am thankful for the abundance of great music. ACL has solidified Austin as one of the coolest places in the U.S. and convinced people to come visit my hometown. Full lineup here!