One of the most exciting times of year is here: the Austin City Limits Music Festival! Celebrating its 15th year right here in our backyard, ACL features all kinds of music and the chance to not only hear your favorites, but to also hear from some new-to-you artists.
In case you missed it, we posted our Ultimate Guide to ACL 2016, which you can read here and which tells you everything you need to know before you go, including what to bring, what to wear, how to get there and more. We braved Weekend One (see some of the evidence on our Instagram feed), listened to all the bands, checked the schedule and the different bands playing the second weekend, and came up with this list of the artists you should check out on Weekend Two:
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7th
11:30am – Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band (HomeAway) will get things kicked off with a bang with the first time slot. The New York native recently released “No History”, one of the tracks on his 9th album Instigator and a personal tribute to the events that unfolded on 9/11. The band plays an official Late Night Show at Stubbs at 11pm on Thursday, October 6th after Band of Horses.
12:15pm – Called “the real deal” and “pop’s newest star”, 18-year-old Grace Mitchell (Samsung) has a commanding stage presence, coupled with plenty of pop hooks and danceable beats. Mitchell also got rave reviews when she was in Austin for this year’s SXSW. You can also catch Mitchell at 11pm on Friday, October 7th at Stubbs at the official Late Night Show after Two Door Cinema Club.
1:15pm – Grab some food at ACL Eats and take advantage of the shade for Max Jury (Tito’s), a piano-playing singer-songwriter hailing from Des Moines. His songs, including “Love That Grows Old”, show Jury is adept at mixing rock and roll, gospel, soul and country. Among Jury’s influences are Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zandt, so he should fit right in during his time in Austin.
2pm – Nashville-based indie rockers Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes (BMI) were also in Austin for this year’s SXSW. Enjoy the band’s high-energy show and toe-tapping songs like “Always/Never” (which sounds very similar to Phoenix) on a smaller stage.
3pm - Practically everyone knows all the words to “Spirits”, The Strumbellas‘ (Miller Lite) breakout hit, so that song is sure to be a massive singalong. The band was among many festivalgoers favorite performances from Weekend One. “Spirits” was the lead single from the Canadian band’s album, Hope, which was released in April. The songs on the new album continue combining serious themes with catchy melodies, as in the recently-released “We Don’t Know” video, which addresses keeping up the faith when hope seems lost.
4pm – Weekend Two concertgoers are lucky to have the chance to catch AWOLNATION (Honda), the LA rock band which produces hit after hit. Apparently lead singer Aaron Bruno recalls Austin fondly, as his first show at Stubbs made him realize audiences were responding to his songwriting.
5pm – By this time in the day, you’ll be ready to dance! Cold War Kids (Cirrus Logic) played some real crowd favorites the first weekend, as well as some new songs off their fifth album.
6pm – There was a lot of buzz about Die Antwoord‘s (Honda) set during Weekend One, but the over the top everything is a real turn off. That said, don’t miss the chance to catch Grammy-winning British artist Corinne Bailey Rae (Tito’s) showstopping voice. Rae’s music is a combination of folk, jazz, R&B and pop and by all accounts, her set Weekend One was very well-received, with fans spilling out from under the Tito’s tent.
7pm – Of course, we have a soft spot for other parents, and so we liked Band of Horses (Miller Lite) even more after reading this article about how things have changed for the founder and lead singer since he became a dad. Why Are You OK is the band’s fifth album, and songs like “Casual Party” seem tailor-made for an outdoor concert with tens of thousands of your closest friends.
8pm – Festival organizers have been trying to book Radiohead (Samsung) since the very beginning, and the stars have finally aligned for that to happen. The band’s latest album, A Moon Shaped Pool, is their best in recent years, and Weekend One festgoers enjoyed the band’s mix of new songs and old favorites.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 9th
12pm – Seeing local bands like Walker Lukens & The Side Arms (Miller Lite) on one of ACL’s main stages is enough to warm every Austinite’s heart, so it’s good to get to the festival early to show our support. The band didn’t play Weekend One, but Lukens once said that they put a lot of effort into putting on a great show, so we’re hoping they come away from ACL with lots of new fans.
12:45pm – Nothing But Thieves (Honda), a five-piece alt-rock band from Essex, had their first No. 1 single on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart in March of this year with “Trip Switch”, which electrified the crowd during Weekend One. The band’s self-titled debut has established the band in the UK, and from the looks of it, fans here in the U.S. are catching on, too. Shawn Pander is another solid bet during this time slot, although us lucky Austinites can see him perform in other venues around town.
1:30pm – JR JR (Cirrus), formerly known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., is just at ACL Weekend Two, so lucky festivalgoers can dance to the catchy pop songs like recent release “Gone”, off the band’s latest album. JR JR will also be playing an Official Late Night Show on Thursday, October 6th at Emo’s with Saint Motel. Doors for that show are at 7pm.
2:30pm – There are several great bands in this time slot, but ultimately, Saint Motel (Honda) is likely to be a really fun set, with their songs which sound surprisingly retro and modern at the same time. If the band’s name doesn’t sound familiar, it’s likely that the summer hit “My Type” will. Margaret Glaspy (BMI), who recently made a stop into NPR for a Tiny Desk Concert, is another option at a smaller stage.
3:30pm – Andra Day (Miller Lite) was anointed as “America’s Next Great Soul Singer” by New York Magazine, and her single “Rise Up” will serve as the theme song for a forthcoming film produced by CNN Films, called We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World. Day’s jazzy, soulful voice caught the attention of Steve Wonder’s wife, who shared it with her husband, who connected Day with industry veteran Adrian Gurvitz, who co-produced her debut album.
4:30pm – Welsh indie rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen (Honda) won British Breakthrough Act in the 2016 BRIT Awards, beating out James Bay, Jess Glynne, Wolf Alice and Years & Years. The band aspires to reach the critical success of Oasis, complete with plenty of hooks and lots of energy, which was very popular with Weekend One festivalgoers.
5:30pm – The Naked and the Famous (Cirrus Logic) are back after a two-year absence with a new LP, Simple Forms, which the band crafted with the intent to make a pop record. During the time off, Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers ended their relationship, although the album showcases “their knack for earworm melodies, and those soaring singalong choruses, while introducing an on-trend, high glitz, pop-production style”, as one review put it.
6:30pm – The recently-released video of “Soy Yo” by Bomba Estéreo (Tito’s) has gone viral, with everyone from NPR to the Guardian singing its praises. The Colombian hip hop duo brought an infectious energy that was one of my favorite performances from Weekend One.
7:30pm – Irish three-piece Two Door Cinema Club (Cirrus Logic) will release a new album, Gameshow, on October 14 after taking a hiatus during which the band members struggled with alcoholism and depression. The group’s sound has evolved and become more varied, based on more recent releases. Chainsmokers was one of the more crowded sets during Weekend One, but was also a good pick with a very young and enthusiastic crowd.
8:30pm – The prolific Kendrick Lamar (Samsung) started his career at the ripe age of 16. Now, at 29, he is headlining ACL. His set during Weekend One was very well-received.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 10th
11:30am – Canadian alt-rock duo July Talk (HomeAway) are known for putting on an electric live show filled with radio-friendly tunes. Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis share vocal duties and have seemingly opposite voices which work well together. See their new video, “Beck + Call”, which explores a broken relationship.
12:15pm – Local teen brother and sister duo Charlie Belle (Tito’s) received widespread critical acclaim for the band’s debut EP, Get To Know. The duo describes its sound as “a fresh take on Bristish alterna-pop and US college radio music of the 90s”. Listen to “Get To Know” and see why critics have fallen for Charlie Belle and why these teenagers have earned a spot at ACL.
1pm – With 10 years under their belt, Ra Ra Riot (HomeAway) are veterans of the music scene. The band’s pop songs are crowd pleasers and the band puts on a fun and engaging live show. The five-piece released their fourth album, Need Your Light, in February of this year. “Water” was the lead single.
2pm – Little Rock-based seven-piece Amasa Hines (BMI) weaves soul, afro-beat, blues, indie rock and psychedelic influences into the band’s music. Get a taste of the band’s sound during the performance on Audiotree of “Coltrane”. Amasa Hines will also play an Official Late Night Show on Saturday, October 8th at Lamberts.
3pm – Pete Yorn (Miller Lite) became a dad last year and is back with a new album, Arranging Time, after a six-year absence. The mellow guitar pop is considered by many critics to be a return to his roots. See the video for “Lost Weekend” here.
4pm – Unlike some of the newer acts at the Festival, Local Natives (Honda) has been together for 13 years. The band members worked together on the latest release, Sunlit Youth, which began as 50 to 60 songs and was whittled down to a dozen carefully crafted tracks.
5pm – Oh Wonder (Miller Lite), a London-based electro-pop duo, is a testament to how the music industry is changing. The group sold out shows in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Los Angeles and New York without ever performing live beforehand. What started as a side project, which was to self-produce a song each month and share it on SoundCloud, blossomed into a tour a year after the first single was released online. The slow, R&B-influenced sounds like in “Without You” will ease you into the last evening of the festival.
6pm – “Genghis Kahn” by Miike Snow (Honda) may very well be one of the catchiest songs in recent memory. The Swedish indie pop band pepper falsetto vocals and piano into their music and have some hilarious videos which look plucked out of James Bond meets Austin Powers (check out new release “My Trigger” here). Expect a big and engaged audience for this band. Of course, Willie Nelson will be another big draw on the Samsung stage.
7pm – When it comes to sister act Haim (HomeAway), most music fans either love ‘em or hate ‘em. The band canceled European dates on its summer tour to finish recording their sophomore album. After the success of their debut album, the new LP will be a tough act to follow. Weekend One festivalgoers enthusiastically cheered the band on, with a crowd that spilled out far beyond the HomeAway stage.
8pm – Although Mumford & Sons (Samsung) has evolved from a banjo-playing group of lads, their newer, their Weekend One show expertly mixed older favorites with newer songs most of the audience sang along to. Fans of LCD Soundsystem thought the band’s Weekend One performance was among the best ACL sets ever. If you have gone to the festival all weekend, you’ll have to decide what you are more in the mood to listen to.
What bands are you most looking forward to seeing?