ACL Fest 2017: Here’s who you should go see

10:31 a.m. Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 Music
American-Statesman Staff
Solange slays at SXSW in March. Her almost-headlining sets are sure to be highlights on both Fridays of ACL Fest. Erika Rich / For American-Statesman

You can’t see them all, no matter how fast you move from stage to stage. Team Austin360 is here with some Austin City Limits Music Festival picks to help refine your game plan. The Austin City Limits Music Festival is Oct. 6-8 and 13-15 at Zilker Park. See all our previews and follow live coverage at austin360.com/acl.

11:45 a.m. Wild Now (Miller Lite): Start your ACL Fest experience with the dreamy pop of this Austin duo.

12:30 p.m. Carson McHone (Tito’s): Continue your tour of sounds from the actual city limits with the rising singer-songwriter’s intelligent alt-country.

1:15 p.m. Missio (HomeAway): This ATX electronic duo set out to trash models and Perrier, but months of hurricanes, earthquakes and political strife later, their smash hit “Middle Fingers” feels like the song of the summer.

2:30 p.m. Valerie June (Tito’s): Your midafternoon soulful roots music break.

3:15 p.m. Spencer Ludwig (BMI): Funky Bruno Mars-style pop, but with more trumpet.

4:15 p.m. Vulfpeck (American Express): A Michigan-based funk band that jams way harder than you think they should.

5:15 p.m. Skepta (HomeAway): The biggest crossover from the U.K. grime scene since M.I.A. spits aggressive rhymes into an anxiety-fueled electro grinder of bass-heavy beats.

6:15 p.m. Bonobo (Tito’s): Lovely dinner time interlude: Immerse yourself in in aural texture as British producer Simon Green brings his lonely dreamscape of electronic orchestration to life with a full band (right next door to the food court).

7:15 p.m. Solange (Barton Springs) Her 2016 masterwork, “A Seat at the Table,” is a cry of resistance that doubles as a salve to the soul. Every moment of her South by Southwest 2017 show was gorgeously choreographed, and this sunset performance should be sublime.

8:15 p.m. Jay-Z (American Express) I feel terrible for the XX, who hosted a pair of entrancing evenings at ACL Live earlier this year but who won’t be ready to brush that “Dirt off Your Shoulder” at this point in the night?

American-Statesman Staff
Jay-Z is the Friday night headliner at the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Oct. 6 and Oct. 13. Fans waited in line for hours to see him and Kanye West when they performed at Seaholm Power Plant during South by Southwest in 2011. Jay Janner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

11:30 a.m. Mobley (Miller Lite): The catchiest pop act to come out of Austin since Spoon.

12:15 p.m. Capyac (Tito’s): Electro-funk dance party anyone?

1 p.m. Mondo Cozmo (Barton Springs): Swells of joy will spill across Zilker Park as Joshua Ostrander’s triumphant pop anthems draw friends and lovers together in a swaying top-of-lung singalong.

2 p.m. A$AP Ferg (American Express): After dropping a solid 2016 release that was introspective and aspirational, this year’s followup was a largely forgettable journey back into standard trap tropes with sex and drugs aplenty, but if you’re looking to turn up, this is the spot.

3 p.m. Benjamin Booker (Miller Lite): On his new album, “Witness,” Booker maintains the same anarchic punk approach to gut-bucket blues that won him fans with his self-titled debut three years ago, but he’s matured as a songwriter. Vulnerability creeps in as he downshifts into confessional gospel and wistful folk.

4 p.m. Thundercat (Tito’s): A fearless jazz weirdo and acclaimed Kendrick Lamar collaborator who crafts surprisingly accessible story songs out of technically mind-boggling riffs.

5 p.m. The Black Angels (Barton Springs): The legacy of Austin psychedelic music blazes on with “Death Song,” the rich collection of reverb-soaked rock these next-generation fuzz fanatics wrote in the shadow of the 2016 election.

6 p.m. Ice Cube (American Express): If you’re wondering where Cube’s set will fall on a scale of “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” to “Are We There Yet?” listen to his new single “Good Cop, Bad Cop.” No roses will be handed out during this year’s legacy rap performance.

7 p.m. Tove Lo (Barton Springs): Sexy, suave pop to shimmy you through the transition from day to night.

8 p.m. Chance the Rapper (Honda): Chancelor Bennett is one of the most authentic hip-hop voices of his generation, and he is determined to use his superpowers for good.

American-Statesman Staff
Lukas Nelson is having a big year, including performing at the 2017 Austin Music Awards in March. He continues with late Friday afternoon sets during both weekends of ACL Fest. DAVE CREANEY FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

11:45 a.m. Tank & the Bangas (HomeAway): It’s hard to make it out to the field before noon, but the theatrical mishmash of jazz, hip-hop and R&B from this year’s NPR Tiny Desk Contest winner will set your day off right.

12:30 p.m. Mélat (Tito’s): In the months since we made her the first Austin360 Artist of the Month of 2017, the sultry soul singer has been on a steady rise. Catch her on the come-up.

1:30 p.m. Jamila Woods (Tito’s): A “Blk Girl Soldier” leading a neo-soul revolution.

2:15 p.m. Danny Brown (Honda): Real talk: The unhinged maniac rhyme styles from his 2016 joint “Atrocity Exhibition” might be very weird during daylight hours, but you owe it to yourself to check it out anyway.

3:15 p.m. SuperDuperKyle (Miller Lite): It’s easy to knock a YouTube star with a catalog of bubble gum raps who rocked a lavender denim combo at the VMAs, but just try to feel bad about the world while listening to his sunny rhymes.

4:15 p.m. DRAM (Honda): A freewheeling rap/R&B prankster who performs with irresistible jubilation.

6:15 p.m. Run the Jewels. (Honda): The internet-born, unlikely aggro-rap heroes we didn’t know we needed.

7:30 p.m. Zhu (Barton Springs): Keep it moving (and avoid seeing anyone over 30) as you head into the home stretch with synth-driven dance music.

8:15 p.m. Gorillaz (Honda): In this bizarre comic book world we seem to have slipped into, closing the fest to the sounds of a cartoon band touring on a record called “Humanz” seems very appropriate.

PETER BLACKSTOCK

12:30 p.m. Barton Hills Choir with Charlie Sexton (Austin Kiddie Limits): Austin’s most valuable player sits in with the city’s most youthful ensemble for BHC’s annual appearance helping to launch the ACL Fest weekend.

1:15 p.m. The Aces (BMI): Local acts Missio and the Band of Heathens are dependable draws in this time slot as well, but we’re inclined to take a chance on this promising young all-female indie-rock quartet from Utah.

2:30 p.m. Valerie June (Tito’s): The Tennessee singer-songwriter’s second major-label album, “The Order of Time,” reaffirms her status as one of roots music’s most distinctive rising stars.

3:15 p.m. The Lemon Twigs (Miller Lite): Indie-rock teen siblings Brian and Michael D’Addario make a triumphant return to Austin after winning this year’s Grulke Prize for Developing U.S. Act at South by Southwest.

4:15 p.m. Crystal Castles (Honda): Take a late-afternoon chill-out with the long-running Canadian electronic music act, with new singer Edith Francs joining founders Ethan Kath and Christopher Chartran.

5:15 p.m. Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real (Miller Lite): With a self-titled album on Fantasy Records, the most musically prodigious child of Willie Nelson is in the midst of a big year, and there’s a collaboration with his dad and brother still to come.

6:15 p.m. Foster the People (American Express): The Los Angeles indie-pop band is touring behind its recently issued third album “Sacred Hearts Club.”

7:15 p.m. Ryan Adams (Miller Lite): It’s the rock songwriter’s first Austin appearance since the release of his new album “Prisoner,” following the last-minute cancellation of a South by Southwest show in March.

8:15 p.m. Jay-Z (American Express): He’s the biggest of this year’s admittedly subpar batch of headliners, and there’s always the outside chance of a Beyonce cameo.

American-Statesman Staff
The XX are the other Friday night headliners at ACL Fest this year. Suzanne Cordeiro/For American-Statesman 2017

11:30 a.m. Mobley (Miller Lite): A recent Austin360 Artist of the Month, this eclectic up-and-coming talent is also representing the city internationally as part of this year’s Project ATX6 class.

12:30 p.m. Rattletree (Austin Kiddie Limits): Rhythm and melody intertwine in the marimba-fueled sounds of this group that puts a contemporary spin on African traditionalism.

1 p.m. Grace VanderWaal (HomeAway): The 13-year-old ukulele-playing singer-songwriter and “America’s Got Talent” alum will preview songs from her debut album, due in November.

2:15 p.m. Parker Millsap (Tito’s): A rising star in Americana music, Oklahoma troubadour Millsap made a memorable “Austin City Limits” TV debut last fall.

3 p.m. Benjamin Booker (Miller Lite): Soul, pop, blues, rock ’n’ roll and more influence the music of this Florida-raised guitarist and singer-songwriter.

4 p.m. LĪVE (American Express): The 1990s alt-rockers split up for awhile, but they’re back in action with frontman Ed Kowalczyk at the helm for the first time in nearly a decade.

5 p.m. Angel Olsen (Miller Lite): The indie-rocker made waves with her 2016 album “My Woman” (including an “Austin City Limits” TV taping), and her band includes Heather McEntire of acclaimed North Carolina group Mount Moriah.

7 p.m. Spoon (Miller Lite): Local hero Britt Daniel’s indie juggernaut puts the A back in ACL Fest, especially given that their current lineup features a majority of Austinites for the first time in years.

8 p.m. Chance the Rapper (Honda): Whoever was booked here would win the time-slot battle by default, because the band across the park is the must-avoid Red Hot Chili Peppers. As fate would have it, Chance is also well worth seeing, one of the freshest voices to hit hip-hop in years.

11:45 a.m. Tank & the Bangas (HomeAway): The eclectic New Orleans ensemble won this year’s NPR Tiny Desk Contest, and they’re a unanimous pre-noon choice in our staff picks as well.

12:30 p.m. Deap Vally (American Express): The guitar-drums duo of Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards rocked the house opening a tour for Blondie and Garbage earlier this year.

1:15 p.m. Charlotte Cardin (BMI): The captivating Montreal singer’s sophisticated indie-pop tunes in English and French draws on jazz and electronica influences.

2:15 p.m. Rainbow Kitten Surprise (American Express): They’re neither rainbows nor kittens nor surprising, but the North Carolina group finds an agreeable groove somewhere between indie-folk and alt-rock realms.

3:15 p.m. Whitney (Barton Springs): Formed from the ashes of indie band Smith Westerns, the Chicago group accents its soulful music with melodic flourishes of keyboards and horns.

4:15 p.m. Milky Chance (American Express): Acoustic guitars and DJ samples combine in the modern folk music of this German ensemble.

5:15 p.m. First Aid Kit (HomeAway): Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg have emerged as one of the most appealing vocal duos in pop music in decades.

6:15 p.m. The Head and the Heart (American Express): Co-founder Jonathan Russell stepped up in the wake of Josiah Johnson’s hiatus to keep the indie-folk-pop outfit on track, as evidenced by an auspicious “Austin City Limits” TV taping earlier this year.

8:15 p.m. The Killers (American Express): The Las Vegas rockers ride into town a couple weeks after the release of “Wonderful Wonderful,” their first album in five years after leader Brandon Flowers issued a solo album in 2015.

Ricardo Brazziell/American-Statesman Staff
Sam Melo, right, and Darrick Bozzy Keller of Rainbow Kitten Surprise probably won’t have kittens with them when they play both Sunday afternoons during ACL Fest. But maybe they’ll conjure a rainbow. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

ERIC WEBB

12:30 p.m. Methyl Ethel (American Express): I call it the “Wild Nothing Theory” of ACL Fest scheduling, after my all-time favorite early set. Find the chillest, dreamiest band to open up your festival journey. These Aussies, with Jake Webb’s androgynous voice and gently weird art-rock proclivities, fit the bill.

1:15 p.m. The Aces (BMI): Haim goes to the mall. If that doesn’t sound awesome to you, we will never understand each other on deep soul level.

2:15 p.m. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (American Express): *ACL Fest emo throwback act alert*

3:15 p.m. James Vincent McMorrow (HomeAway): Falsetto and heartbreak under the sun. Not the ideal venue! But worth your time nonetheless.

5:15 p.m. Skepta (HomeAway): … how does he spit bars that fast.

6:15 p.m. Foster the People (American Express): They once spun perfect pop-rock crystals like “Houdini”; they’ve sounded more like the lobby of an L.A. juice bar with each album leading up to this year’s “Sacred Hearts Club.” Goodwill from their 2011 golden-hour ACL Fest crowdpleaser leads me to believe this could be worth it.

7:15 p.m. Solange (Barton Springs): With gallery-ready show design and lyrics that recite the poetry of black identity in the middle of American crisis, this is an “I was there when” choice.

8:15 p.m. The XX (Honda): Seeing Hova is a perfectly reasonable choice. I’d avoid the crowds and all that “living legend” baggage and say something loving with Jamie, Romy and Oliver.

American-Statesman Staff
Seeing First Aid Kit is a great way head into the home stretch on a late Sunday afternoon at ACL Fest.

12:15 p.m. MUNA (Honda): Queer positivity set over who-knows-what-lurks-these-streets pop melodies? Take my money!

2 p.m. Car Seat Headrest (Honda): Their indie bedroom confession rock ripped at Sound On Sound Fest last year.

3 p.m. R.LUM.R (BMI): One of those R&B up-and-comers whose voice Prometheus rush-delivered straight from Olympus. Influences namechecked include: Sufjan Stevens, Linkin Park, Sade, Dave Brubeck, John Mayer. …

4 p.m. Thundercat (Tito’s Handmade Vodka): Elastic, sexy funk that promises many “Um, how does a person do that?” moments.

6 p.m. Cut Copy (Honda): I’ve always thought Cut Copy is what the most popular band in the world would sound like if disco never died.

7 p.m. Tove Lo (Barton Springs): Sweden’s most dangerous pop star, kicking the toxic gender roles right in the meatballs.

8 p.m. Chance the Rapper (Honda): There’s a sweet sense of lineage to Jay-Z (arguably the most famous living rapper) headlining Friday night and one of the most vibrant young rappers of today, who leads a movement all his own, taking a big stage the next night. Hard to imagine this one won’t leave you feeling revived.

11:45 a.m. Tank & the Bangas (HomeAway): You will be gobsmacked by Tarriona “Tank” Ball’s magical flow and bone-rattling belting. The sprawling band collides like electrons of joy in video performances. A must-catch.

12:30 p.m. Bibi Bourelly (Honda): Au courant R&B in the vein of Alessia Cara and SZA; wrote “Bitch Betta Have My Money” for Rihanna. Not sure what to make of her “school of hard knocks” storyline despite an art world bigwig mom and guitarist dad with his own Wikipedia page. Can’t argue with that gut-punch of a voice, though.

1:30 p.m. Jamila Woods (Tito’s Handmade Vodka): I am tempted to write a pithy line about Sunday and church for this divinely soulful Chance the Rapper collaborator. I’ll refrain from trying to make it pithy.

2:15 p.m. Danny Brown (Honda): Let’s get weird! The reigning king of oddball rap should be a surreal afternoon draw.

3:15 p.m. Whitney (Barton Springs): Kick back and take a break with a little strummy, sunny, Southern-seasoned alt-pop.

4:15 p.m. DRAM (Honda): In the year of Chance, an unflaggingly optimistic hip-hop voice like this should get a prominent spotlight. No bad vibes welcome.

5:15 p.m. First Aid Kit (HomeAway): Swedish sisters whose romantic (and at times all-too-relatably mournful) harmonies transport you to an alternate reality where everyone is Benjamin Braddock and we all own Budweiser horses.

6:15 p.m. BADBADNOTGOOD (Tito’s Handmade Vodka): This Ghostface Killah-aligned, boundary-breaking jazz outfit took me on a multisensory journey under a tent at the last Fun Fun Fun Fest. Ready to break out the ol’ senses again.

8:15 p.m. The Killers (American Express): Why go see Damon Albarn’s singing doodles when an impossibly handsome man in an impossibly sparkly blazer could make you feel both human and dancer? Come out of your cage. You’ll do just fine.

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