Our Picks for ACL Fest 2019

ACL Festival

Our Picks for ACL Fest 2019

Posted by on Oct 1, 2019

It’s time for one of the county’s biggest music gatherings, the Austin City Limits Music Festival, held in our own Zilker Park. The amount of music staged over the next two weekends, sometimes simultaneously, can be overwhelming to say the least. To get the most out of your time at ACL, it’s best to show up with a plan. Luckily, our music-obsessed staff is here to help. Check out these recommendations; these are definitely acts you don’t want to miss!

Take a look at our favorites then head over to the ACL Fest website to build your ultimate schedule.


FRIDAY

Barton Hills Choir

10/4 @ 12:30 PM

Austin Kiddie Limits Stage

The Barton Hills Choir, led by Gavin Tabone, has been part of ACL more often than not for a decade now, including helping out Belle & Sebastian. The choir, backed by a killer band, does never-cheesy versions of all sorts of songs—this year you’ll hear everything from Stevie Wonder to Guns ‘n’ Roses to Tame Impala. If you’re wanting to show your kids what they can do musically, this and School of Rock is a great one-two. (As an aside, BHC and the School of Rock players are the only acts on the Austin Kiddie Limits stage that aren’t led by dudes, continuing a long and annoying practice of featuring pretty much only men on a stage; not the greatest message for the girls in the audience. Over half of BHC’s soloists are girls.)

– Bill Childs


Flamingosis

10/11 @ 2:00 PM

Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage

Like many new generation beatmakers and producers, Aaron Velasquez is a bit of an enigma. He records under the inscrutable moniker, Flamingosis (the name comes from a free-style Frisbee move that his father invented), and not much is known about his personal life. Up until recently most of his recordings could only be found on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, or unofficial YouTube videos featuring images from obscure anime films. Nonetheless, the only unassailable information I am confident in sharing with you are the deep feelings of regret and self-loathing you will experience if you decide to pass up his set at ACL this year. There are thousands of great new beatmakers to be found, but their recordings are often scattered among various corners of the internet, making their discovery difficult for people that actually have lives. If you haven’t been introduced to Velasquez’ brand of beats yet, it may partly be because artists who make sample-based music still face unending legal issues, often necessitating guerilla style releases and mysterious personas. Yet whether you’re a newcomer to this particular world or have J Dilla’s face tattooed somewhere on your body, Flamingosis has something for you. He can pump you up while you get ready for your day at Zilker Park with Japanese city-pop infused funk, be your smooth soul soundtrack as you cruise with your windows down over to the festival, and make your body move in ways you didn’t think it could. And when you’re staring wistfully out your window years from now, reminiscing about how happy you were while dancing with your closest friends at ACL 2019, Flamingosis will be there for you.

– Ryan Wen


Cherry Glazerr

10/4 and 10/11 @ 2:45 PM

Vrbo Stage

There’s no doubt that Cherry Glazerr’s 2019 LP Stuffed and Ready shows the band at a turning point in their sharp-edged career. A few reviewers have heralded the LA rock trio’s album, the most recent release following the departure of keyboardist Sasami Ashworth, as a magnificent exploration inward. There’s depth from front woman and founding member Clementine Creevy’s world-weary perspective, in contrast to 2017’s Apocalypstick’s searing garage rock inferno. But do not assume that Glazerr is now a muted spirit. The fury that’s coursed through their collective veins from the start still rages on, with sharper focus. Creevy shows showing no mercy toward all the bull beleaguering today’s social climate. Stuffed and Ready belies a healthy distrust of the world, delivered by Creevy’s tumultuous guitar and savage vocals. Is there pop within this vitriol? Hell yes. Does it rock? Just as hard. Cherry Glazerr brings the heat, pulsating with wicked noise, grooves and this time, a more personal upheaval that you need for your ravaged soul.

– Laurie Gallardo


Tyler Childers

10/4 and 10/11 @ 3:30 PM

American Express Stage

As you can imagine, at a radio station like ours, we keep our eyes on a million different things. This guy snuck up on us a about a year ago. We were admittedly late to the party on his second album Purgatory, which garnered popular and critical acclaim and won Childers an Americana award for Emerging Artist of the Year. Austin country fans knew though: he sold out two nights at Stubb’s last Spring. Childers is a Kentucky native who learned to sing in the church choir, and the Bluegrass State influence seeps into his work. Childers’ well written country easily could be several decades old. But it’s not. In fact, his Kentucky brother Sturgill Simpson produced his last two records, so there’s that.  Childers is riding the wave of passion for newfangled country music that should play well at our big festival. Leave your cynicism at the gate.

– Matt Reilly


Kaytranada

10/4 and 10/11 @ 5:00 PM

Miller Lite Stage

The past few years have seen an explosion of “chill beats” playlists. This is music that takes its cues from boom-bap and dusty jazz samples, but the producers anonymize the life out of it so that the listener can study or work while it mumbles underneath. It is, essentially, millennial Muzak; here, “chill” is just a few steps away from “death.” Kaytranada has similar influences, but he brings so much life and personality, his music is impossible to ignore. The Haitian-Canadian producer debuted in 2016 with 99.9%, a record that is both a party-starter and immensely tranquil. His beats have the confident, rounded thwack of A Tribe Called Quest’s best work, but they substitute East Coast grittiness for tropical humidity. The record’s collaborators—Anderson .Paak, Little Dragon, Syd from the Internet—sound like they’re jumping off a springy diving board. Kaytranada has been pretty quiet since the album’s release, dangling one-off singles and remixes and collecting a Polaris Music Prize. ACL Fest lets him get back to his club-DJing roots, this time with a thousand more dancing people as his source of heat.

– Art Levy


The Comet Is Coming

10/4 and 10/11 @ 5:30

Tito’s Homemade Vodka Stage

This London-based three-piece (saxophone/keys /drums) mashes jazz fusion, funk, space rock and electronica into a raucous soundscape.  Volcanic saxman Shabaka Hutchins, who also fronts the award-winning band, Sons Of Kemet, leads the charge.  The group released their second full-length, Trust  The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery, in March, and a recent companion EP, The Afterlife.

– Jay Trachtenberg


The Raconteurs

10/4 and 10/11 @ 5:30 PM

American Express Stage

The question keeps popping up in interviews, and Jack White and Brendan Benson of The Raconteurs have come up with some kind of answer. Sort of. Why did the band wait ten whole years until recording another album? What was the impetus for making this one? White believes it started with “Shine The Light On Me,” one of the tracks on their latest release, the solid rocker Help Us Stranger. While writing and recording for his solo album Boarding House Reach, White found that, while he liked “Shine,” it felt more like a Raconteurs joint. White invited Benson over to his studio to hear it, and Benson agreed. And the wheels kept on turning from there. It wasn’t long before bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keeler were on board. There was no outside pressure to create, or deadlines to meet. White insists it’s the music that tells you what to do, and those instincts brought to fruition the twelve outstanding tracks fueling Help Us Stranger. Just don’t call it a comeback. The band never broke up. It was in temporary slumber mode brought on by multiple solo projects, running labels (hello, Third Man Records…and Third Man Pressing), and other bands. The moment they started playing again, it was as if they’d never stopped. On tour, The Raconteurs are joined by Dean Fertita – a Dead Weather bandmate, if you’re keeping track. And if their current tour is any indication, this performance will burn the stage to the ground.

– Laurie Gallardo


Thom Yorke

10/4 and 10/11 @ 7:00 PM

Miller Lite Stage

At this point in his career, Thom Yorke’s work speaks for itself.  Three decades of writing and producing some of the most critically and commercially successful music in the world have afforded him ample room to take risks with his projects.  In the early 2000’s, his platinum band Radiohead morphed into an electronic music act for their albums Kid A and Amnesiac, and it worked out beautifully. Since that time, the scope and vision of Yorke’s music has only grown, which can be heard clearly on his new album Anima. For his set at ACL, expect to hear live instruments mixed seamlessly electronic elements like sub bass synths and drum machines.  I can’t wait

– Soundfounder (Andrew Brown)


 


SATURDAY

Megan Thee Stallion

10/12 @ 1:15 PM

Miller Lite Stage

The flavor profile of Houston’s rap scene pairs with the pimp-facade feminist attitude of Texan Megan Thee Stallion. Her summer party album “Fever” has been sizzling in ears and Beats cans all season, landing her all over the late-night TV circuit. Emulating a style typically flexed by male rappers, Megan takes the historically chauvinist narrative and flips it into a persona that can more than toe the line of a dominatrix (which in and of itself implies respect and consent and reinforces the sex-positive attitude of today’s culture). For more on this in particular, KUT’s Dalyah Jones wrote this piece about Megan for Texas Monthly back in May. If you’ve spent the last some number of years feeling guilt over loving the sound of gangster rap but being repulsed by the lyrics, the world has gifted you Megan Thee Stallion, so go on with your bad self and get dirty.

-Taylor Wallace


Denzel Curry

10/12 @ 2:00 PM

Honda Stage

Still high off his early twenties, this Floridian is no stranger to graphic lyrics and rapid-fire hip-hop delivery. But while crude contemporaries like Vince Staples, Danny Brown, or Tyler the Creator seem determined to get as much shock value out of their rhymes as possible, Curry comes off in a more spontaneous and unchecked way. Denzel’s prolific and steady flow of energy in the studio leads to high hopes for him on the big stage.

– Jack Anderson


Gustafer Yellowgold

10/5 @ 2:30 PM

Austin Kiddie Limits Stage

The brainchild of Morgan Taylor, Gustafer Yellowgold came from the sun and landed in northern Minnesota. From that simple concept has come a series of fantastic gentle pop-infused records, animated DVDs, and, most recently, an Audible series. He’s played with the likes of Wilco and Polyphonic Spree. It’ll be interesting to see how the show, which usually accompanies Taylor’s delightful animations, translates to an outdoor stage, but I’m confident it’ll be great.

– Bill Childs


Brittany Howard

10/5 and 10/12 @ 4:00 PM

Honda Stage

With her soul vibes and sultry voice, Brittany Howard’s single “Stay High,” keeps you floating in the clouds. From Athens, Alabama and known as the frontwoman of the Alabama Shakes, Howard is making a name for herself and coming into her own without missing a beat. Her highly anticipated solo debut album, Jaime, named after her late sister, is nothing short of magical; taking the listeners on a journey while she travels effortlessly through different genres. Make sure you check out this musical traveler at ACL.

– Miles Bloxson


Kali Uchis

10/5 and 10/12 @ 5:00 PM

Miller Lite Stage

Grammy nominated Kali Uchis, the Columbian-American philanthropist, designer and singer, is self-assured and possesses an unequivocal sense of authenticity that resonates through her music. The Virginia-born singer credits the 60’s era, with its mix of early soul and R&B, but refuses to be influenced by her peers or current music. This is evident on her album, Isolation, which gives you a mixture of everything from Neo-soul to Bossa Nova vibes. She is a force to reckoned with.

– Miles Bloxson


James Blake 

10/5 and 10/12 @ 7:00 PM

Miller Lite Stage

James Blake’s music is a full body plunge. Ghostly samples and throbbing beats show off his love of experimental techno and rap, but his primary instrument is always absence. Since his debut in 2010, Blake has collaborated with Bon Iver, Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, and Brian Eno; and this year’s Assume Form features Travis Scott and André 3000 to great effect. Still, silence is Blake’s main dance partner, leaving space for his angelic voice and shape-shifting production. I saw Blake a few years ago at ACL Live, touring behind The Colour In Anything. Onstage, he worked with two other multi-instrumentalists, and the trio underlined the sheer physicality of the songs, detonating the bass and drums like dynamite. For music that can be so insular, it was an astonishing transformation. Blake won’t have the same home field advantage at ACL Fest, but give him your full attention, and he’ll have you plunging deep too.

– Art Levy


Metric

10/5 and 10/12 @ 7:00 PM

Vrbo Stage

There’s a good chance that you’re reading this and don’t know who they are. That’s not your fault and it’s not theirs – it’s the way of commercial media (radio, really) these days. Metric is a good Canadian band that’s been going strong since the late ’90s. They’ve stayed true to their sound while the trends have shifted around them, relegating them to a kind of in between place.  They do well in their home country, racking up a bunch of Juno and Polaris awards, but in case you haven’t been paying attention to the weather, this ain’t Canada. It will be interesting to see how the turnout is at their stage. It’s a good slot: 7 PM on Saturday night. In general, festival audiences like what they deliver – sex appeal, synths, fuzzy guitars, and driving, upbeat tunes. I hope a ton of people show up at their stage to see them and have a wonderful time, because this is a band that deserves it.

– Matt Reilly


Masego

10/5 and 10/12 @ 6:00 PM

Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage

The child of two pastors, this Kingston-born, Virginia-based multi-instrumentalist was introduced to gospel early on. Incorporating the influences into his own eclectic tastes, Masego learned to play saxophone, piano, and eventually (in an attempt to court his crush at the time) drum machines. That air of seduction has stayed center to Masego’s “TrapHouseJazz” genre-bending style, and his mastery of an R&B-soul vocal style has earned Masego touring spots alongside Leon Bridges. Expect a lot of different styles and some well-disciplined showmanship from Masego both Saturdays of the fest.

– Jack Anderson

SUNDAY

Faye Webster

10/6 @ 1:15 PM

BMI Stage

With a voice as delicate as the peaches of her home state, Faye Webster weaves soul grooves through thick twirls of steel guitar. Her sound is exactly what you’d expect of an Atlanta-based Gen Z-er writing alternative country, embossed with sprinklings of R&B that help make her music Georgia-certified. The 21-year-old is touring behind her third album Atlanta Millionaires Clubwhich she totes as an organic evolution of her music. It’s also a huge leap forward for her lyricism. In her catalog, you’ll find relatable songs that call out to lost loves (“Come to Atlanta”) and bare, honest introspections (“Room Temperature,”). Webster takes the ACL stage early (1:15 both Sundays), that sweet time of the day where you can either gorge on your favorite up-and-comers or on the act of discovering them. And if you forget which stage she’s on, just follow the cry of the steel guitar…

– Taylor Wallace


IDLES

10/6 and 10/13 @ 2:00 PM

Honda Stage

They plowed like a bulldozer through Austin during SXSW not once but twice, their relentless drive igniting one audience after another. But don’t call them punk. IDLES singer Joe Talbot hates the label. So much so, that he followed their incendiary full-length 2017 debut, Brutalism, with an album called Joy As An Act of Resistance. The Bristol-based rockers share common ground with other agro-rockers like Shame, Fontaines DC, LIFE, in that their targets – masculinity, homophobia, political hypocrisy and hatred – feel very much of the moment. Despite a few hopeful messages, Joy wasn’t exactly joyous. More like furious. And desperate. “I’m a snowflake in an avalanche,” Tabolt screams. Expect the same from their NOT punk ACL set. Just don’t tell that to the mosh pit.

– Jeff McCord


Rosalía 

10/6 and 10/13 @ 4:00 PM

Honda Stage

On her 2018 record El Mal Querer, Rosalia took traditional Flamenco music and melded it with hip-hop, EDM, pop and experimental music to tell the story of a toxic love triangle based on a the13th Century novel “The Romance of Flamenca.” If that’s not an ambitious musical undertaking I don’t know what is. The result is a record that works — “Malamente” distills Flamenco down to its essence updates it with synths, so that, even if you may not understand the words, you feel the heat.  “Di Mi Nombre,” an overt nod to Destiny’s Child, does the same thing, only in a completely different way. Meanwhile, songs like “Bagdad,” which musically quotes Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River,” use Flamenco as the basis for a lush and complex pop songs. Her recent releases see her expanding the scope of genre explorations and leaning into Reggaeton. “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi”, a collaboration with Ozuna. is as fun as the material on “El Mal Querer” is heavy.  Honestly, I am here for everything that Rosalía is doing, and can’t wait to see her at ACL Fest.

– Elizabeth McQueen


GoGo Penguin

10/6 and 10/13 @ 4:00 PM

Tito’s Homemade Vodka Stage

Not your father’s piano trio.  The Manchester threesome may be based in jazz, but they roam among rock, electronica, trip hop, computer game soundtracks, minimalism and even modern classical.  Drummer Rob Turner incorporates propulsive break-beats and futuristic, glitchy electronic pulses that keeps their sound in the here-and-now.  They have a new EP, Ocean In A Drop (Music For Film), due out later this month.

– Jay Trachtenberg


Kacey Musgraves

10/6 and 10/13 @ 6:00 PM

American Express Stage

Kacey Musgraves is a singer born in northeast Texas, and she has a golden voice! Just 31, she has already won six Grammy awards including 2019’s album of the year.  She’s thought of as a country artist, but don’t think she’s so easily defined.  She lists Alison Krauss, John Prine, Marty Robbins, and Dolly Parton as being favorites – other artists not easy to pin down.  Musgraves has a lovely voice, thoughtful lyrics.  Her music has a wide appeal to anyone who want to hear songs with something to say, sung by someone with a voice that knows how to deliver. She’s been a favorite of mine for years now, and I hope she’ll be one of yours!

– John Aielli


Lizzo

10/6 and 10/13 @ 7:00 PM

Miller Lite Stage

The first time I saw Lizzo was at ACL Festival in 2016. Before that, I kept hearing her name. Our assistant program director, Jacquie Fuller, had recently moved to Austin from Minneapolis and she had seen Lizzo come up as a local artist there — she kept telling me that Lizzo was magic. Deidre Gott, who books our live music, Deborah Sengupta Stith who writes about music for the Statesman — women whose opinions I respected – kept saying the same thing. “You have to see Lizzo.” So I went. And I danced. And I received something in that crowd, on that hot day that I didn’t even know I was missing — a real life example of how music could help me celebrate my body, my sexuality, my complex self and my differences without apology or shame. I could feel myself drinking it in and I understood that the women and men around me were drinking it in as well. And now, Lizzo is having her moment — “Truth Hurts” hit Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, she’s slaying all the awards shows, she’s practically headlining ACL Fest — and I know it’s because so many people are benefiting from her music the same way I did. The same way I do. Lizzo has been open about her own journey and about how that journey has directly impacted the music she makes and the way she presents it.  And to me, so much of the music she gives us is imbued with the things she’s learned on that journey — self-care is important, communication is key, boundaries are hard but necessary as is self-love. Her songs and performances serve as roadmaps and reminders on how good we can be to each other and to ourselves. So if you want know where to find me on both Sundays at 7pm, I’ll be at the Miller Lite Stage, dancing in the crowd to Lizzo, and receiving everything she is willing to give.

– Elizabeth McQueen


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