It is a true understatement to say that the pinnacle of the teenage Austinite social calendar is Austin City Limits. ACL has taken on a life of its own, an event so fantasized and talked about that it couldn't ever be as good as we all think it will be. I guess this spawns from the fact that we have grown up in Austin and in the back of our minds, believe that we are better than dreaming about prom or something we've deemed as too "suburban" for our obviously mature taste.
Through living in Austin, it's been commonplace that I see whatever bands I want to on their stops through the Lone Star State, causing a sort of superiority among the other ACL goers. Partially, this is because I don't have to shell out the cash for concert tickets because of my parents, but also because the shows I want to are almost always making a stop in this ever trendy city.
Nevertheless, I give out detailed ACL must-see suggestions to anybody who even vaguely asks. So, dear friends of the Internet, I thought I'd bestow some of my obviously worldly and ever valued teenage opinions on who are the absolute must-sees of the upcoming Austin City Limits festival.
If you're interested in moving to Austin (note: don't), listen to this guy. He's a cradle Austinite himself and one of my most favorite shows I've seen this year. His somewhat cynical type of humor stage presence and strong vocals made the show. I don't think I know anybody who has seen him that doesn't have a little bit of a crush on him. His albums are sing-songy in the best way possible, so check out his As the War Came so you can be up to date and sing along.
Bonus: another Austin native includes Gary Clark Jr. Both SG and Gary went to the same high school and are as Austin as breakfast tacos and craft beer.
Bridges' Coming Home was truly a little oasis in the hellhole that is Austin in mid-August. "Brown Skin Girl" and "Coming Home" have served as many a background to my dog days of Summer sing-a-longs. Another Texas-native, Bridges provides a little piece of something old to the festival this year. Without sounding cheesy or forced, he has created a sweet record with a modern soul vibe to it. Extra Austinite points him: he's a friend of and collaborator with White Denim's Austin Jenkins.
Waxahatchee's Katie Crunchfield (aside from having the best name ever) keeps a solid mixture of lo-fi angst and truly masterful lyrics. I became obsessed with "Bathtub" off her 2012 record American Dream because of the song itself, but the lyrics made it a staple in my Winter playlists. Somewhat like a less California-centric Best Coast, she puts on a great show. Touring for her new album, Ivy Tripp, she has masterfully evolved from her 2012 edgier sound to a full on grown up artist. Listen for "La Loose" and "Under a Rock".
I have been so impressed by Houndmouth. After seeing them at SXSW, I truly have put them on every playlist from March on. I have to admit: I wrote them off after their catchy hit "Sedona" was played on Austin radio stations almost obsessively, but on the same record is the beautiful "For No One". Another lyrical maven, they have proved themselves to be not only able to produce a fun hit but also a meaningful album. Think Walk the Moon without the sugarcoating.
The Disciples of Christ
This is somewhat of a bonus must-see, but not at all a joke. If you want to dance and be unironically enthusiastic about the whole festival, get some Kimchi fries from Chi'lantro and head to the nearby gospel tent. I stumbled into a Disciples of Christ show at ACL years ago and truly regard it as one of the best I've seen at the festival It has become somewhat of a tradition for all of my friends to see them each year before starting our day, so I suggest you do the same.
A less pop and Ivy League educated Hoodie Allen, G-Eazy kills it, even as a white rapper. I suggest getting here early, as he's expected to fill almost the park even as he fights for an audience from Drake. Another pro-tip: he's worth listening to, so regulate your drinking so you make sure that you remember his killer show and vibe to "Tumblr Girls".
Kurt Vile and The Violators
I know literally everybody was talking about how great Kurt Vile was for a while there when Walking on a Pretty Daze came out, but it's so deserved. He is both the perfect Saturday morning driving music and the perfect "God-please-help-me-get-through-this-week" Tuesday night music. His beautiful flowing locks and appealingly monotone voice have just really got to me. Definitely worth relaxing to after a long day of ruining your liver and sweating in the 99 degree heat.
In the Valley Below
"Peaches" was my song this June. In the Valley Below's first album came out last year and they're already accumulated a following. I have a theory that they're going to be one of the next big "Indie" bands of the next few years. Jeffrey Jacob Mendel and Angela Gail Mattson are killing the game by combining somewhat ethereal melodies with deep and low voices, perfect to bliss out to during your time at ACL fest.
Yet another band that everybody claims to love. But, I saw them when they taped ACL Live at Moody Theater here in Austin and truly remembered why I loved my city and the music it has to offer. If you want a feel good show / the indie version Disciples of Christ style soul music, go see Alabama Shakes. They are fun enough to dance to but also chill enough to lay on a yoga mat and soak in the sun. Check out their older album, Boys and Girls, before heading to the festival.
Another thing to tell you, from one Austinite to another Brooklynite / Californian / Portlanders, remember to drink water and keep your phones charged. The heat will get to you, especially if you're drinking, so as a rule of thumb, finish a bottle of water (or a box or can of water that they sell at the festival) with every drink you have. Remember to fuel up on local Amy's Ice Cream, Mighty Cones and Juiceland to keep up your strength for three days of debauchery.