8 Acts You Can’t Miss At Austin City Limits Festival 2016 (PREVIEW)

Austin’s festival season is probably the only thing longer than its summer. Kicking off with SXSW in March and lasting until Sound on Sound Fest (formerly Fun Fun Fun Fest) in November, almost every weekend seems to have some sort of festival or event going on celebrating stuff like hot sauce, oysters, ice cream, or Eeyore’s birthday, and every event features some sort of musical component. What started out as a live music showcase on public access television, Austin City Limits has grown to include its own venue and a festival of its own. This year ACL Fest is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, continuing its back-to-back weekends with a little more variety than previous years to create larger differentiation between each weekend.

In what also seems to be a lesson learned from the last few years, this year’s lineup sees a marked decrease in the amount of EDM acts that brought in swarms of Molly-grubbing college kids. This year ACL boasts being one of only three US festivals to book Radiohead, as well as Kendrick Lamar and LCD Soundsystem rounding out the weekend. There’s also an impressive amount of country and Americana with Chris Stapleton and Willie Nelson performing on the first and second weekend in addition to Kacey Musgraves, Asleep at the Wheel, Anderson East and more. One of oddest parts of the lineup is Mumford & Sons headlining on Sunday night, but we’ll just say that they are the obligatory “throwback” slot as their fifteen minutes seems to have run up a couple years back. With so much variety and acts to choose from, here’s a list of acts not to be missed at the 2016 edition of ACL Fest.

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Radiohead (Friday, September 30/Friday, October 7 @ 8:00, Samsung Stage)

While it may seem redundant to list one of the headliners as a must-see act, it is important with Radiohead in particular to point out the reasons to watch, or not watch, the alt-rock demigods. In an era where many bands that are a couple of decades removed from the height of their popularity are capitalizing on 90s nostalgia by going on reunion tours and playing their hits, Radiohead is not one of those bands. In fact, the chances that they will play “Creep” or “Karma Police” are fairly slim. Of the shows on this past tour “Creep” has only been performed eight times and “Karma Police” only about fifty-percent of the time. With that aside, Radiohead is one of those bands that can play no radio hits and fans will still walk away amazed. With an intriguing new “break up” album out coupled with the fact that this is the last stop on their very limited tour this year, now is the time to go see what all of the hype is about.

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LL Cool J feat. DJ Z-Trip (Saturday, October 1/October 8 @ 4:30, Samsung Stage)

Though many fans of modern day hip-hop might find LL Cool J “whack” and outdated, he was among the forefathers of pop-rap and helped to bring hip-hop to a mainstream audience. Along with producer Rick Rubin, LL Cool J’s Radio was a major influencer of rapping aggressively over minimal beats and rock elements as opposed to the more live elements and synthesizers of 70’s R&B. LL Cool J places alongside the Beastie Boys and Run D.M.C. in bringing rock and rap together, and he paved the way for the likes of Public Enemy. He’s known for putting on an energetic show (he is an actor after all) and no one will leave his set disappointed.

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Band of Horses (Friday, September 30/October 7 @ 7:00, Miller Light Stage)

Despite being active for almost fifteen years, Seattle-based Band of Horses have only released five studio albums. Their first two albums garnered a lot of attention in Sweden before they started gaining fans in the indie rock crowd over the course of the last decade. After releasing their Grammy-nominated album Infinite Arms in 2010, it has become an increasingly rare occasion to be able to catch them on tour. Though their last album failed to impress, the high energy of their shows and catalogue of songs that you are surprised you know make them a band worth watching, especially on the first day of the weekend when energy is still high.

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Catfish and the Bottlemen (Saturday, October 1/October 8 @ 4:30, Honda Stage)

These UK rockers haven’t quite reached the same status in the States that they’ve achieved across the pond, but this post-punk revival outfit never fails to impress in concert. Where the debut album by the Welsh-founded lads, The Balcony, was a straight-ahead rocker, their sophomore album The Ride finds the band playing it a bit safe but is still chock full of songs that promise to be great to watch at a festival with a beer in hand.

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Anderson .Paak (Saturday, October 8 @ 5:30, Home Away Stage)

Despite being an active performer for most of this decade, 2016 marks the year of Anderson .Paak. After performing relentlessly at this year’s SXSW, Paak gained a lot of airplay and exposure in the aftermath. It’s not difficult to see why. This R&B performer is gifted at singing and rapping and being able to do that while playing complicated beats on the drums all at the same time. His performance on the second weekend will be one of the most talked about sets of the weekend and is not to be missed.

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Kacey Musgraves (Sunday, October 2 @ 2:00, Samsung Stage)

Kacey Musgraves is one of those country singers that likes to sing songs that go against the flow of the traditional conservative country music genre. Singing about questioning religion, acceptance of homosexuality, smoking weed, and practicing safe sex, she almost sounds like she’s from Austin. With a great voice and top notch band behind her, Musgraves’ set promises to be a perfect way to start the final day of the weekend.

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Die Antwoord (Friday, September 30/October 7 @6:00, Honda Stage)

Besides the rumor that Die Antwoord may or may not be breaking up, this won’t be a performance to miss. The South African rap-rave group are bound to give festival-goers a wild experience. Lyrics are performed in a combination of Afrikaans, Xhosa, and English with a healthy helping of profanity sprinkled throughout. With a new album dropping only weeks before the festival, their set promises to be full of energy and plenty of dirty hijinks. Parents don’t bring your kids to this one.

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Pete Yorn (Sunday, October 2/October 9 @ 3:00, Miller Light Stage)

Pete Yorn rocketed onto the music scene in 2001 with his debut album musicforthemorningafter. Critics praised him, A-list celebrities attended his shows, and other songwriters either lavished him with praise or cursed him. After a successful sophomore album, Yorn increasing;y started withdrawing from the music scene. This year sees him with a new album out and giving fans a rare chance to catch him live, and new fans a chance to hear what made him such a sensation at the turn of the century.

The 15th annual Austin City Limits Festival takes place September 30 – October 2 and October 7 – 9 at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. To see the whole lineup and get tickets visit aclfestival.com. 

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