Austin City Limits 2019 Preview: 10 Bands to Watch

The 18th year of the granddaddy of Austin music fests, Austin City Limits Festival, kicks off at Zilker Park October 4th with a monster lineup of headliners, mid-tier acts and first-time festival performers. Guns N’ Roses, The Cure, and Tame Impala join Cardi B, Lizzo, and Childish Gambino (in a makeup of last year’s cancellation) on the main stages. But some of the best music appears down the bill with acts like Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes), Lizzo, and The Raconteurs (Jack White and Brendan Benson). Austin acts also get a chance to show their stuff at the festival, with Gary Clark Jr. leading the way for Black Pistol Fire, Otis the Destroyer, Jane Ellen Bryant, Golden Dawn Arkestra, Blackillac, and Abhi the Nomad.

The lineup is solid with a slate of Late Night shows, ACL TV tapings and morning events planned around the two-weekend shindig presented by C3 Presents and Live Nation. The aforementioned Raconteurs tape an ACL TV episode October 3 with Catalonia’s Rosalia and UK chart-topper Billie Eilish. Details on tapings are available at the ACL TV website. C3 organizes a number of aftershows at various Austin venues following the festival. Some highlights include Gary Clark Jr for a two-night run at Stubb’s BBQ October 3-4. Sold-out shows by Idles and Jenny Lewis along with sets by garage punks Fidlar (Oct 3) and The Comet is Coming (Oct 6) at The Scoot Inn. Check the entire Late Night Show lineup at the ACL Festival website.

Friday, October 3

Guns N’ Roses – American Express stage – 7:30-10p

Late 80’s rockers Guns N’ Roses make their first Austin City Limits Fest appearance thirty-two years after their debut hit Appetite for Destruction smacked listeners upside the head with their smashmouth style of hard rock. Axl Rose may not be the young, angry youth of that era any longer, but that won’t stop hordes of fans from flocking to the east end of Zilker to catch the Rock n Roll Hall of Famers. Slash (guitar), Duff McKeegan (bass), Dizzy Reed (keys), Frank Ferrer (drums), Richard Fortus (guitar) and Melissa Reese (keys) round out the touring lineup for what promises to be a spectacle to remember.

Tame Impala – Honda Stage – 8:15-9:30p 

Australia’s Tame Impala have yet to drop a curiously delayed follow-up to hit album Currents (2015), although a few singles have been teased. The psych rock act from Perth, led by Kevin Parker played the festival twice before, most recently in 2015 in support of that record. We caught the band at Float Fest last year when the Aussies were booked to headline the event. It was a one-off event for the Perth natives who didn’t play many North American dates last year. The group pulled out all the stops, launching confetti cannons, pyrotechnics and lasers to punctuate the party feel of the performance by Parker and company. Expect a similar experience this time around.

The Raconteurs – American Express Stage – 5:30-6:30p

The pairing of Jack White and Brendan Benson under the moniker The Raconteurs sounds much like you would expect, with beautiful harmonies on top of blues, soul, rock and Americana-influenced sounds that results in music that instantly grabs the listener. With their first studio effort in 10 years, Help Us Stranger out this year, the group has reestablished those parameters and then some. The record is a pleasurable listen hinting at live performances that promise to elicit an enthusiastic reaction from festival fans much like they did the last time the band performed at the festival eleven years ago. With that kind of sparse recording and touring schedule, you’d be smart to put this rare live set on your schedule

Weyes Blood – BMI Stage – 4:30-5:30p

While headliners are obvious recommendations, one of the benefits of attending a music festival is the opportunity to discover new acts. There is no better stage to do that than BMI, which books completely unique lineups from weekend one to two each year at ACL Festival. Their happy hour guest on Friday is Weyes Blood nee Natalie Mering. Described as the Kinks meet WWII or Bog Seger meets Enya, the premise is intriguing enough to put on your schedule. 

Saturday, October 4

The Cure – Honda Stage – 8-10p

Make no mistake, Saturday’s headliner is the UK’s The Cure. Despite the group appearing on the Honda Stage, they’ve been given the longer two-hour set vs Childish Gambino’s 90-minute allotment across the park at American Express. Returning to the festival six years after their 2013 appearance, The Cure get both a better and longer time slot to hopefully show off the new material band leader Robert Smith has been talking up. With brazen statements about this upcoming record being a landmark album, we’re cautiously optimistic that a historic set may occur. 

Gary Clark Jr. – American Express Stage – 5-6p

Austin’s resident heir to legendary guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Clark Jr. gets a coveted spot on the main stage Saturday. The blues virtuoso is touring in support of his ground-breaking third album, This Land. The title track’s controversial video announced a new, bolder Clark who put harsh, social commentary about America’s racist past front and center similar to fest mate Childish Gambino’s “This is America” in 2018. The two are not alone as black artists re-examining this theme. Beyonce previously has explored the theme in the video for her 2017 track, “Formation.” This is a set you won’t want to miss as Clark staked his name on his seminal appearance at the BMI Stage at ACL Festival back in 2011. His triumphant return should not be missed,

Brittany Howard – Honda Stage – 4-5p

What can we say, we’re huge Alabama Shakes fans, which really means we’re massive Brittany Howard fans. The singular talent that is Howard fuels the Shakes as it does her first solo record, which just dropped. The record, Jaime, is named for the sister Howard idolized as a child. The four-time Grammy-winner is releasing this solo effort after side projects, Thunderbitch and the lesser known Bermuda Triangle. But the intense performer wanted to make a more personal record, one that spoke directly to her formative years and how she got to the place she’s at now, an internationally recognized star. All this to ensure you, the music fan, get to the place at the festival to witness this amazing artist.

Sunday, October 5

Lizzo – Miller Lite – 7-8p

The final day of ACL Festival is when we get to relax a little, which means we’re planning on finishing up the weekend by getting our dance on with the enabling messages of dance hit maven Lizzo, who recently topped both the Billboard album and singles charts simultaneously. When we first caught this now red-hot act, she was getting plenty of attention from the younger set, playing a 450 capacity room for her show in Austin just two years ago. In the ensuing time, the body-positive artist has amassed a huge following, culminating in high profile music festival slots like Sunday’s headlining set at Miller Lite. This is the same stage Spoon held court on two years ago. Expect a dance party of epic proportions. Lizzo is going to bring the “Juice.”

Idles – Honda Stage – 2-3p

English rockers Idles return to Austin after selling out Barracuda last time the group came through town. The red-hot act also sold-out their Late Night Show appearance at Mohawk on Saturday (10/5), so this is the only chance fans have to catch the Brit rockers put on what has been hailed as the best rock n roll show currently touring out of the UK. We dutifully included the group in our plans to see what we’ve been missing. Besides it’s Sunday, if our Lizzo recommendation didn’t already let you know the last day of the fest is for letting your hair down and getting a little crazy, you’re on board now. Get ready to jump into the mosh pit for this one.

Otis the Destroyer – Vrbo Stage – 11:15a-12:20p

We realize it’s a tall order asking you to get to the park early on Sunday for Austin’s Otis the Destroyer, but if you make it out to catch these hard-rock guitar heroes, you won’t regret it. It’ll be a good way to kick off the final of three days of live musical goodness at ACL Festival. Plus you’ll get to catch one of our favorite Austin guitarists, Taylor Wilkins, shred it with bandmates, Anthony Rucci (guitar), Andrew Dalton (bass) and Clellan Hyatt (drums). The band released a new EP, Cool Evil, in April that has hints of Fugazi and My Bloody Valentine in the music. Get ready to rock out.




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