What to know before you go, who to see, and who to skip
By Sarah Thurmond & Madeline Hollern with Chrissy Dickerson & Darcie Duttweiler
Photo by Bryan C. Parker
The second weekend of Austin City Limits Music Festival is upon us. For those of you making the trek out to Zilker Park, there are advantages to attending the latter half of the fest. You get to see several acts that weren’t on the bill last weekend, and you come to the festival knowing which acts were the must-sees from last weekend and which ones left music fans feeling a little flat. (Yeah, we’re talking to you, JAY-Z). Here’s a list to help make the second weekend a memorable one—in a good way.
Know Before You Go
We cannot stress it enough: Plan on getting to the fest early! Know how to get to the festival as easily as possible.
When it comes to eating, be strategic. The lines for Shake Shack were huuuuuuge last weekend. We’ll just assume the out-of-towners were sticking to the familiar, but for you locals, c’mon, there’s Micklethwait immediately to your left.
New Acts to Check Out
Bands only playing the second weekend you don’t want to miss
Dale and Ray
Fri., 12:30 p.m., Honda Stage
Local favorites Dale Watson and Asleep at the Wheel frontman Ray Benson released their first collaboration in January. Catch the lively gray-haired country crooners performing as a duo and listen for their single “Feelin’ Haggard,” a tribute to the late and great Merle Haggard. If we know Benson, there’s bound to be a surprise guest or two.
Fri., 12:30 p.m., American Express Stage
Philadelphia’s Ron Gallo has had a breakout year, drawing praise for his latest garage rock–infused album, Heavy Meta, from folks like the Guardian, American Songwriter, and NPR. His rollicking shows were a big hit at this year’s South by Southwest Festival, so expect more of the same satisfaction this time around.
Eagles of Death Metal
Fri., 5:15 p.m., Barton Springs Stage
Although Eagles of Death Metal came to prominence in 2015 after being on stage during the horrific Bataclan shooting in Paris, they have actually been around since 1998. Don’t let the cheeky name fool you—the group has nothing to do with the head-banging genre. The California-based rock band has been described as “a mash-up of punk, rockabilly, and Rolling Stones–style boogie.”
Sat., 5 p.m., BMI Stage
Sure, she’s a beautiful model and ex-wife of Jack White, but Karen Elson is proving herself to be a formidable singer-songwriter. Blending influences from her English roots and her adopted hometown of Nashville, she creates folk-tinged songs that envelop you in a world that’s haunting and lyrical.
Sat., 6 p.m., Honda Stage
Hailing from Oxford, England, Glass Animals formed in 2010 and ever since have been spitting out indie rock/pop songs full of eclectic sounds influenced by everything from the Beach Boys to hip-hop. The band’s live shows are geared toward getting the crowd dancing and singing along to hits like “Season 2 Episode 3” and “Agnes.”
Sun., 12:30 p.m., Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage
The Austin-based country and western band may style themselves as a throwback act, but behind the 1970s moustaches and flashy embroidered suits is a genuine music group. Songs like “Drinkin’ Problem” and “Make a Little” are rooted in classic country structures and breezy, easy-listening music. If you’re into two-stepping, this set is where you’ll find it.
Sun., 1:15 p.m., Barton Springs Stage
Expect an emotional performance from vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jackson Phillips, the one-man show behind indie rock–synthpop outfit Day Wave. Inspired by the sounds of the Beach Boys, Joy Division, and New Order, the Oakland-based act released its debut album The Days We Had this summer.
Sun., 3:15 p.m., Miller Lite Stage
This brother-sister duo from New Zealand crafts catchy yet moody electro-pop tunes with lyrics that revolve around themes like love and relationships and provoke comparisons to Taylor Swift and Lorde, a fellow Kiwi who actually co-wrote their song “Heartlines.”
Photo by Greg Noire
Who Not to Miss
These musicians slayed us Weekend 1—they are worth the watch
Fri., 7:15 p.m., Barton Springs Stage
Get as close as you can to the stage. Solange’s concerts are performance art in the highest sense, and it’s not made to be seen from far away. As an overall visually pleasing show with bright stage colors and powerful dancing, it’s not to be missed. But what really steals the show is, of course, Solange’s captivating soft-pitched vocals. Prepare to be inspired after her empowering set.
Sat., 3 p.m., Miller Lite Stage
Already making a name for himself in 2017, this young artist from New Orleans sealed his status as the next big thing in music through his set last weekend. Think a mixture of Gary Clark Jr. and Leon Bridges.
Chance the Rapper and Run the Jewels
Sat., 8 p.m., Honda Stage; Sun., 6:15 p.m., Honda Stage
You don’t have to be a hip-hop fan to enjoy these two artists. Bringing a diverse music lineup and high-octane energy, they performed some of our favorite shows from the first weekend.
Sun., 3:15 p.m., Barton Springs Stage
Our high expectations were not let down with this much-anticipated indie-rock band. The lead singer’s ability to deliver chilling vocals while drumming was impressive, but the fact that the pure quality of the band brought in a crowd between the ages of 16 and 64 says enough.
Who to Skip
We kinda wish we hadn’t wasted our precious time on these acts. Sorry, not sorry.
Don’t they say once you’ve seen one DJ, you’ve seen them all? Although the set was full of catchy dance beats (some his, some others), we suggest soaking up live instrumentals instead.
Controversial, we know, but he was kind of phoning it in. The first half of his set contained mostly new music, and if you’re not familiar with it, you’ll find it a little boring. The second half, which was like an all-time-favorites medley, was much more lively. Still, he played one encore and ended way short of his allotted time. Suffice it to say, we were not impressed.
Portugal. The Man.
As fans for the past five-plus years, we were a bit disappointed to hear the band get totally lost jamming without much direction of a set list. (One of our friends commented, “When did they become Mars Volta?”) We appreciate a good guitar or drum solo and some experimentation, but when you’re doing a festival, the crowd wants to sing along to the songs that gave the band their rise to fame. They should know better.
Unless you really, really, really loved Live or Ice Cube in the ‘90s, there’s no excuse not to go check out some of the newer bands playing at the same time as those acts, like Cody Jinks, whose country music we found refreshing, or Angel Olsen or Karen Elson (see above), two female artists who write powerful songs with intricate arrangements.