Our Austin City Limits Music Festival team is getting ready for three days of music at Zilker Park. Here, they share their top bands to see each day.
Wheeler Brothers. 1 p.m. Austin Ventures. Austin-based Americana/rock band Wheeler Brothers play with a similar large-scale sensibility as groups such as the Avett Brothers and Band of Horses.
Father John Misty. 3:15 p.m. Austin Ventures. J. Tillman, who previously played drums for vocally focused folkies Fleet Foxes, reinvented his solo career this year with Father John Misty. On his recent album, “Fear Fun,” Tillman portrays a twisted dreamscape with breezy and biting folk rock.
The Roots. 6 p.m., Bud Light. Veteran Philadelphia outfit also known as Jimmy Fallon’s house band, the Roots play a frenetic live set that is part hip-hop powerhouse and part lesson in music history.
Jack White. 8 p.m. AMD Stage. White Stripe, Raconteur, Dead Weather-man, now just plain old Jack, with two bands (one all male, one female) and a career-spanning catalog on display.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse. 8 p.m. Bud Light. A lot of Neil’s fans probably will be relieved to know that the band has been mostly shying away from the songs on this year’s “Americana” album; they might be curious about the songs in the set that appear on Crazy Horse’s upcoming collection of new original material, out Oct. 30; they’ll be excited to hear the classics in the set.
Zola Jesus. 1:15 pm. Honda. Her gothy melodrama plays well in a club; no idea how it will do outside.
Father John Misty. 3:15 p.m. Austin Ventures. I am nobody’s Fleet Foxes fan, but this outing by their drummer has produced intriguing, complicated classic rock.
Michael Kiwanuka. 4:30 p.m. Austin Ventures. This British-Ugandan acoustic soul singer gets under your skin.
The Roots. 6 p.m. Bud Light. The world’s great hip-hop band doesn’t tour much anymore.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse. 8 p.m. Bud Light. This is Neil Young and Crazy Horse; your argument is invalid.
DEBORAH SENGUPTA STITH
Sonámbulo. 2:20 p.m. Zilker Stage. I continue to hope that as ACL Fest promoters C3 Presents branch their Lollapalooza brand into Latin America, more bands will begin to trickle into the ACL lineup. As usual, this year’s schedule has scant offerings of Latin American sounds, but this band from Costa Rica that boasts members from Costa Rica, Cuba, Colombia and El Salvador drops energetic upbeat grooves perfect for a midafternoon dance party.
Big K.R.I.T. 3 p.m. Honda. Easily the most rugged rapper ever booked at ACL Fest, the 24-year-old from Mississippi is straight Dirty South, lifting the gauntlet dropped in the ’90s by the likes of OutKast and Goodie Mob for the new millennium. Tight harmonies drizzle through quick-spit “country and proud” Deep South street scenes. Lean back.
Michael Kiwanuka. 4:30 p.m. Austin Ventures. When this soulful young Brit works Otis Redding’s territory, as on ‘Tell Me A Tale,” the gripping, cinematic lead track of his full-length debut “Home Again,” sign me up, I’m totally on board, like it on Facebook, call me a fan. When he backpedals into slow acoustic folk and seems old beyond his years in a way that’s less timeless wisdom and more “hmm, my mom might actually like this,” he starts to lose me.
The Roots. 6 p.m. Bud Light. The original instrumental hip-hop act, this 25-year-old collective has always pushed a pioneering sound. Their 1999 release, “Things Fall Apart,” is an undeniable classic. Under the musical visionary guidance of anchor members drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, the group has matured into something extraordinary. 2011’s “undun” was a tour de force, beautifully orchestrated, epically conceived and breathtakingly executed.
Antibalas. 7 p.m. Zilker. Trombonist Aaron Johnson served as musical director for Broadway hit “Fela,” which introduced mainstream America to Fela Kuti, the Nigerian musical genius and revolutionary who pioneered afrobeat as a form. A fitting endeavor, as the Brooklyn-based 11-piece with more than a decade of grooves under its belt is easily this country’s premiere afrobeat outfit. Like the music of Kuti’s own band, Antibalas delivers ballistic grooves that are both stridently political and irresistibly danceable. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself shaking your stuff shamelessly as you occupy ACL.
Rufus Wainwright. 2 p.m. Bud Light. What a weird setting for one of this generation’s most accomplished songwriters, who’s usually more at home in ornate theaters.
Metric. 4 p.m. AMD. Consistently catchy for more than a decade, this Canadian new wave/rock outfit delivers danceable hooks one right after another.
The Roots. 6 p.m., Bud Light. In this time of bitter partisanship, it feels like the Roots’ hip-hop cool is one of those rare Things Everyone Can Agree On.
Gotye. 7 p.m. Barton Springs. Beguiling Australian singer has gone from nowhere to everywhere, and a breakout fest spot feels like a very real possibility.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse. 8 p.m. Bud Light. A classic rock force of nature teams with his perfect backing band. Is it too late to extend his set to eight hours instead of two?
Sonámbulo. 2:20 p.m. Zilker. Latin American beats meet African grooves. This Costa Rican-based band is part of a psychedelic tropical music movement that’ll get you dancing. They were invited to ACL after a successful appearance at Festival Imperial, a major music festival in Costa Rica.
La Vida Bohème. 4 p.m. Zilker. These Venezuelan dance rockers have the Latin alternative music world buzzing. The guys are masters at energizing crowds with rock anthems such as “Radio Capital,” and they ooze charisma and passion. Hopefully a big crowd will let festival organizers know that ACL needs more infusions of cutting-edge Latin American sounds.
Michael Kiwanuka. 4:30 p.m. Austin Ventures. Although it’d probably be better to check him out at a venue like the Cactus Cafe, Kiwanuka provides the perfect afternoon chill-out music before you shake your hips later.
The Roots. 6 p.m. Bud Light. There’s a reason they’re called legendary. Now if we can somehow get them to share the stage for a song with ACL performers New Orleans’ brass band the Soul Rebels, that would be pure goodness. The Soul Rebels have been an opening act for the Roots in the past.
Antibalas. 7 p.m. Zilker. Now this is the show that makes you forget about all the stress-provoking issues in your life. The soothing Afrobeat rhythms are sure to make you groove.
Sonámbulo. 2:20 p.m. Zilker. The name means “sleepwalker,” but this band’s heady fusion of African, traditional and contemporary Latin American beats isn’t likely to leave anybody somnolent. The members, who hail from Costa Rica, Cuba, Columbia and El Salvador, drew their initial inspiration from Costa Rican circus performances.
Lee Fields & the Expressions. 5:30 p.m. Zilker. A true soul survivor, Fields earned the nickname “Little J.B.” in the 1970s with his James Brown-inspired style and became an Ace Records and Southern circuit mainstay in the 1990s. Along the way, he was discovered by British rare groove collectors and fans of old-school funk, and he’s finally broken through to the larger audience he deserves in the last few years with stunning, old-school R&B sides such as “Faithful Man” and “You’re the Kind of Girl.”
Steve Earle. 7 p.m. Austin Ventures. So much a part of the Texas canon now that you’ll hear lame cover bands performing his “Copperhead Road” at high school reunions, Earle still has the power to smack you over the head when you need it. Here’s hoping his set includes “That All You Got?,” his defiant new song (performed by his fictional protégé on this season of HBO’s “Treme”).
Antibalas. 7 p.m. Zilker. Their new, self-titled album is killer, and onstage, they’re a force with which to be reckoned, as befits a band building on the Afrobeat legacy of the legendary Fela Kuti. Members of Antibalas were involved in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Fela!” and have collaborated with Fela’s son Femi, as well as a long list of notables that includes the Roots, Paul Simon, and Amadou and Mariam.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse. 8 p.m. Bud Light. Their new release “Americana,” a collection of rejiggered folk songs, is not going to make anyone forget “Rust Never Sleeps,” but Neil Young’s concerts with Crazy Horse are worth it for the majestic feedback freakouts alone.
ERIC S. PULSIFER
Caveman. 11:45 a.m. Honda. Brooklyn band Caveman is far from primitive. Their guitar-driven polyrhythmic rock will be music to the ears of fans of Local Natives or Grizzly Bear.
Gardens & Villa. 2 p.m. BMI. Dream-pop with synths and a funky edge, Gardens & Villa get bonus points for having a lead singer who also plays flute.
Father John Misty. 3:15 p.m. Austin Ventures. Given J. Tillman’s festival-friendly pedigree and some positive word-of-mouth from a May show in Austin, this should be a early afternoon crowd-pleaser.
Kishi Bashi. 6 p.m. BMI. A man, a violin and a looping pedal: It’s a familiar setup now thanks largely to festival circuit mainstay Andrew Bird, but Kishi Bashi’s beautiful sound stands out by leaning more toward Owen Pallett than Bird — slightly bizarre but instantly palatable.
Antibalas. 7 p.m. Zilker. Big, bold jazz horns and afrobeat percussion offer the perfect world-music topper to the day before the big-name headliners.