Listen to Austin 360 Radio

ACL Fest 2013: Friday critics' picks

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Dave Gahan and Depeche Mode are one of this year’s headliners at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

MICHAEL CORCORAN

11:15 a.m. The Orwells. Young, crunchy rock band from Chicago. Gotta start with ringing guitars. (Honda Stage)

Noon. Fidlar. Forget it, dog, life’s a risk. These punks could be fun at noon. (Bud Light)

1:30 p.m. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. I call this a Nguyen Nguyen situation, as this S.F. band is a quirky chill after all that angst. (Bud Light)

2:30 p.m. Shovels & Rope. This married duo trades drums and guitars after nearly every song, but they share a love for gritty country and twangy blues. Think Rod Stewart if he grew up in South Carolina. (Austin Ventures)

4 p.m. Fun. This big, bombastic pop band might be claustrophobic in a club, but the green, green grass of Zilker should make a nice spread, even for we who are not young. (AMD)

5 p.m. Okkervil River. “The Silver Gymnasium” might not grab you like “The Stage Names,” but the new songs do wash over like nerdy Springsteen. And this band is really starting to connect in delicious new ways. (Honda)

6 p.m. J.D. McPherson. This could be the sleeper of the day, as this Okie blaster’s brand of New Orleans R&B is pure and intoxicating. (Zilker Tent)

7:30 p.m. Queens of the Stone Age. Seen them a few times before, and they’re like the Red Hot Chili Peppers in that they come off as the greatest band in the world for 20 minutes. With the heralded new “Like Clockwork” LP they should go deeper. (Bud Light)

8:30 p.m. Muse. Confession: I don’t totally get this band. They’re kinda like the Cult 20 years ago, where everyone’s into them, but name three songs. So, let’s give ’em another chance. (Samsung Galaxy)

DEBORAH SENGUPTA STITH

11:20 a.m. Latasha Lee & the Black Ties. Backed by Carnival Beats, the toughest hip-hop production house in Texas, local R&B artist Lee offers a gritty, sensual take on retro soul. (Austin Ventures)

12:20 p.m. Dana Falconberry. The young Austinite paints whimsical, pastoral pop-folk soundscapes with lovely dulcet tones. (Austin Ventures)

1:30 p.m. Thao & the Get Down Stay Down. Thao Nguyen’s band of quirky folk rockers dons an air of edgy, populist defiance on the 2013 release ‘We the Common.’ They wear it very well. (Bud Light)

3 p.m. Pacha Massive. Dominican born DJ/producer/multi-instrumentalist Nova drops dreamy downtempo grooves that lace seductive vocals in English and Spanish with shimmery keyboards, percussive polyrhytms and echoes of hip-hop and dub. (Zilker Tent)

4:30 p.m. Blind Boys of Alabama. If the opportunity to catch a legendary group — whose transcendent sounds of salvation span more than 70 years, persevering through segregation to provide a soundtrack to both the Civil Rights movement and the inauguration of President Barack Obama — doesn’t persuade you, consider this: Their latest album, due out days before the fest, was produced by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who at the very least will be hanging out backstage (he’s on the lineup with his other band, the Shouting Matches). (Zilker Tent)

6 p.m. Vampire Weekend. On their brilliant 2013 release “Modern Vampires of the City,” the beloved New Yorkers add an extra layer of emotional depth and complexity to their wildly intelligent, ridiculously catchy indie pop. (AMD)

7 p.m. Kaskade. DJ Ryan Raddon’s ecstasy-inducing electronic dance music floats to the top of the genre. Also, a good way to kill a few minutes before staking your spot for Depeche Mode. (Honda)

8 p.m. Depeche Mode. The soundtrack to your angsty, disenchanted youth. (AMD)

RAMON RAMIREZ

11 a.m. Wild Nothing. Aristocratic, jangly rock that’s been on the indie stardom bubble since 2010. The aggressively pleasant songs from this spring’s “Empty Estate” make ideal entrance theme music. (Samsung Galaxy Stage)

Noon. Asleep at the Wheel. There will be a day when ACL Fridays are sans the Ray Benson keynote address. Until then, I’m not considering the notion of an extended brunch. (AMD)

1 p.m. Savages. Tribal, hammer of Thor post-punk from four London-based ladies. Their noisy debut album, “Silence Yourself,” dropped in May and has been endorsed by America’s leading post-record-store snobs. (Honda)

2:30 p.m. Jimmy Eat World. If you don’t adore emo sacred script “Clarity” and breakout VH1 classic “Bleed American” (later shipped eponymously because the record came out in the fall of 2001), your music-listening core is broken and dishonest. (Samsung Galaxy)

3:30 p.m. School of Rock. It’s just like the movie — children turning out hard rock standards. A cursory YouTube voyage reveals performances that are equal parts adorable, empowering and righteous. (Austin Kiddie Limits)

4 p.m. Fun. Fun fact: Kanye West and Jay Z were all set to use the chorus for “We Are Young” on their 2011 album “Watch the Throne,” but Fun. got to that hook first. (AMD)

4:30 p.m. Local Natives. I keep writing these dudes off as standard-fare, millennial twee pop, but the Los Angeles band continues to churn out satisfying, great albums. (Samsung Galaxy Stage)

5 p.m. Jake Bugg. An English singer-songwriter with poise and a hand stocked with face cards, the 19-year-old sings honestly about drinking to remember, smoking to forget. (Austin Ventures)

6 p.m. Vampire Weekend. Privilege-soaked Ivy League rock for the rebellious letterman. (AMD)

6:30 p.m. Arctic Monkeys. They’ve had four albums since you last read about them; it’s all exemplary, spirited British rock. (Samsung Galaxy Stage)

7:30 p.m. Queens of the Stone Age. Kudos to ACL’s scheduling subcommittee for programming Josh Homme and his muscular, kick-in-the-door hard rock misfits for sunset. (Bud Light)

8 p.m. Depeche Mode. You kinda have to. (AMD)

ERIC PULSIFER

11:15 a.m. The Orwells. These teenage garage rockers are just out of high school, but the Chicago five-piece’s sound is rock ‘n’ roll wise beyond the members’ ages. Recommended for fans of the Replacements, the Black Lips, the White Stripes and their tourmate, Fidlar. (Honda Stage)

12 p.m. Fidlar. Playing a stage fitting a band that explosively professes a love of cheap beer (see: “Cheap Beer”), this LA skate punk act brings a whole lotta rowdy rock for noon on a school day. (Bud Light Stage)

1:20 p.m. Desert Noises. With a harmony-heavy psychedelic folk sound that brings to mind Fleet Foxes, Local Natives or Lord Huron, Desert Noises is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Expect their name in bigger font and closer to the top of posters at future festivals — these Utah boys are going places. (Austin Ventures)

3:30 p.m. Pinback. This San Diego band has been making layered tracks of tight and light staccato prog rock executed with clockwork precision for more than a decade and has developed a signature sound like no other — think Modest Mouse or a more mechanical Built to Spill. (Bud Light)

5 p.m. Jake Bugg. Young British singer-songwriter has been heralded by some as the next coming of Bob Dylan, though a less sensational comparison might be to Ryan Adams with a pinch of Blur unplugged. (Austin Ventures)

ERIC WEBB

11:15 a.m. Wild Nothing. Summer is dead, fall is here, and Wild Nothing’s chill dream-pop is the perfect set to ease into the fest. Half surf holiday, half sun-dappled stroll in the park, all delightful reverie. (Samsung Galaxy)

Noon. Fidlar. Lo-fi nu-punk brats for whom Bud Light is too highbrow. Wake up, thrash your head (or do some awkward head bobs to the side), shout your throat raw. (Bud Light)

1:30 p.m. Thao & the Get Down Stay Down. After being trampled in Fidlar’s mosh pit, set your broken bones to the jangly, bohemian melodies of smoke-voiced siren Thao Nguyen. Good vibes, or your money back. (Bud Light)

2:30 p.m. Jimmy Eat World. Your first feel-good singalong of the fest. Don’t worry, these emo elder statesmen know what side their bread is buttered on. You’ll get your hits like “Sweetness.” It just takes some time, little girl. (Samsung Galaxy)

4 p.m. Fun. No. You’re not too good for this. Embrace the zeitgeist. (AMD)

6 p.m. Vampire Weekend. The Ivy League heartthrobs have released one of the best albums of the year so far — it would be a waste to not see “Unbelievers” live. Plus, there is nothing undead about their live shows. (AMD)

7:45 p.m. Purity Ring. Spooky, wobbly beats meet pixie vocalist meet chilling lyrics. Halloween will come a couple weeks early. (Austin Ventures)

8:30 p.m. Muse. Depeche Mode isn’t a bad bet, but Muse is custom-built for arena rock. There will be galactic lights, triumphant choruses and much Queen channeling. (Samsung Galaxy)

ERIN J. WALTER

1 p.m. Savages. Word from London is that co-ed post-punks Savages should be seen to be heard. Can’t wait. Bring on the howling gothic dance party. (Honda)

2:30 p.m. Jimmy Eat World. Celebrating a new record and 20 years as a band, the Arizona four-piece is much more than “The Middle.” I skipped sleep before my first marathon to see Jimmy Eat World live (and it was well worth it). Brush up on the early masterpieces or grab new album “Damage” — just come ready to sing along. (Samsung Galaxy)

4 p.m. Fun. Anyone who owns Fun.’s uplifting, anthem-stocked album “Some Nights” already knows. If you don’t, what are you waiting for? For once, the bandwagon is entirely justified. I imagine nothing less than pure pop joy on stage and in the crowd. (AMD)

6:15 p.m. Wild Belle. This brother-sister duo may be from the Chicago area, but they promise to bring a welcome island-meets-disco groove as day one of the fest dances toward dusk. (Austin Ventures)

8 p.m. Depeche Mode. Expect an epic set from Muse, and I may try to split my time between the two headliner stages. But the high-schooler in me can’t miss the possibility of “Master and Servant” or any of Depeche Mode’s long list of unforgettable ’80s synth hits. (AMD)

CHAD SWIATECKI

Friday

11:20 a.m. Latasha Lee & the Blackties. Word is C3 Presents decision-makers flipped so hard for this sultry young soul singer that they booked her for ACL Fest having never seen her live. They made the right choice. (Austin Ventures)

Noon. Fidlar. From an early day slot at last year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest to now, this bunch of snotty L.A. punks has had a remarkable upward trajectory fueled by two-minute odes to youth wasted and wasted youths. (Bud Light Stage)

3 p.m. Jimmy Eat World. Somewhat wrongly, this Arizona quartet got lumped in with the early ’90s emo movement when they’re really just an incredibly tight and heartfelt punkish pop-rock band. (Samsung Galaxy)

4 p.m. Fun. Singer Nate Ruess’ vocals are as big as all of outside anyway, so putting this bunch on a big outdoor stage is a perfect fit. There will be 10,000-plus singing to “Some Nights” and “We Are Young.” (AMD)

5 p.m. Jake Bugg. I’m suspicious that the haunting power of this young U.K. folkie’s tunes comes largely from a superb production job, so his ACL slot will be a test to see how authentic his showmanship is. (Austin Ventures)

7:30 p.m. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. They’ve been doing the screeching punk-blues thing for two-plus decades with no appreciable loss in intensity. Go, howl along and forget about anything else for a half hour or so. (Zilker Tent)