ACL Fest 2014: Friday's critics' picks
You’re trying to cram as much music as you can into three days at Zilker Park. Our team has plenty of suggestions of which acts not to miss on Friday.
DEBORAH SENGUPTA STITH
Sphynx (noon, Austin Ventures). Leopard print skinny jeans, catchy hooks and glitzy glam pop — what else do you need to set this thing off right?
Preatures (1 p.m. Austin Ventures). With a lush Jim Eno-produced debut album fresh off the presses (Sept. 30) these feisty Aussie rockers might be next year’s big thing.
Capital Cities (2:15 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). Bop around in “Kangaroo Court” with the groovy L.A. duo.
Bleachers (3:15 p.m. Miller Lite). Actual self-help benefits are inconclusive, but there’s an 83.9 percent chance standing in the middle of Zilker Park shouting “I Wanna Get Better” will fill you with the same exuberant joy that Jack Antonoff’s other band Fun. did last year.
Chvrches (4:15 p.m. Honda). Full of shimmery synths, wistful vocals and tricky dance beats, the Scottish trio produced one of the most satisfying electropop releases of 2013.
Sam Smith (5:15 p.m. Miller Lite). You might think you’ve heard “Stay With Me” too many times this summer but why not let Smith’s aching falsetto reach into your heart and hurt you like it’s the very first time?
Childish Gambino (6:15 p.m. Honda). Notoriously inconsistent live, comedian Donald Glover’s angsty rapper alter ego at least can be counted on to push boundaries. In this era of played out hip hop braggadocio and auto-tuned hooks that definitely counts for something.
Glitch Mob (7:15 p.m. Miller Lite). Champions of the L.A. beat scene throw down furious, driving electro dance tracks.
Outkast (8:15 p.m. Honda). Posing as southern pimps they demolished the residual East Coast/West Coast dynamic of ’90s hip-hop. Then they morphed into aliens, astrologers and post-millennial funkateers beckoning a second coming of George Clinton’s mothership. Get on board.
Barton Hills Choir (11:15 a.m. Sculpture). Get an early Belle & Sebastian fix when this local choir performs some of their songs – with B&S leader Stuart Murdoch sitting in.lake
Asleep at the Wheel (12:15 p.m. Honda). Check out what new addition Emily Gimble brings to the ACL institution of western swing.
Temples (1:15 p.m. Miller Lite). The sound of the British Invasion is revisited and revitalized through the tuneful explorations of this English foursome.
Robert Ellis (2 p.m. Austin Ventures). One of Americana’s most promising singer-songwriters, Ellis bends his native-Texan roots toward indie territory.
Lake Street Dive (3:15 p.m. Austin Ventures). A big hit at this year’s Old Settler’s Fest, Lake Street’s soulful jazz sound can connect beyond roots audiences.
Paolo Nutini (4:15 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). The charming Scottish pop-soul singer’s star is on the rise again after his first new album in five years.
J. Roddy Walston & the Business (5:15 p.m. Austin Ventures). Fresh off a taping of the “Austin City Limits” TV show, these charismatic Southern rockers are on fire and ready to burn brightly on the festival stage.
Dinner break (6:15 p.m., food court). You have to eat sometime. For me, Childish Gambino, Foster the People, Ozomatli and Jon Pardi add up to music to dine by.
Belle & Sebastian (7:15 p.m. RetailMeNot). To paraphrase the iconic Nigel Tufnel: “It’s like, how much more twee could this be? And the answer is, none. None more twee.”
Beck (8:15 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). Go ahead, Beck your heart out: Catch his headlining set at ACL Fest, then watch him open the 40th season of “Austin City Limits” on KLRU the following night.
Arum Rae (11:15 a.m. Austin Ventures). Former Austinite embraces blues, rock and soul with electronic beats to create a contemporary sound with a nostalgic spirit.
Jimmy Cliff (2:15 p.m. Honda). Legendary reggae, ska and soul musician still has the power to move audiences with both his new and iconic music, which includes songs like “The Harder They Come” and “Wonderful World, Beautiful People.”
Ana Tijoux (4:15 p.m. Sculpture). Since making her U.S. debut at SXSW 2010, this French-Chilean MC has made Austin a regular tour stop. Poetic rhymes plus a melodic flow have made her a force in the Latin hip-hop world.
Ozomatli (6:15 p.m. Sculpture). After nearly 20 years, party instigators and hip-hop/cumbia groove makers continue to blend multi-cultural rhythms that result in an infectious sound.
Outkast (8:15 p.m. Honda). The original southern hip-hop kings.
Arum Rae (11:15 a.m. Austin Ventures). Dusty, experimental jazz by way of country music back roads.
Sphynx (noon, Austin Ventures). Austin’s very own electrohedonists.
The Preatures (1 p.m. Austin Ventures). Groove-heavy rock with a hint of the Pretenders and a bonafide jam, “Is This How You Feel?”
Capital Cities (2:15 p.m., Samsung Galaxy). Cheeky, cheesy dance-pop bros not afraid of exuberance.
Bleachers (3:15 p.m. Miller Lite). For people who liked Fun. before they were overplayed and get defensive when forced to explain why they still kind of like Fun.
Chvrches (4:15 p.m. Honda). With one of the best albums of 2013 and a kaleidoscopic light show, they’re one of the fest’s few no-brainers.
Sam Smith (5:15 p.m. Miller Lite). Stay with him. An acoustic version of “Latch” or your money back!
Foster the People (6:15 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). There are worse ways to spend your night than a karaoke party in a park. Also: Mark Foster’s not a shabby dancer.
Belle & Sebastian (7:15 p.m. RetailMeNot). Step into their office, baby.
Outkast (8:15 p.m. Honda). This is it. You have laid awake at night, dreaming of one day shaking it like a Polaroid picture with Andre 3000 and Big Boi themselves. You are the speakerboxxx. You are the love below. Go to them, Lucy Lius and babydolls. Get on the floor.
Arum Rae (11:15 a.m. Austin Ventures). Brooklyn electro pop with purpose and perspective — Arum Rae’s Bandcamp.com hits like “Warranted Queen” and “Gold” are beautifully presented. I can’t wait to see what she offers in real life.
Shields of Faith (12:15 p.m. Sculpture). The gospel tent — like attending Sunday mass after years of aggressive indifference — brings comfort and inner peace whenever you pop in. But it’s always a tough sell up against bigger banners, and I’m circling the wagons early for this heavy believin’ brass band.
The Preatures (1 p.m. Austin Ventures). This is one of those fresh-faced slick bands with good ideas but not much of a record to run on beyond Joan Jett pop rock blast, “Is This How You Feel?” That single more than warrants a live look.
Moats (1:15 p.m. RetailMeNot). Members hail from working class English cities like Liverpool, and as Moats they write chips-to-the-center, sad beach rock tracks like “Toothache.”
Jimmy Cliff (2:15 p.m. Honda). It’s an easy call here between a 40-plus-year reggae icon and anyone else playing at the same time.
Bleachers (3:15 p.m. Miller Lite). Optimist Midwest sweater rock written by Fun. guys that know how to feel — big boy single “I Wanna Get Better” is an irrefutable rock research paper.
Chvrches (4:15 p.m. Honda). The Glasgow trio pronounces it “churches” and singles likes “Recover” are lively electronica undercut by fallen-in-the-well despair. Cuts are not, in fact, about Scotland’s failed bid for independence.
St. Vincent (5:15 p.m. RetailsMeNot). If we’re really nice, maybe Annie Clark gives us that dynamite “Dig a Pony” cover.
Ozomatli (6:15 p.m. Sculpture). Existing outside of the pop lexicon in this bubble of SoCal, seven-piece funk, Ozomatli tours endlessly and effortlessly. The band is to be held up and appreciated for its beautiful hustle.
Belle & Sebastian (7:15 p.m. RetailMeNot). Imaginative, aristocratic, always interesting, the Rough Trades Records centerpiece strikes back every four years or so. 2010’s Belle and Sebastian “Write About Love” is sneaky good, with a new record on deck for early 2015.
Outkast (8:15 p.m. Honda). Andre and Big Boi haven’t been in town as ‘Kast since the Austin Music Hall was a gross pit of sweat back in early 2001. You really need a reason to stick around for the best hip-hop collective of all time?
ERIN J. WALTER
The Barton Hills Choir (11:15 a.m. Sculpture). This choir of South Austin fifth- and sixth-graders kicks off ACL Fest with a set of largely Belle and Sebastian songs with Belle singer/songwriter Stuart Murdoch himself sitting in.
The Jones Family Singers (1:15 p.m. Sculpture). The Jones Family Singers, three generations of gospel/soul meets R&B/funk, will set the ACL bar for energy, musicianship and what “meaning it” looks like on stage.
Jimmy Cliff (2:15 p.m. Honda). Can Jimmy Cliff play all the time slots please? The reggae legend, with a joyfully raucous live show and unforgettable gems like “Many Rivers to Cross” to show for his more than 50-year career, is touring behind new album “Rebirth” (produced by Tim Armstrong of punk bands Rancid and Operation Ivy).
Lake Street Dive (3:15 p.m. Austin Ventures). Coed Brooklyn foursome meld jazz, soul and pop and are known for bringing down the house with their live performances. Fingers crossed LSD’s set includes their cover of “Rich Girl” by Hall & Oates.
Chvrches (4:15 p.m. Honda). Curses to whoever booked the ethereal power of synth pop band Chvrches in the same time slot as international MC and SXSW star Ana Tijoux. (Scientists, please hurry up and find a cure for being in only one place at one time.)
St. Vincent (5:15 p.m. RetailMeNot). Annie Clark says she “wanted the groove to be paramount” on her self-titled fourth album. Mission: accomplished. Expect a powerhouse performance that will make you dance and then stop you in your tracks to behold Clark’s shredding on guitar.
Ozomatli (6:15 p.m. Sculpture). Warmup for Outkast with the multigenre, multicultural block party vibe of these festival vets.
Outkast (8:15 p.m. Honda). Whatever you do, hydrate and replenish every ounce of energy for an epic, nonstop dance party to end night one.