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ACL Fest Gameplan: Kick Back & Rela

Staff Writer
Austin 360

There are many ways to approach a huge event like the Austin City Limits Music Festival. This year, in addition to our regular critics’ picks and artist spotlights, we’re offering gameplans, various strategies for how to approach the festival depending on what kind of experience you’re looking to have. For each gameplan, we’re providing both a suggested schedule and a playlist.

Today, the gameplan is for those who mostly want to take it easy and perhaps leave before the sundown headliners.

The playlist:ACL Fest Gameplan: Kick Back & Relax

The strategy: Don’t sweat the buzz-band throngs and the big-name draws; take roads less traveled toward an easygoing fest experience.

Essential gear:

  • Portable chair: It’s called “kick back,” which is kind of hard to do if you’re standing around all day.
  • Blanket: Because sometimes “kicking back” leads to “stretching out” when you’re on our deluxe relax-o-plan.

Non-essential gear:

  • iPad, if you want to catch up on some light reading between sets.
  • Binoculars, if your chair-and-blanket camp is remote enough to require long-distance visual assistance at times.

The gameplan

Friday

11:15 a.m.: Penny & Sparrow (Austin Ventures, weekend two only). The local duo’s sweet, simple acoustic pop sets our gameplan mood nicely.

12:15 p.m.: Asleep at the Wheel (Honda, weekend one only). Western swing is get-up-and-dance music, yes, but it’s also some of the most enjoyably breezy stuff you’ll hear all weekend.

1:15 p.m.: Jones Family Singers (Bevintel). Their Texas gospel music is all about a good time, but don’t be surprised if they get you up out of your chair.

2:15 p.m.: Jimmy Cliff (Honda). Like gospel, reggae is great feel-good music. Groove along if you wish, but this stuff is prime for lawn-sprawl chillin’ too.

3:15 p.m.: James Bay (RetailMeNot, weekend two; 12:15 p.m. at Samsung Galaxy weekend one). British acoustic soul-pop singer gets a little intense at times, but his music’s mostly laid-back enough to fit the bill.

4:15 p.m.: Lonely Biscuits (BMI, weekend two only). Because how could a band called Lonely Biscuits not be a kickin’-back good time? They’re a bit jammy, but that works on this mission.

6:15 p.m.: Jon Pardi (BMI, weekend one only). There’s not much mainstream country at ACL Fest, but Pardi will provide a swig of devil-may-care beer-drinkin’ fare.

7:15 p.m.: Blackberry Smoke (Austin Ventures). Southern-rock’s a little risky, as you never know when your stone groove might get driven off the edge by a “Free Bird” overdrive. But it’s worth a shot, if twee glee with Belle & Sebastian across the park isn’t your speed.

Saturday

11:15 a.m: Blue Bear (Austin Ventures, weekend one only). The local indie-popsters are skiffle-ish enough to start the day off right.

12:30 p.m.: Spanish Gold (Samsung Galaxy). These semi-local heroes’ tune “Day Drinkin’” is practically an anthem for the Kick Back cause.

2:30 p.m.: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avnue (Honda). Brass will amp up the volume a bit, yes, but a dose of Crescent City jazz is almost a requirement for our gameplan.

3:30 p.m.: Ralph’s World (Austin Kiddie Limits; 2:30 p.m. weekend two). You don’t need to have kids along to appreciate the carefree joy of the AKL stage. Plus this band plays that Banana Splits song!

4:30 p.m.: The Head and the Heart (Samsung Galaxy). Late-afternoon sets on the Samsung Stage might be a bit too buzz-heavy, but Seattle’s indie-folk six-piece has the right vibe to be an exception.

5:30 p.m.: Lucius (Austin Ventures). Steer clear of the Icona/Azalea hyped showdown and bask in this Brooklyn pop band’s beautiful sunshine.

6:30 p.m.: Avett Brothers (Honda). This is about as “big” as we’ll get on the Kick Back agenda, but the Avetts’ acoustic charm works as a good daylight-ending Saturday finale.

Sunday

Noon: Wood & Wire (Austin Ventures, weekend two only). Bluegrass pickin’ will get you grinnin’ easy like Sunday morning.

1 p.m. Reuben & the Dark (Miller Lite). A little too anthemic, perhaps, but this gameplan pretty much demands a Canadian act, eh?

2:15 p.m. Jamestown Revival (Bevintel, weekend one only). Hometown acoustic groovers’ “California (Cast Iron Soul)” is just the right jam for our mindset.

4 p.m. Johnnyswim (BMI, weekend one only). This soulful Nashville duo is a bit strident but mostly buoyant enough not to harsh our mellow.

5 p.m. Jenny Lewis (Austin Ventures). Hipsters might make this too crowded for comfort, but Lewis’ country-tinged indie style works for what we’re after here.

6 p.m. Replacements (Samsung Galaxy). The reunion shows no doubt will be rowdy, but frontman Paul Westerberg once did a tour in which he allowed fans to lounge on a couch onstage, so he’s pretty much the architect of the Kick Back & Relax gameplan.