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Austin summer music 2014: Kanye at X Games, a whole lot more

Peter Blackstock
Kanye West headlines the X Games on Saturday and heralds the start of the summer music season.

Summer music season in Central Texas gets off to a high-flying start this weekend with the opening of X Games Austin. Extreme action sports are a given at the X Games, but the event also boasts a robust music program that reflects the festival’s adventurous aesthetic.

General admission to all music performances is included with standard single-day or weekend passes and the big headliner for this year’s event, fresh off his French wedding, is rap superstar Kanye West, scheduled to play a 70-minute set at 11:20 p.m. Saturday on the Austin360 Amphitheater stage. A temperamental genius famous as much for his tabloid tantrums as his experimental, genre-expanding approach to hip-hop, West is a captivating live performer, a true artist who leaves his heart and soul on the stage. His appearance alone makes the $89 three-day pass to the X Games seem reasonable.

Kicking off the Saturday post-game program at 10 p.m. is fellow rapper Mac Miller, a young upstart from Pittsburgh who has blazed his way into the hip-hop big leagues over the past couple years. Earlier in the day, pop punk band Wavves and veteran punk rockers Bad Religion also play the big stage.

Friday’s lineup is headlined by Pretty Lights, a producer from Denver whose electronic compositions — lush, beautiful and innovative — fly in the face of EDM detractors who claim the genre is devoid of soul. Los Angeles club rocker Dillon Francis opens the post-game show and reggae-rock stoner champs Slightly Stoopid and indie rock skate enthusiasts Fmlybnd play earlier in the day.

Sunday’s main-stage show kicks off at 2:30 p.m. with the synthetic soul of Mayer Hawthorne, but there’s no real need to show up until after the men’s skate finals at 6 p.m. when hometown hero Gary Clark Jr., returning from a jaunt through European festivals, takes the stage. 2014 has been a huge year for Clark, with the bluesman winning his first Grammy, playing the national anthem at the NBA All-Star game and dropping one of the most intriguing hip-hop fusion collections of the year with his new mixtape “Blak and Blue.” Experimental rockers the Flaming Lips close out X Games music at 7:45 p.m.

In addition to the main stage, the X Games hosts music in three of the other festival “villages” set up throughout the Circuit of the Americas. The most notable is the KUTX Austin Music Experience stage which showcases local bands. Back in April KUTX program director Matt Reilly told us he jumped at the opportunity to host “a stage of incredible local talent in front of a truly international audience.” The lineup features a wide variety of Austin music from hip-hop act Magna Carda to muscular garage rock duo Black Pistol Fire and art rock outfit the Black and White Years.

The X Games also hosts DJs in the Velocity Lounge and a battle of the bands, which finds eight acts including four from Austin squaring off for the opportunity to win $25,000 on the Sound Factory Stage.

— D.S.S.

Although the settings won’t be as extreme, plenty of more music will be heard through the summer. Some highlights:


June 11: Ramblin’ Jack Elliott at Cactus Cafe. “They don’t call him Ramblin’ Jack because he travels around a lot,” the old saw goes about Elliott’s penchant for long-winded stories. It’s remarkable, though, that he does still travel around a lot at age 82, giving audiences a chance to hear a living legend of folk music whose history is intertwined with giants such as Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. — P.B.

June 12: Rodney Crowell at Texas Union Theater

June 13: Lucent Dossier Experience at Emo’s

June 13: The Whigs at Red 7

June 14: Scootenanny at Scoot Inn with Neon Indian (DJ Set), Octopus Project, Night Drive, Ishi, Holiday Mountain

June 14: Toadies at Stubb’s

June 15: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue at Emo’s

June 15: Groundwork Music Benefit at Holy Mountain

June 16: Andrew Bird & the Hands of Glory at Paramount. Bird’s current band includes a couple of ringers: North Carolina singer-songwriter Tift Merritt and pedal steel ace Eric Heywood. Musically, he’s been pushing in intriguing underground directions lately, including the June 3 release of an album of covers by New Mexico duo the Handsome Family. $42. — P.B.

June 18: Paula Cole at One World Theatre

June 19: Spanish Gold at Parish. “South of Nowhere,” the debut release from this trio featuring Austin’s Adrian Quesada, Dante Schwebel of Hacienda and My Morning Jacket’s Patrick Hallahan, dropped last month to high critical acclaim. Muscular but psychedelic, sentimental but paranoid, the band’s formula is evocative and thoroughly enthralling. $13 - D.S.S.

June 20: Blake Shelton at Austin360 Amphitheater

June 20: Quantic at Empire. In 2007, Will Holland, the British born DJ/producer/composer known as Quantic, relocated from London to Colombia, where he set up an analog studio and embarked on a series of collaborations with local musicians that blend funk and soul with Afro-Colombian sounds. His South by Southwest set at Vulcan Gas was quite possibly the best hip-switching, sweaty dance party of the 2014 fest. Peligrosa opens. $10 - D.S.S.

June 20: Tech N9ne at Emo’s

June 20: Young Marco at Kingdom

June 20: Negativland at Red 7

June 21: Cut Copy at Stubb’s

June 22: Texas Songwriters Association Hall of Fame Show at ACL Live. This year’s honorees at the annual show are Waylon Jennings, Buck Owens and K.T. Oslin. Performers include Oslin, Kris Kristofferson, Lee Roy Parnell, Bonnie Bishop, Jessi Colter and Shooter Jennings. $19-$59. — P.B.

June 22: Mountain Goats at Mohawk

June 23: Hundred Waters at Red 7

June 24: Too Short, E-40 at Mohawk

June 25: Foreign Exchange at North Door. Rapper Phonte, formerly of the excellent duo Little Brother, flexes his smooth crooning over Euro-cool city-slicker grooves courtesy of Dutch producer Nicolay. The group appears with a live band to flesh out the complex neo-soul sound beds. — D.S.S.

June 24: Amanda Shires at Cactus Cafe

June 26: Mewithoutyou at Mohawk

June 27: Brownout presents Brown Sabbath at Empire

June 27: Diarrhea Planet and Lee Bains & the Glory Fires at Red 7

June 27: Swans and Xiu Xiu at Mohawk

June 27: KYGO at the Parish

June 28: A-Trak at Emo’s


July 2: Devo at ACL Live

July 4: Elliot Lipp, Jacuzzi at Holy Mountain

July 4-5: A.I.R. Expo at the Mohawk. Exercise your freedom to headbang as this two-day event brings a barrage of hard rock and heavy metal to the Mohawk. Doom metal pioneers Pentagram headline on Friday and the Sword brings the noise on Saturday. $50 two-day pass. — D.S.S.

July 6: Wye Oak at the Parish

July 9: Summerland Tour with Everclear, Soul Asylum, Eve 6, Spacehog at ACL Live

July 10: Lionel Richie, Cee-Lo Green at Austin360 Amphitheater. Laugh if you want to (I did) but everyone who stuck around for Richie’s closing set on weekend one of the Austin City Limits Music Festival last year was “Dancing on the Ceiling” as Richie proved he was not just some cheesy ’80s dude. Instead he was the cheesy ’80s dude, ready to rock the crowd “All Night Long.” $49.50-$125 - D.S.S.

July 11: Rascal Flatts at Austin360 Amphitheater

July 12: Old Crow Medicine Show at Nutty Brown Cafe. The pioneering string band has a new ATO Records album due out July 1. Their mark of fame will forever be for reworking an old Dylan tune and introducing “Wagon Wheel” to the popular American songbook, but there’s more to Old Crow than that. — P.B.

July 12: Matthew Dear at Vulcan Gas Company

July 12: Kiss and Def Leppard at Austin360 Amphitheater

July 16: Kevin Gates at the Scoot Inn

July 18: The Neighbourhood El Tour Blanco with Travi$ Scott and Danny Brown at Stubb’s

July 18: Nicole Atkins at Belmont. Like many artists, Atkins has abandoned the major-label carousel for a crowd-funded new record on her own label. “Slow Phaser” came out in February and further extends the New York singer-songwriter’s repertoire of sophisticated, inventive modern pop music. Local opener Abram Shook of Shearwater is major added value here. $10-$12. — P.B.

July 18: 10,000 Maniacs at One World Theatre

July 19: Chevelle at Emo’s

July 20: Boston and Night Ranger at Cedar Park Center

July 20: The Antlers at Parish

July 22: John Legend at Cedar Park Center. Like Smokey Robinson or Otis Redding before him, at 35 years old John Legend has emerged as the premiere love balladeer of his generation, a fact that he acknowledged with the title of his 2013 release “Love in the Future.” The album spawned the poignant (and inescapable) anthem “All of Me,” which we can expect to hear at every wedding for the next 2,000 years. Radio saturation aside, he’s a formidable talent, an incredible live performer and this is a wonderful show to share with someone you love. — D.S.S.

July 24: !!! at Red 7

July 25: Iron & Wine Midwives Benefit at Paramount

July 25: Firefall at One World Theatre

July 26: The Hood Internet at Red 7

July 26: Hard Working Americans and Cody Canada at Stubb’s

July 29: Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell at Long Center. For many years now, Martin has been a musician first and a comedian second; he now has four Grammys for musical recordings, doubling the two he got for his late-’70s comedy albums. Things really took off a couple years ago when he brought Dallas native Edie Brickell aboard as a vocal supplement to North Carolina bluegrass traditionalists the Steep Canyon Rangers. $49. — P.B.

July 29: 311 at ACL Live

July 29: Peter Murphy at Belmont

July 30: Tori Amos at Long Center

July 30: Counting Crows at ACL Live

July 31: US the Duo at Emo’s


Aug. 1: Black Label Society at Emo’s

Aug. 1: Nick Waterhouse at Parish. A retro revivalist with a sound steeped in ’60s soul, singer-songwriter Waterhouse’s 2014 release “Holly” is stocked with swinging, satisfying blasts of R&B. $15. — D.S.S.

Aug. 2: Fall Out Boy at Austin360 Amphitheater. Reconstituted with 2013’s “Save Rock and Roll” after a nearly four-year hiatus, Fall Out Boy pretty much picked up right where they left off, topping the charts with danceable, mass-appeal alt-rock. Paramore and New Politics share the bill. $25-$63.50. — P.B.

Aug. 2: Ottmar Liebert at One World Theatre

Aug. 3: Michael Buble at Erwin Center

Aug. 3: Pure Prairie League at One World Theatre

Aug. 4: Dirty Heads and Pepper at Stubb’s

Aug. 8: Asking Alexandria + Chidos at ACL Live

Aug. 9: Dave Koz & Friends Summer Horns at One World Theatre

Aug. 11: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at Mohawk

Aug. 12: Maxwell at Long Center. Look, summers are made for lovin’, and the neo-soul kingpin who topped the charts in 2009 with his brilliant album “BLACKsummers’night” knows that as well as anyone. The tickets aren’t cheap, but listening to Maxwell’s silky falsetto and honeyed croon in the plush confines of the Long Center sounds like the definition of pure luxury. $49-$119 - D.S.S.

Aug. 13: Sarah Brightman at ACL Live

Aug. 14: Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden at Austin360 Amphitheater

Aug. 14: Lil Debbie at Empire

Aug. 14: John Mayall at One World Theatre. Perhaps a blues parallel to Willie Nelson, legendary guitarist Mayall is still touring at age 80 and stands as a towering influence to the major players who went through his Bluesbreakers band at one point, including Eric Clapton and members of Fleetwood Mac, Cream and the Rolling Stones. $31-$110. — P.B.

Aug. 15: RX Bandits and Dear Hunter at Emo’s

Aug. 15: Atlanta Rhythm Section at One World Theatre

Aug. 16: Thao & the Get Down Stay Down at Mohawk

Aug. 20: Panic at the Disco at ACL Live

Aug. 23: One Republic at Austin360 Amphitheater

Aug. 23-24: Nickel Creek at ACL Live. The first night sold out quickly, but an added show will allow more folks to catch this highly anticipated reunion of the groundbreaking string trio featuring virtuoso mandolinist Chris Thile and siblings Sara and Sean Watkins. The new Nonesuch disc “A Dotted Line” is their first together in nine years. Wimberley’s Sarah Jarosz opens. $39-$49. — P.B.

Aug. 23: Ricky Skaggs at One World Theatre

Aug. 27: Chicago and REO Speedwagon at Cedar Park Center

Aug. 28: Crosby, Stills & Nash at Long Center

Aug. 30: Passenger at Stubb’s


Sept. 4: NeedtoBreathe at Austin Music Hall

Sept. 5: Links & Lyrics with Vince Gill at ACL Live

Sept. 12: King Khan and Black Lips at Ghost Town. Back in 2009, Khan stashed his homies the Black Lips at his home in Germany after the Georgia punks were forced to abandon an Indian tour and flee the country following an unfortunate bout of onstage obscenity. During their stay, the Lips and the Khan formed the oddball psychedelic gospel group the Almighty Defenders. Who knows if they’ll explore those songs during this show, but with the added weirdness of a Texas ghost town just outside Austin for a setting, anything seems possible. — D.S.S.

Sept. 13: Kings of Leon at Austin360 Amphitheater

Sept. 14: Lily Allen at Stubb’s

Sept. 16: Coheed and Cambria Neverender at Stubb’s

Sept. 18: Owen Pallett at Mohawk

Sept. 19: Porter Robinson at Austin Music Hall

Sept. 20: Conor Oberst at Stubb’s. He’s still best known as the leader of Omaha, Neb., indie rock paragon Bright Eyes, but Oberst’s new Nonesuch Records disc “Upside Down Mountain” is in fact his sixth solo album. $30-$33. — P.B.

Sept. 21: Loudon Wainwright III at One World Theatre