ACL Fest 2014: Saturday'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 Saturday .
DEBORAH SENGUPTA STITH
The Chain Gang of 1974 (11:30 a.m. RetailMeNot). Cool anthemic indietronica to kick start day two.
Spanish Gold (12:30 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). Psychedelic but muscular, sentimental but paranoid, one of the most enthralling new rock bands of 2014.
Benjamin Booker (1 p.m. Austin Ventures). Gusty anarchic blues rock from New Orleans.
Trombone Shorty (2:30 p.m. Honda). Deep pocket funky grooves and blasts of NOLA brass that will absolutely inspire you to shake something.
Polica (3:30 p.m. Austin Ventures). One of the most interesting acts to emerge from the Minneapolis musical collective that also includes Gayngs, Marijuana Death Squads and Bon Iver.
My Brightest Diamond (4:30 p.m. Sculpture). Classically trained vocalist Shara Worden creates an occasionally operatic, often spooky, controlled carnival of sound.
Iggy Azalea (5:30 p.m. RetailMeNot). Don’t believe the hype: She’s not the best female rapper in the world, but the “Fancy” phenom is probably worth investigating live.
Beats Antique (6:30 p.m. Sculpture). A fast grooving alternative to the snoozy folksters and so-called sultry pop playing elsewhere.
Major Lazer (7:30 p.m. RetailMeNot). Hip hop super-producer Diplo leads the hottest dancehall throwdown north of the Carribean.
Eminem (8:30 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). His last album was a dud and his mama issues are tiresome, but if you’re not convinced Em’s one of the top wordsmiths of his generation, google the video of him teaching CNN’s Anderson Cooper how to rhyme the word orange (“I put my orange, four-inch, door hinge in storage”).
Rosebuds (11:30 a.m. Miller Lite). Classic aughts indie-pop of the North Carolina Triangle variety.
Spanish Gold (12:30 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). Former Hacienda frontman Dante Schwebel is the central figure here, but Austin guitarist Adrian Quesada is a big part of what makes it work.
Zoe (1:30 p.m. Miller Lite). Why not follow Spanish Gold with a little Mexican platinum? These atmospheric rockers have been huge in their home country for nearly two decades.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (2:30 p.m. Honda). Keep the regional-flavor theme going with a blast of horn-driven Louisiana jazz/funk/soul stew.
Shop the lot (2:30 p.m., merch booth). Let the hipsters compare dictionaries over the spellings of Kodaline, Polica and Tune-yards, and go check out what some favorite fest acts are selling.
The Head and the Heart (4:30 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). “Shake” is one of the past year’s best singles, showcasing both the pop songcraft and vocal blends that make this Seattle indie-folk outfit special.
Lucius (5:30 p.m. Austin Ventures). It’s a joy to witness the rise of a new band that effortlessly entertains while carving out an inventive and original identity.
Avett Brothers (6:30 p.m. Honda). A little calmer than in their younger days, yes, but all the more tuneful for it.
Juanes (7:30 p.m. Austin Ventures). The Colombian pop star was a big hit when he taped “ACL,” and should draw multicultural throngs to his Fest show as well.
Zoé (1:30 p.m. Miller Lite). Mexican alternative rock giants infuse cosmic wonder and mysticism into their brand of experimental music.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (2:30 p.m. Honda). Some New Orleans-influenced funk will soothe your festival-weary soul on day two and give you a shot of musical adrenaline.
Beats Antique (6:30 p.m. Sculpture). World music plus electronica come together for a unique marriage of sounds that’ll awaken your musical senses.
Juanes (7:30 p.m. Austin Ventures). Don’t miss the chance to see why Latin America goes crazy for this Colombian superstar who’s often described as one of the most influential artists of his generation. His rock-pop style has earned him nearly 20 Latin Grammy awards.
Eminem (8:30 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). End the night with the verbal gymnastics of a living legend.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (2:30 p.m. Honda). Big Easy brass band realness for the people. You’ll see a trombone do things you didn’t know possible.
Tune-Yards (3:30 p.m. RetailMeNot). The sound of a marching band in a food processor, in the right ways.
My Brightest Diamond (4:30 p.m. Sculpture). Shara Worden can wrench the emotional gamut from a single lyric.
Iggy Azalea (5:30 p.m. RetailMeNot). My actual pick, taste-wise, is Lucius at Austin Ventures, but the cultural anthropologist in me says to not pass this one up.
The Avett Brothers (6:30 p.m. Honda). Their past couple albums have been mediocre, but the bluegrass punks still bring the house down live.
Major Lazer (7:30 p.m. RetailMeNot). Diplo’s dancehall spasm-inducer “Pon de Floor” is sampled in Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls).” It’ll be like Queen Bey is right there!
Eminem (8:30 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). Make no mistake, you’re getting dad-era Mr. Mathers and not “My Name Is”-era Slim Shady. But the rap god has earned the right to be a must-see.
The Chain Gang of 1974 (11:30 a.m. RetailMeNot). This is youthful, flirting-with-transcendence rock for angsty teenagers. With bands on the brink of popularity I’m always interested to see how members handle brunch hour bystanders.
Empires (12:30 p.m. Honda). The Chicago four-piece is here on the shoulders of September’s major label debut—expensive, driven garage rock.
Zoe (1:30 p.m. Miller Lite). Mac DeMarco is one of my guys but I’ve seen four DeMarco sets across Fun Fun Fun Fest and SXSW over the past year; rolling the dice on what this huge-in-its-homeland Mexico City alt-rock band packs.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (2:30 p.m. Honda). The name is transparent: You really are getting a medium-to-short New Orleans gentleman oscillating between church-raised soul vocals and technical, present trombone solos. Trust me, I was first-chair trombone for a few days back in my honor band early years.
Polica (3:30 p.m. Austin Ventures). Dark pop from Minneapolis that plods along with arresting atmospherics and whip-cracking, horse and carriage pace: The haunting “Lay Your Cards Out” will have you reaching for the Proton Pack.
Interpol (4:30 p.m. Honda). Interpol’s self-produced “El Pintor” finds the New York City cool kids sounding the best they have in a decade — delivering steady, sticky songs with pizza man acumen.
Iggy Azalea (5:30 p.m. RetailMeNot). Unfortunately, Azalea’s cultural appropriation has jettisoned her pop prospects to chart-topping slots unavailable to Trina and Mia-X. It’d be a principled write off if “Fancy” wasn’t such a triumph.
Lana Del Rey (6:30 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). Expertly packaged pop, surviving a pressure cooker media, and pulling straight wins since that hot “Gatsby” track, Del Rey is easy to support.
Juanes (7:30 p.m. Austin Ventures). Juanes is the biggest name in the history of the Austin Ventures stage — the Colombian idol has sold 15 million records and rocked peace concerts in Cuba.
Eminem (8:30 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). Go ahead and lose yourself — Marshall Mathers will lean on his first few LPs and you’ll be surprised how much of “Kill You” you can rap back to him.
ERIN J. WALTER
The Rosebuds (11:30 a.m. Miller Lite). The gorgeous vocals and swirling, graceful indie pop should be a stirring way to start day two.
Benjamin Booker (1 p.m. Austin Ventures). Out of New Orleans supporting his debut album, Booker’s live videos send chills and conjure comparisons to everyone from Otis Redding to Gary Clarke Jr. to Local H. But “Violent Shiver” and “Have You Seen My Son?” demand listeners carve out a special place for Booker that is all his own. Not to be missed.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (2:30 p.m. Honda). “There’s no better place than here,” sings Trombone Shorty. “There’s no better time than now.” Amen to that. Bring on more of the big-band, brass-heavy, head-bopping, multiracial New Orleans musical experience.
Tune-Yards (3:30 p.m. RetailMeNot). Explosive, unpredictable, pulsating, celebratory, original indie pop led by Merrill Garbus of Oakland, California.
My Brightest Diamond (4:30 p.m. Sculpture). One does not simply hear Shara Worden’s voice so much as become invaded, infused, transformed and haunted by it. Look up “To Pluto’s Moon” for a preview.
Lucius (5:30 p.m. Austin Ventures). A former bandmate of mine swears Lucius is one of the best live indie rock bands he’s ever seen, so I’ll be there. (But I’ll also be the one sprinting to dance to Icona Pop’s “I Love It” the minute its first notes waft over from the Miller Lite stage.)
Lana Del Rey (6:30 p.m. Samsung Galaxy). So-called Hollywood Sadcore is not even close to my favorite genres, but midway through the fest is the perfect time to let Del Rey’s dreamy voice wash over the park like an evening rain.
Eminem (8:30 p.m. Samsung). The Grammy-winning Detroit rapper is celebrating the 15-year anniversary of his breakthrough, “The Slim Shady LP.” Celebrate with him, or head home early to rest up for day three.