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Peering into the crystal ball

Deborah Sengupta Stith
Childish Gambino, who performed at ACL Fest in 2014 and had to cancel last year due to an injury, seems likely to headline this year. [JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

UPDATE: 4.30.19: The 2019 Austin City Limits Festival lineup has arrived with Guns n' Roses, Childish Gambino, Mumford and Sons and Cardi B at the top of the bill. Read Team 360's full analysis of this year's roster here.


UPDATE: 4.26.19:Could Bruce Springsteen play Austin City Limits Music Festival???


UPDATE 4.23.19: The ACL Festival lineup will be out and tickets go on sale Tuesday, April 30 at noon.

A few things worth noting have happened since we last posted. Body positive soul queen, Lizzo, dropped her new album "Cuz I Love You" and announced a 2019 tour itinerary with two ACL Fest-shaped holes in it (squee!). The Flaming Lips also announced a summer tour that seems to be conspicuously missing a second leg. (UPDATE: The Lips are on the Float Fest lineup) It ends in August with no Western U.S. dates. Finally, Flogging Molly and Social Distortion announced a joint headline tour that kicks off in Dallas in August and runs through late September with no Austin date. We wouldn't be at all surprised to see both acts on the ACL bill.


Last year, the Austin City Limits Music Festival lineup dropped on May 1. Festival organizers tell us they are operating on a similar timeline this year, although a firm release date has not been set.

We've kept tabs of many possible ACL Fest acts since South by Southwest ended in March. Several major festivals announced lineups (like Lollapalooza did in March), countless artists released fall tour schedules and some shindig in Indio, California, just happened — Coachella. Let's peer into the future and speculate who might play Zilker Park this fall, based on that research.

Paul Simon allegedly retired last year, but he popped up in the headline spot for Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco in August. Meanwhile, Simon’s wife, native Texan Edie Brickell, just played a solid set at SXSW in March with her band, the New Bohemians. The group released a new album called “Rocket” last year and have a handful of festival dates in August and September. Could both acts show up on the ACL 2019 bill? Seems like a long shot, but it’s possible.

Lollapalooa bill-topper Childish Gambino is a good bet. His “This Is America” tour is stunning audiences across the country. The artist also known as Donald Glover said he planned to retire his R&B/rap alter ego, but an injury sidelined his tour right before he was set to headline ACL Fest last year. Now that he’s headlining Lollapalooza, a make-up date at ACL seems like a shoo-in.

Speaking of make-up performances, remember the Cardi B set at Jmblya that never happened? Pregnancy issues forced her to cancel her set at the hip-hop and EDM turn-up last May, and with her excellent 2018 album “Invasion of Privacy” burning up the charts all summer, she was likely too big to book again. Cardi made an attendance record-shattering appearance at the Houston rodeo in March. A May stop in El Paso is the only other Texas date on a tour schedule that seems to be missing a second leg. We are hopeful that she’ll make money moves in October in Zilker Park.

It’s been four years since Lollapalooza headliners Tame Impala played a sundown set on one of the big stages at ACL Fest. They also played the fest in 2013. On the one hand, that’s a lot of Tame Impala at one festival. On the other hand, the Aussie band's psych-rock sound resonates with a city that helped pioneer the genre. We’ll give it a 60-percent probability.

Another Lollapalooza headliner, Colombian reggaeton singer J Balvin, also seems like a likely bet for ACL 2019.

Kacey Musgraves leads the second tier of Lollapalooza artists in August, just played Coachella to viral success and last played ACL Fest in 2016. (Lollapalooza is co-produced by Austin-based C3 Presents, by the way.) She also sold out two Stubb’s shows in March. Her “Oh, What a World” tour ends in New Orleans on Sept. 28, which is perfect positioning for an ACL Fest pop-in.

Miley Cyrus is not playing Lollapalooza, but we did find out she was booked into a headline slot on the Woodstock 50th anniversary bill in mid-August. Cyrus has a new album in the works with new music due out this summer, and as ACL Fest shares Cyrus’ rootsy background, it seems like a perfect pairing.

Speaking of the new generation of independent country women: Turns out Miranda Lambert’s Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars tour has no Texas dates and two open Sundays during ACL Fest. Her itinerary puts her in Louisiana during weekend one of the festival and South Dakota during weekend two, so we might not get her both weekends, but the first one seems very possible.

Denver folk-rock outfit the Lumineers have a new album due out later this month. They play Outside Lands and Woodstock in August and See.Hear.Now in New Jersey in September, but then they have a very convenient break for a month in October. We wouldn’t be at all surprised if they spend part of it in Zilker Park.

Similarly, the Raconteurs have a new album out in June. There are no Texas dates on their tour yet, but they’ve got two open Fridays in October on a tour gap between gigs in Denver and Oklahoma City.

Anderson.Paak's new album, “Ventura,” came out earlier this month, and his tour routes through Houston and Dallas in June with no Austin date. The R&B/rap phenom is playing a few European festivals in August, but he doesn’t have any fall dates listed yet.

Pop breakout Billie Eilish handily sold out an Emo’s show last fall and made a big splash at SXSW this year. She’s on tour supporting her new album, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” She’ll be in Europe for most of the late summer but lands back in the U.S. for IHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas in late September, putting her a short hop from Austin around ACL time.

Likewise, mystical British crooner James Blake put out his latest album, “Assume Form,” in January. He toured both coasts in February and March before returning to the U.K. He’s touring Europe through the summer, but lands stateside to presumably pick up the second leg of his North American tour at the end of August.

Team Austin360’s favorite rhyme-slinging, jubilant vibe-bringing rapper and singer, Lizzo, celebrated the release of latest album “Cuz I Love You” on Friday. Right now, her tour dates just run through July, but according to a sharp-eared Redditor, Lizzo announced on an Instagram stream that she plans to be in Dallas this fall, which bodes well for a return to Austin.

We also noticed Colombian American artist Kali Uchis is bringing her summery pop jams to Dallas and Houston in May, but skipping Austin. Her tour ends in July, but we suspect a second leg, which hopefully includes an ACL date still to be announced.

R&B artists H.E.R. and 6lack have wide open fall schedules right now, as does King Princess, who just made a big splash at SXSW.

Indie-pop standout Mitski has June dates in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, but no Austin dates. Her tour ends in August, making her a very likely ACL candidate.

Some 2000s favorites: Norah Jones is on the road supporting a new album through the summer. Her tour currently ends in August with no Texas dates. Art rock weirdos the Flaming Lips have a new album out in July. They haven’t announced any tour dates yet, but they are an ACL fave who last played the festival in 2010. Missy Elliott also has a new album coming out. She hasn't announced any tour dates yet, but we are ready to "Work It" in Zilker Park. Jack Black’s comedy-rock project, Tenacious D, is on tour with a Colombian date on Oct. 1 last on the list, and Death Cab for Cutie has a tour that hits San Antonio and Houston, but not Austin, and ends in September. Both seem like real possibilities.

It’s worth noting that British trip-hop act Massive Attack has a tour that ends in late September without coming anywhere near Texas.

Aside from Paul Simon, we haven’t really touched on legacy acts. ACL organizers tend to tuck a few classic artists into the roster each year alongside the up-and-comers. Reba McEntire has a new album and a tour with no October dates, and Hall and Oates are on a tour of mostly casinos and fairgrounds that ends in Oklahoma on Sept. 28. Both are possible ACL artists, but neither seem particularly likely. Chaka Khan has a new album out and a tour that hits Houston and Dallas, but not Austin, which has us praying for a funky get-down in Zilker Park.

Rock icon Phil Collins is playing Houston and Dallas in September as part of his “Not Dead Yet” tour. An ACL appearance would be a tight squeeze for the 68-year-old rocker — he has gigs on both Fridays and Sundays of the festival — but he does have two free Saturdays during the fest. It seems unlikely that he would fly in on weekend one, between dates in Buffalo and Pittsburgh (the weekend two date falls between gigs in Denver and Omaha, which seems slightly more likely), but if ACL producer C3 presents could persuade him to do it, he’d be an epic legacy act for the 2019 fest.

There are a few prominent locals who might be on the bill. Hometown hero Gary Clark Jr., who played the festival’s inaugural year in 2002 with blues elder W.C. Clark, most recently played in 2015. His new album, "This Land," has drawn national attention, and his tour ends on Sept. 29. Seems likely we’ll see him at ACL. Black Pumas, the rock 'n' soul project from Adrian Quesada and Eric Burton, recently signed to ATO Records and are scheduled to release their debut album in June. They also just played Old Settler's Festival. Their tour ends in late September which should put them home in time for ACL. Electro-pop duo Missio also have a new album out and a tour that ends with a swing through eastern Europe in July. Finally, we would be delighted (but not particularly surprised) to see Heart Bones, the new collaboration between Har Mar Superstar and Sabrina Ellis of Sweet Spirit and a Giant Dog, on the bill for this year’s fest.

Back to the Lollapalooza lineup, let’s rule some folks out: Ariana Grande will be touring in Scandinavia during the festival. Twenty One Pilots will play the Erwin Center in June. The Strokes last headlined in 2015, and the Chainsmokers and Flume last played in 2016. Of all those artists, the Strokes seem least likely to make an appearance, because the festival seems reluctant to repeat headliners so quickly.

Stay tuned to for more wild speculation and educated guesses leading up to the official ACL Fest lineup announcement.