Because 130 Bands Weren't Enough
Editors Note: This story originally published July 27th, we thought it made sense to bring it back as you plan your ACL experience.
Most tickets to the 10th anniversary edition of the Austin City Limits Music Festival have been sold out since May. As of today, only single day tickets for Sunday, September 18th remain. Whether you slept on tickets and are full of remorse or you simply prefer the small clubs to the masses of humanity, this is your week to spend some ACL-related cash.
On Thursday, tickets to over 20 ACL-related C3 aftershows go on sale, including both some of the biggest names and the most interesting up-and-comers. An exhaustive list of gigs is available at the ACL official site.
To help prioritize your budget and your time, we’ve combed the shows, venues, and schedule to recommend our top five picks for ACL musical overload.
Pretty Lights, Nas, and Run DMT at Austin Music Hall – Fans of dance music have a lot to be excited about during ACL week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Deadmau5 plays two shows at AMH that are sure to be bursting at the seams, and then on Thursday, Pretty Lights take the stage in advance of their coveted Friday evening festival slot. The power and popularity of dance music is more apparent than ever this year - who’d have thought you’d see Pitbull, David Guetta, and Martin Solveig in the Billboard Top 50? And so we’ll see a massive throng dancing to mash-ups of everything from Pink Floyd to John Denver, along with a cameo set from Nas, who will hit the main stage at Zilker with Damien Marley the next day. Support comes from Austin electronic artists Run DMT.
Twin Shadow, Cut Copy (DJ Set), Theophilus London, + Diamond Rings at Emo’s (both stages) – To put it simply, if you are an ‘80’s revivalist, this is your night to shine. Headliner Twin Shadow was ubiquitous at SXSW 2011, charming audiences head to toe with his mix of 1979 Prince looks and 1986 Morrissey croon. The music is more than homage, though – it’s sad, pretty, and makes us long for Style Council LP’s and the John Hughes soundtracks that introduced millions to The Psychedelic Furs and Echo and the Bunnymen. The fact that you’ll also get a dance party hour from the chipper and brilliant Australian Cut Copy already makes this show a no-brainer, but the support acts are also both simply ace. Theophilus London will bring his unusual, soulful and weird hip-hop to the party, which has a strong TV on the Radio presence (Dave Sitek is on the LP), while Diamond Rings will kick the night off with glammy synth-pop that was strong enough to land him the opening slot on Robyn’s recent US tour.
Smith Westerns, Cults at The Parish – We’re glad that Cults are getting a nighttime ACL gig, because they drew the absolute shortest straw of the festival – playing their festival set at 11:45am Friday while 90% of that day’s crowd will still be finishing breakfast and applying sunscreen. This is quite a shame, because the band’s self-titled debut is one of our favorites of 2011. The Phil Spector influences abound, but modern elements do sometimes make an entrance (spoken word samples and swearing, for example.) We’re less sold on Smith Westerns, but seem to be in the minority on that count – like Cults, they’ve nabbed a coveted Pitchfork “best new music” this year, and compared them to Teenage Fanclub, which seems fair. This double bill probably represents the best shot at “I saw them when” status for 2011.
Death From Above 1979, The Vaccines at Emo’s – Fans of Toronto dance-metal group Death From Above 1979 were pretty excited to hear that the group were doing a surprise gig at SXSW – until they found out that it was at the miniscule Beauty Bar, whereupon they proceeded to tear down the security gate and get into a mace and Taser fight with policemen on horseback. Really. Thankfully, this ticketed Emo’s show should go a lot more smoothly, and give DFA 1979 fans without 3-day passes a chance to catch one of indie rock’s big 2011 reunions. British sensations The Vaccines open, which doesn’t exactly fit – but we liked their tunes at SX, which filtered classic Brit influences like The Jam and The Buzzcocks through a slightly more modern and pop-focused lens. It should all be great for a drink and a pogo.
Iron and Wine, Yim Yames (Jim James of My Morning Jacket) at Stubb’s – Many have opined that My Morning Jacket are facing an uphill battle co-headlining against Stevie Wonder on Saturday evening. It’s a strong bet that lots of those who opt for Wonder wouldn’t mind hopping over to Stubb’s on Sunday to catch a set from MMJ frontman Jim James, who occasionally breaks out the Yim Yames moniker for solo shows. Expect some George Harrison tribute love from James (he released a Harrison EP in 2009), along with some gems from the My Morning Jacket catalog. All of that will serve as a lead-in to Austin (well, Dripping Springs) transplant Sam Beam, who will close out the weekend with songs from the lushest and poppiest Iron and Wine LP to date, 2011’s Kiss Each other Clean. It should prove a fine ending to a great weekend – if you are willing to skip the Arcade Fire at the park.
C3’s 20+ aftershows go on sale Thursday at 10:00am to members of the ACL and C3 e-lists. For more information, head here.