• Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Photo by Bill Sallans
  • Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Photo by Jessica Pages

We've closed the door on another successful Austin City Limits Music Festival. As you recover from your post-festival haze, peruse our comprehensive guide to ACL Fest 2012. Relive your favorite festival moments (or check out a few of the highlights you missed!) with our breakdown of the photos, music and scene that made ACL Fest another epic Austin experience.

Photos & Fashion
Up-close shots of the artists that rocked the weekend, and the fashion that rocked the park

CultureMap's look at some of the festival's best live performances

Artist Discoveries, Previews and Expert Picks
An in-depth look at the not-to-be-missed acts of the festival

2012 Festival Guide
Your guide to making the most of ACL — food, fashion and aftershows included

  • Florence + The Machine
    Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Neil Young and Crazy Horse
    Photo by Jessica Pages
  • The Civil Wars
    Photo by Bill Sallans
  • The Lumineers
    Photo by Jessica Pages

ACL in Review: A look at the most memorable moments from the Fest

There was sun, there was rain and there were some damn fine unforgettable performances. As Austin City Limits Music Festival closes the gates on its 11th annual weekend of music, CultureMap's staff and contributors look back at the performances — headliners and up-and-comers — that shaped our 2012 ACL Fest experience.

Florence + The Machine

Hands down, the best show for me was Florence + The Machine. Florence looked like the spookiest Gaelic sea witch posing against the harp on stage and then jumping around the stage in her old-timey dress. Her singing voice sounds exactly the same live as it does on the radio, which is always astounding and completely satisfying. In between songs, she'd start giggling and flirting with the audience, and then, boom, right back into wailing like a banshee. Awesome.

- Michael Graupmann, Senior Editor

Iggy and The Stooges

I've been saying it since the lineup was leaked in June: The chance to see Iggy would be the highlight of my festival experience. Sunday's early evening performance had all the makings of the rowdy, raunchy live show I expected: a shirtless legend, sweat-drenched crowd, unmatched stage antics. There was more energy and debauchery seeping out of Iggy than any other aged rocker I've seen in a decade. (Sorry, Neil.)

"I Wanna Be Your Dog," "Funhouse" and "Raw Power" were grungy and guttural in all the right ways — and I can't argue with a show that got thousands of Texans on their feet to "Dance with The Stooges." Iggy left ACL Fest — and Austin — as he should: with a peace sign, a middle finger, and a raw, sweaty taste of the brashness that created a subculture.

- Arden Ward, Managing Editor

Neil Young and Crazy Horse

The highlight of ACL for me was the sheer not-giving-a-fuck-itude of the set from Crazy Horse and Neil Young. The band definitely gets top billing there, because the set was all about the band — not the songs, not the singer, but the joy those old dudes take in making really loud noise together. The band opened with a 17-minute version of "Love And Only Love," a deep-cut from their 1990 album Ragged Glory, and Neil Young didn't even open his mouth to sing the first line for six minutes.

He did not play "Heart Of Gold." He did not play "Old Man." He did not play "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," or "Like A Hurricane," or "Mr. Soul," or "Rockin' In The Free World," or "Harvest Moon," or "Long May You Run." In the end, he played 12 songs in a full two-hour set. Mostly this was a set by one of rock's most inscrutable and idiosyncratic legends intended to please only himself and his band. Neil Young is just himself, as he's always been, and I hope he never changes.

- Dan Solomon, Contributor

The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars headlining a major stage with no supplemental musicians was a sight to see. It was interesting to watch how the crowd actually quieted down and paid attention because it was so stark. The set inclusion of their covers of "Billie Jean," and especially Portishead's wonderful "Sour Times," was a highlight. On a weekend when you hear so much that is new, it was a treat to hear a favorite re-interpreted.

- Tom Thornton, Contributor

The Lumineers

My favorite moment of ACL is a tie between Florence + The Machine and The Lumineers. Florence gave an amazing performance (very theatrical) and getting to hear her voice in person was amazing — it really is that good. The Lumineers were very soulfull, they played awesome and you could really tell how much fun they were having and how excited they were to be playing ACL.

- Jessica Pages, Photo Editor

Two Door Cinema Club

Two Door Cinema Club performed an incredible show with a perfect mix of fan favorites and new songs. I loved how much they loved on Austin and their fans throughout the show. It was clear how grateful they were to be playing the Bud Light Stage to a sea of fans — a huge step up from the Austin Ventures Stage where they played in 2010. It's a true testimony to how far they've come in just two years.

- Veronica Castelo, Director of Marketing

ACL in Review: Steve Earle brings Guitar Town roots back to Austin

ACL Fest 2012

Steve Earle took to the Austin Ventures stage Saturday evening — all denim, beard and hat — to challenge the reverb-heavy sounds of Bassnectar on the stage next door. It felt familiar, kind of like an ACL 2011 scheduling misstep that had an acoustic Gillian Welch playing at the same time as (and on the stage nearest) Skrillex.

But Steve Earle ain’t scared of some bass. And with the help of his full band and rebel ways, Earle played a country/bluegrass-laden set against the background of previously-pouring skies that let up just in time to welcome this songwriting legend back to the Texas stage.

There were nods to Earle’s early roots. “Guitar Town” and “Copperhead Road” were played back-to-back for a crowd that fell into the nostalgia of the first and the rebel rousing of the latter.

As an overcast afternoon turned to grey Texas dusk, Earle spent an hour trading mandolin for banjo for acoustic guitar, running through a snapshot of his career that balanced a modern catalog with the signature sounds that made him a songwriting force in Tennessee, Texas and beyond.

He opened with “Waitin’ on the Sky” (from 2011’s I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive): a sentiment that was surely shared among Saturday's crowd of muddy, drenched festival goers.

After a short hiccup between songs one and two — “This shit’s tore up,” Earle matter-of-factly told the crowd — he launched into “Little Emperor,” a tune that the troubador dedicated to “W and his fuckin’ horse.”

With that, the Van Zandt/Clark protege planted leftist political roots that would remain a subtle theme of his ACL show, one that was met with nothing but cheers from a crowd that lightly grasped onto each political undertone.

From “Little Emperor,” Earle and his band rolled into 1995's “Train A Comin'" issuing in the rowdiness that Steve Earle is known for, with enough speed and depth to drown the droning bass from next door’s electronic show. Of course, there were the obligatory nods to Earle’s early roots. “Guitar Town” and “Copperhead Road” were played back-to-back for a crowd that fell into the nostalgia of the first and the rebel rousing of the latter.

As the end of the set grew nigh and bodies started traversing the park to reach Neil Young, Earle took a few moments to "set the record straight" on “three lies you’ll be told this election cycle.”

For Earle, it all boils down to one simple truth: trade unions, teachers and immigration don't "have anything to do with the trouble in this country." To drive it home, Earle segued into 2007’s “City of Immigrants,” from Washington Square Serenade.

It was a fitting tribute to Steve Earle’s troubadour past, and to an ACL spotlight that walked the line of subtle politics without ever losing sight of the heart of the song or his rebel roots.

  • The Roots
    Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Photo by Jessica Pages

ACL in Review: After two decades The Roots prove explosive hip hop legacy

ACL Fest 2012

Any list of the tightest bands in the world would be incomplete if it didn't include The Roots.

The endlessly versatile Philadelphia-based hip hop crew are equally at home going on extended jazz runs — as was heard to notable effect during "Mellow My Man" early on in the ACL set on Saturday evening — or in the day job serving as the house band for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, or backing seemingly everybody from Jay-Z to John Legend when they want some live-band cred for a record, or recording a nigh-endless string of essential albums of their own.

In any case, there weren't a lot of tubas on stage at ACL, but it's guaranteed that none were funkier than the one featured in The Roots' set. Which is the point: It takes a band whose tightness is unquestioned, and whose versatility can be taken for granted, to pull off what The Roots accomplished onstage on Saturday.

On record, The Roots have settled into a role as hip hop's conscience. They're elder statesmen releasing records like last year'sUndun, a concept album about a murdered teen from the Philly projects, and which was the latest in a string of socially-aware albums.
Live, though, it's a different story. This is a high-energy party band, and it makes them an explosive festival act. Drummer ?uestlove (who played Saturday with his iconic afro braided down into cornrows) barely so much as lowered his sticks; a horny song like the 2003 single "Break You Off" flows effortlessly into 1997's hymn of romantic devotion, "You Got Me," and that song's minor-key guitar line still somehow seems designed to get heads nodding and hands in the air.
It takes that sort of greatness to pull off some of the left-field moves the band went for. An extended tuba solo during a hip hop show is one thing; the band launching into a cover of Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" is another, but what the hell? We're partying out here!
It's the rare hip hop show these days where the emcee doesn't need to so much as address the audience to get them to put their hands in the air and wave 'em like they don't care 45 minutes into the set.
But that's what The Roots have been able to deliver for almost two decades now, and they don't show any signs of slowing down.

  • Austin City Limits Festival/Facebook

Top 10 things to do to have a kid-friendly ACL Fest experience

ACL Fest 2012

AustinKidsDance.com recommends grown-up live music in kid-friendly venues year-round, but it doesn't especially recommend the Austin City Limits Music Festival as a kid-friendly festival.

I might have been biased when I wrote that, due to my hazy memories of near heat stroke when the festival was in 100 degree weather for several years in a row, when I would drink gallons of water and never need to pee because by body was sweating so much. But, I have fully recovered now and the festival has since moved to October, so it is time to reconsider.

I'm going to ACL with my five-year-old daughter. Kids 10 and under are free with a paying adult. Check out the ACL website for details.

Here is our plan. Maybe these ideas will help, if you are going with your kids too.

1. Bring One Kid Per Adult

I'm the only adult, so I'm bringing only one kid. For me, a one-kid-per-adult ratio is more fun and less work. Also, I'm bringing the 5-year-old, not the toddler. Babies are immobile and manageable and five-year-olds have a reasonable attention span and the ability to reason. I'm not ready to try ACL with a toddler.

2. Pack Light

I'm bringing a backpack with sunscreen, two unopened water bottles (unopened is a festival rule), wipes, camera, wallet (you need cash for many vendors) and a cell phone. I'm also bringing a blanket instead of chairs or a stroller (wagons are not allowed), so we'll be more mobile.

3. Arrive Early

My kids don't let me sleep late anyway, so we'll head out early and beat the crowds for parking and shuttle buses

4. Tag Your Kid

We'll do this first, so if we get separated later, festival staff can help us get reconnected

5. Ditch the Schedule

If you were a big music fan when you were young and childless, this might be difficult. But if I try to get my daughter to follow a specific schedule of bands she might not like, it won't go very well. That sounds like all work, when is the fun going to start? Here it is...

6. Check out Austin Kiddie Limits

This is a space built with kids in mind. There is the music stage with kids' bands, but there is so much more: a sandy beach, video karaoke, drum workshops, action painting, a theater project, hair coloring and temporary tattoos.

7. Check out Grown-up Music

This is our non-schedule approach — we are going to walk around and stay when something sounds good. It isn't completely random, we'll spend more time walking around the stages that are more kid-friendly. The Zilker Stage has gospel music, seating and shade and the BMI stage is small enough that you can see the bands up close without fighting crowds. We'll avoid the largest stages — AMD and Bud Light — because people tend to stand and kids can't see, unless you are far away from the stage.

8. Eat Something Fun

ACL does a great job of having local, interesting, tasty food vendors. They are more adult-friendly (crispy artichokes, spinach and mushroom pie, jalapeno brisket tacos) than kid-friendly sometimes, but they have pizza, hamburgers and lemonade, too. I'm going to see if my daughter will try something new, she probably will, if she can have Amy's Ice Cream for dessert.

9. Dance

My daughter dances in circles with her arms wide open, mixing in jumping, gymnastics and ballet moves. She's really fun to watch. I'll dance with her too, in that way that is crazy fun but I hope doesn't show up on YouTube.

10. Leave Early

Leaving early will not be easy. I will have gotten the ticket and arrived at the venue, then left on purpose, before seeing Jack White. But my daughter doesn't have the stamina for an all-day music festival and the huge crowds in the dark would be hard to navigate. That's how it is with families some times. You can have it all, but not all at the same time, and leaving early is better than not going at all.

The good news is that we will get to avoid the super long lines for shuttle buses at the end of the day and we'll get some much-needed sleep.


Originally posted at GrowingUpAustin.com, a blog and set of websites that encourages Austin family experiences with hiking, live music and art.


ACL in Review: Avicii closes Day 1 with EDM for the masses

ACL Fest 2012

Avicii's ascent to stardom is perhaps the biggest music success story of 2012. While the 23-year-old from Sweden had already made his mark in DJ culture (placing 6th in the 2011 DJ Magazine Top 100 poll), his rise from a low-key Monday night gig in January at Austin Music Hall to playing to tens of thousands at Zilker Park on Friday night has been truly remarkable.

The young DJ has found buzz everywhere he travels this year: Madonna appeared during his set at Miami's Ultra Festival, Forbes recently named him one of the world's top earning DJ's and he was chosen as the face of Ralph Lauren's new casual line Denim and Supply.

As EDM continues to dominate pop airwaves and gain favor among young music fans, it wasn't that surprising that C3 went ahead and booked a DJ act as a headliner. To be fair, they've been working EDM in for a couple of years, and the huge crowds at last year's Skrillex and Pretty Lights sets likely gave them the mental green-light to continue the trend.

Avicii's piano lines were heard often, but this live show was built for crowd-pleasing and was inherently less subtle than his records. It was build, build, drop — and the crowd seemed fine with that.

For his set, Avicii DJed in a booth atop a giant porcelain face that displayed 3D images across its surfaces that were synced to his music cues. Starting from a sample of The Who's "Baba O'Riley," Avicii moved through a sleek and well-honed 75-minute set.

The "hits" were included on a regular schedule: "Fade Into Darkness" came first, "Silhouettes" about 20 minutes later, "My Feelings For You" (a bit of it, anyhow) soon after, and the massive "Le7els" not long before the close.

Lasers, screens and projections actually de-emphasized the DJ — the spotlight rarely shone on him — but he seemed content to direct the crowd with his breaks, a frequently raised arm, and knowing nods to the crowd. His signature soul samples turned up — not just the ubiquitous Etta James hook from "Le7els," but "Tracks Of My Tears" as well. He also nodded to other EDM acts, as snippets of Swedish House Mafia's "Antidote" were worked into the often bombastic show.

While Avicii's pretty piano lines were heard often, this live show was built for crowd-pleasing and was inherently less subtle than his records. It was build, build, drop — and the crowd seemed fine with that.

The park on Friday night still felt like a venue of rock fans: the crowd broke about 70/30 (or more) toward The Black Keys show, and even the Avicii audience up front didn't dance much; the go-to move seemed to be a fist pump or a polite pogo.

But young ticket buyers have spoken and EDM looks to be a fixture of ACL for years to come.

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Texas chefs and restaurants advance as James Beard Award finalists — and none are in Austin

James Beard Finalists 2023

The James Beard Foundation has selected its finalists for their annual Restaurant and Chef Awards, and none are in Austin. This is a bit of a surprise since there were 6 different Austin nominees, and considering how well-represented Austin has been in previous years. In 2022, Austin's Edgar Rico (Nixta Taqueria) won Emerging Chef and Iliana de la Vega (El Naranjo) was named the first ever Best Chef: Texas.

Nonetheless, Texas as a whole is well-represented among 2023 finalists and one Austin establishment will be recognized as an American classic. Texan restaurants and chefs in the running for national awards include:

  • Outstanding Bar: Las Ramblas, Brownsville
  • Outstanding Bakery: Kuluntu Bakery, Dallas
  • Outstanding Bakery: La Casita Bakeshop, Dallas
  • Outstanding Restaurant: Lucia, Dallas
  • Best New Restaurant: Restaurant Beatrice, Dallas
  • Best New Restaurant: Don Artemio Mexican Heritage, Fort Worth
  • Best New Restaurant: Tatemó, Houston
  • Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program: Nancy’s Hustle, Houston

    Texas is considered its own region and one person will earn Best Chef: Texas; this year's finalists include:

    • John Russ, Clementine, San Antonio
    • Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland, Burnt Bean Co., Seguin
    • Reyna Duong, Sandwich Hag, Dallas
    • Benchawan Jabthong Painter, Street to Kitchen, Houston
    • Emiliano Marentes, ELEMI, El Paso

    Notably, all of this year’s finalists for both the national categories and Best Chef: Texas are new. None of them received nominations in 2022.

    The finalists are drawn from a pool of semifinalists that included 10 nominations each for Houston and Dallas, seven for San Antonio, six for Austin, and two for Fort Worth.

    Last year, Texans did well in the awards, with Houston cocktail bar Julep winning Outstanding Bar Program, on top of the previously mentioned Austin winners. In addition, two Texans won media awards — Austin chef Jesse Griffiths (Dai Due) for his cookbook, The Hog Book: A Chef’s Guide to Hunting, Butchering and Cooking Wild Pigs and Texas Monthly taco editor Jose Ralat for his Tex-Mexplainer columns.

    The Foundation will reveal its Restaurant and Chef Award winners at an awards ceremony on Monday, June 5, 2023, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Media Award winners will be announced on June 3.

    Austin classical music station composes open house events for official "KMFA Day" proclamation

    House lights up

    Classical music events may be a little intimidating to get into, but Austin's friendly classical music radio station, KMFA, is making sure everyone gets involved in the most Austin way: an open house and market. At this event, Mayor Kirk Watson will declare April 1 "KMFA Day," with a proclamation followed by music, tours, lessons, and more.

    This is the station's second open house at its new home space, the bespoke Draylen Mason Music Studio, but the day of recognition is a new achievement. As part of the official proceedings, a work by Austin-born sculpture artist Betty Gold will be dedicated to former KMFA President and General Manager Ann Wilson. The work, Alas VIII (Wings VIII) (1992-1993), was recently moved to the KMFA entrance.

    Being an open house, this day festival encourages visitors to experience the different spaces through hourly tours and cloistered performances. The schedule could easily keep visitors engaged for the length of the event (2-6 pm), with appearances by Austin Saxophone Ensemble and One Ounce Opera; ballet workshops and shows by Density512 and Red Nightfall Productions; and performances by multiple local high school bands.

    There will also be more interactive offerings, like an "instrument petting zoo" and an "arts partner marketplace." Snacks will be provided by Topo Chico, and some of the events take place outside on the Malcom Cooper Patio.

    KFMA has gone through a period of dramatic change recently. George Preston is the organization's new president after Wilson, appointed in January as its first new CEO in a decade. He brings experience from Chicago, Boston, New York City, and more. This may be one of Preston's first civically minded events with the organization, but its schedule is always packed with creative happenings including fundraising dinners and appearances at festivals in and out of Austin.

    A scroll through the stations current offerings, from radio personalities to local and national programs, shows a wide commitment not just to venerable arts organizations and their canons, but to more casual, everyday arts appreciation. KMFA works closely with local schools and on-campus resources, including the Butler School at the University of Texas at Austin.

    More information about KMFA Day is available at kmfa.org.

    Where to find the most iconic — and best — meals in all of Texas

    Hit the Road

    Texans don't need much of a reason to hit the open road. Our state is brimming with natural beauty and charming small towns, but nothing motivates us to fill up the tank like a bonanza of regional foods.

    There are renowned Texas flavors to be found throughout the entire state, from small towns like Round Top to the far west end in El Paso. And with meals ranging from Tex-Mex and barbecue to Frito Pie and kolaches, the Lone Star State is known for some of the most iconic foods in America.

    When you hit the open road to explore (and taste) it all, know that a Hilton Hotel is nearby for a good night's rest. Whether you're traveling with family, friends, or as a couple, the right room is waiting with a warm welcome.

    Hope you're hungry, because here is but a small slice of some of the best.

    Goldee's BBQ, Fort Worth
    Few barbecue joints in Texas can make a name without serving the holy trinity of brisket, sausage, and ribs. Still, the young chefs and pitmasters at this Fort Worth stop one-up the competition with unexpected sides like chicken rice and collard greens and crowd-pleasers like fish and chips.

    Chicken Fried Steak
    Babe's Chicken Dinner House, Carrollton
    All Texans take their chicken fried steak with some degree of seriousness. We dare say this eatery — which originated in Carrollton and has locations all over North Texas — takes it the most seriously of all, with plenty of family-style sides to round out the table.

    La Cocina, McAllen
    Former oil worker Evin Garcia combines tradition and innovation at this McAllen haunt. Enjoy everything from birria tacos dipped in a luscious consommé to an octopus version served with traditional al pastor fixings like onion, cilantro, and grilled pineapple.

    Elotes Fanny, Austin + North Texas
    With locations in Austin, Fort Worth, and Garland, this snack shop mini-chain knows everything about corn. Get it by the cob or in a cup, and make sure to douse it in the fiery homemade Atomic Salsa.

    Fried Chicken
    Dolli's Diner, Nacogdoches
    This diner does just about everything right, but the crowning jewel of the menu is undoubtedly the chicken fried chicken. It's served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and fresh veggies for color and is best enjoyed with funnel cake fries for dessert.

    Frito Pie
    RD's Burger, Cibolo
    This casual stop does its namesake dish with aplomb, but found pure magic in its Frito Pie. It's served with no muss or fuss and occasionally on the insanely delicious burger.

    Slovacek’s, West
    When it comes to kolaches, any bakery in West will serve the real deal. Relative newcomer Slovacek's gets the vote for its dozens of fruit flavors and creative klobasnek (the meaty cousin of kolaches) filled with boudin, pepperoni, or kraut.

    Royer's Round Top Cafe, Round Top
    No trip to Round Top's famous antique fair is complete without a stop at this darling cafe. "Pie Man" Bud Royer makes every visit sweet with pies like buttermilk, pecan, and the multi-fruit Troy's Junk Berry.

    L & J Cafe, El Paso
    This El Paso tradition is by a graveyard, sure, but don't let that deter you from enjoying its queso. The miraculous concoction made with roasted green chile, tomatoes, and onions is served with just-fried tostadas.

    Leal's Tamale Factory, Lubbock
    A Lubbock classic, this mainstay doesn't go for newfangled tamale flavors like sweet potato. Order pork, chicken, or cheese and rediscover the fundamentals.

    Viet-Cajun crawfish boils
    Crawfish & Noodles, Houston
    Who knows what James Beard-nominated chef Trong Nguyen puts in his secret sauce. What we do know is that it's one of the most intensely flavorful experiences in all of Houston.

    Texas knows no bounds when it comes to to where you can go (and eat). No matter where your next foodie adventure takes you, a Hilton hotel is waiting for you.

    With over 550 Hilton hotels spanning across the state of Texas, the possibilities to earn more while exploring the Lone Star State are endless.