Austin City Limits Music Festival released the full schedules for both weekends of this year’s festival today. Though the schedule frequently demonstrates wise demographic splits – no one’s going to spend much time puzzling over whether to see headliners Foo Fighters or Disclosure on Friday night – fans will face some tough choices.
For lovers of life-affirming music, the toughest choice comes Friday at 4 p.m. when Leon Bridges‘ sincere retro soul goes up against the incredibly moving Malian rock outfit Songhoy Blues. Bridges, who skyrocketed out of Fort Worth this year, became an overnight sensation capturing the imagination of the country. His South by Southwest shows were packed to capacity and garnered rave reviews. He will certainly draw the huge crowds as well he should, but it’s a shame Songhoy Blues will be overshadowed. The band, born out of the devastating conflict in Mali which found radical Islamists banning music, remix Delta blues and classic rock with glorious gusto. Their SXSW shows were amazing celebrations of life and spirit and anyone who opts to skip the Bridges crowds and get up close and personal with the should-be-superstars will be overjoyed with the decision.
Sunday is loaded with tough calls. The conflicts start at 2:30 p.m. when shimmery pop breakout Børns is booked against the candy coated R&B sounds of Kali Uchis (Both artists made our Summery Sugar Pop Playlist). On weekend one it’s an even tougher call when the two artists are also stacked against excellent R&B breakout Kehlani. Lord Huron also plays the time slot, for fans of a folksier style of pop. At 3:30 p.m. electro pop innovators Sylvan Esso face off against Jidenna, the stylish R&B pop singer who’s the first artist pushed out but Janelle Monae’s new Wondaland imprint. Then at 4:30 p.m. British singer-songwriter Ben Howard plays against lit-rockers the Decemberists. The headliner split between the Weeknd and the Strokes will probably be clear cut for most on weekend one, but my money says thousands of young women will struggle with the decision between the chilly R&B star and the gothic pop of Florence and the Machine. If it makes the choice easier, Rolling Stone named Florence Best of the Fest at Lollapalooza last weekend.
Any self-respecting Austinite, or fan of true blues will scoff at anyone who would opt for George Ezra, the British singer-songwriter whose voice is frequently described as bluesy, over our generation’s guitar hero Gary Clark Jr. at 7 p.m. on Friday, but with 180 million spins of “Budapest”(!!!) on Spotify, Ezra clearly has a solid fan base. Also, worth noting, Clark is programmed right before Foo Fighters who featured him on their recent album and its accompanying HBO series “Sonic Highways” making a guest appearance on the Foo’s set a sure shot.
On Saturday at 3:30 p.m., rising Americana act Houndsmouth vs. homegrown it-kid Shakey Graves will be a hard choice for some. Finally, we’re not sure if anyone will be at Deadmau5′s set when the EDM act sets up against sensitive rap superstar Drake on Saturday night, but we’re positive the island of parents who set up in their chairs center field by the exit gates to wait for their young’uns will be larger than it’s ever been before.