The lineup for Austin City Limits Music Festival dropped this morning and for their 15th anniversary, the festival has finally landed the white whale of alternative rock. Radiohead will headline this year’s fest. Also headlining this year are Mumford & Sons, a band whose banjo-toting folksy rock is such a natural fit for ACL it’s hard to believe this will be their debut appearance. Kendrick Lamar, who put in an astounding ‘Austin City Limits’ television taping last year, will also headline alongside electro-dance band LCD Soundsystem, who reunited in 2016 after a five year hiatus. If you enjoyed Major Lazer’s 7 p.m show in 2014, possibly the raunchiest set in ACL Fest history, you’ll be happy to know Diplo’s crew will return this year to headline. Norwegian DJ Kygo rounds out the 2016 headliners.
Three day passes to the festival, which runs for two weekends, Sept. 30-Oct. 2 and Oct. 7-9 at Zilker Park, go on sale for $255 at 10 a.m on Thursday morning at aclfestival.com.
Taking the fest back to its twangy roots this year are local country legend Willie Nelson (weekend two only) and Kentucky country bluegrass upstart Chris Stapleton (weekend one only). Nelson’s good friend, progressive country sweetheart Kacey Musgraves is on the bill for weekend one of this year’s fest as is wistful songsmith Andrew Bird and red hot singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff will play both weekends with his Night Sweats.
French dream pop outfit M83, who played Stubb’s last month will return to the fest as will sister act Haim. Rockers Cage the Elephant, Two Door Cinema Club and Young the Giant are all on the schedule and Band of Horses, who played a night show last year will be on the bill proper this go round. Local Natives, Foals and Cold War Kids are also on the bill.
Hip-hop at the fest has been steadily growing in recent years. In 2016, Lamar’s Black Hippie crew mate Schoolboy Q is on the bill alongside recent breakout Tory Lanez and Flying Lotus the master producer who’s doing some of the most interesting jazzy hip-hop influenced composition in the game right now. Afro-Korean rapper Anderson.Paak, who slayed South by Southwest with his band the Free Nationals this year will triumphantly return (for weekend two only) and Lizzo, the Minneapolis spitta we should all be talking about will also be in town. Odd Future alum Domo Genesis will be in town If you want to keep it old school, L.L. Cool J will do his part to knock you out at the fest.
Continuing a solid run of including cutting edge R&B, this year the fest has booked falsetto kingpin Gallant, “Rise Up” singer Andra Day and British soul artist Corinne Bailey Rae. Jazz vocalist Gregory Porter will also perform as will Tuareg guitarist and singer Bombino and Colombian psych dance powerhouse Bomba Estereo.
In addition to the EDM headliners, dance music acts the Chainsmokers and Flume both get high billing. Other notable artists include Melanie Martinez, a former contestant on “the Voice” who’s been making waves with her creepy funhouse act, San Marcos angst rockers Blue October, Lorde’s homie rap rocker Raury, dancehall-oriented siblings Wild Belle and Basia Bulat, who half our team fell in love with at SXSW this year.
Local artists at the fest include Wild Child, Bayonne, Matt the Electrician and Israel Nash (weekend one) and Keeper, Walker Lukens and the Side Arms and Magna Carda (weekend two).
Amy Corbin, who heads booking for ACL Fest says Radiohead has been on the fest’s wish list “since the beginning,” but with an act of that stature timing is key and it’s never been right for ACL. In 2008, when they played Lollapalooza, the other major U.S. festival booked by ACL promoter C3 Presents, Corbin says the band was looking to tour in spring and summer. This happened a few more times in the years since. “This year we were excited that we were able to fall into a window that they were actively looking at,” she says.
Corbin was also determined to land Kendrick Lamar, who she considers “more than just a hip-hop artist.”
“I meet so many people of all ages everybody comes back and tells me the same thing,” she says. “‘I saw Kendrick Lamar play… oh my god it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.”
Hip-hop breakout Anderson.Paak, who Corbin says sounds like “Kendrick Lamar and Leon Bridges had a baby” was also a must have this year. “I caught his set at Southby at Stubb’s and I was like, ‘Whoa, yeah. This guy. This guy,'” she says.
Paak is only on weekend two at a festival because he was already booked at an international festival for weekend one. Corbin says scheduling problems account for about 50 percent of the artists who only play one weekend of the fest. Last year’s festival closers Florence and the Machine were only on one weekend because the band also had an international commitment. Corbin says those sorts of variations near the top of the lineup are “not ideal.”
“It forces people to really pick what they want to do,” she says. The headliners are the same for both weekends of the fest this year.
For emerging artists on the lower tier of the lineup, playing two weekends with a week of downtime in between can be cost prohibitive. For locals, Corbin splits up the early spots to offer as many artists as possible an opportunity to perform.
Corbin is thrilled the most famous local on the bill, Willie Nelson, will return to the fest for the first time in a decade this year. “He’s our Austin, Texas treasure here and it feels pretty good to have him back on the stage,” she says.