UPDATE, 4 p.m. Thursday, May 4: An ACL Fest publicist confirmed that rapper Jay Z has been added as a festival headliner, after hints surfaced on the fest’s app and social media.
The Austin City Limits Music Festival lineup is out, and the presence of hip-hop at the top is bigger than ever this year. Two of the six headliners on the bill come from the rap realm: positive preacher of the youth revolution Chance the Rapper, and Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s cartoon rap/rock crew Gorillaz. Rounding out the headliners are the Killers, 1990s rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The XX and Martin Garrix.
PHOTOS: Artists playing ACL Fest 2017
Overall, the top tier feels a bit anticlimactic. Chance has fantastic energy and is one of the greatest forces of good in music today, so there’s probably no such thing as too much of him — but it is a little odd that he’s playing another high-profile fest in Austin the same week that this lineup was announced.
The Chili Peppers, who last played ACL Fest in 2012, still clearly have a big draw, with spring and summer dates in arenas and at festivals including Bonnaroo, Milwaukee’s Summerfest and Lollapaloza Paris. But their record sales have dwindled to the point that their latest album, 2016’s “The Getaway,” didn’t go gold. ACL Fest’s bookers apparently didn’t have a problem with recent allegations of 1990s sexual harassment leveled against band members by a former employee of the group’s record label.
Old-school ACL-ers who wish the EDM kids would get off their Zilker lawn may be sorry to see Dutch DJ Garrix, who at age 20 calls himself EDM’s youngest superstar, so high on the bill. But fans of lush, textured electropop will be thrilled about the opportunity to see Brit band the XX, who sold out two nights at ACL Live in minutes earlier this year.
It’s no surprise to see Las Vegas rockers the Killers as a headliner. Previously announced for Lollapalooza (also booked by ACL Fest’s C3 Presents), the group has a big buzz building for a new album due out later this year. Also on the rock front, near the top of the bill, is Ryan Adams, who was booked for South by Southwest this year but canceled just an hour or two before his scheduled showtime because of illness.
Other hip-hop acts in this year’s ACL Fest spotlight include Ice Cube, who takes on the throwback role LL Cool J played last year (presumably with less roses), Solange (if not her sister Beyonce, to no one’s surprise), D.R.A.M. (fresh off prominent local appearances at Emo’s and during SXSW), and frequent Austin visitors Run the Jewels.
Among the acts designated only for Weekend One (Oct. 6-8) are Cut Copy, Superduper Kyle, Royal Blood and Alison Wonderland. Acts performing only on Weekend Two (Oct. 13-15) include Glass Animals, O.A.R., Getter and Eagles of Death Metal.
A few other highlights just below the headliners level:
- Spoon. Just like in 2014, when Austin’s heavyweight-class indie-rockers released a new album and played ACL Fest, 2017 is shaping up the same way. “Hot Thoughts” came out in March, with a unique three-night residency celebration at South by Southwest. Their summer tour itinerary includes Lollapalooza in Chicago, but the group likely will get preferential stage treatment in their hometown.
- First Aid Kit. The Swedish sister duo of Klara and Johanna Söderberg played ACL Fest in 2012 and followed with appearances at Fun Fun Fun Fest in 2014 and Stubb’s in 2015. They haven’t released an album since 2014’s “Stay Gold,” but they’ve been working with renowned producer Tucker Martine in Portland, Ore., on a new disc expected out before the fest.
- The Head & the Heart. “Signs of Light,” the third Sub Pop Records release from the folk-rock sextet based in Seattle and Richmond, Va., came out last fall and further cemented the group as one of the top-drawing indie bands of its era. They’ll come to ACL Fest after summer appearances at Bonnaroo, the Newport Folk Festival and Lollapalooza, among other high-profile events. It’s unclear whether co-founder Josiah Johnson, who didn’t appear on the band’s fall dates after the new album was released, will be in the lineup for the fest. The group, which last played ACL Fest in 2014, will be in Austin later this month to tape their second episode of the “Austin City Limits” TV show.
Other locals beyond Spoon are psych-rockers the Black Angels, fresh off a new album released two weeks ago; electronica duo Missio, which played a sold-out show at the Parish Wednesday night in advance of its debut album “Loner” coming out May 19; roots-rockers the Band of Heathens, who returned with a new album this year after a spell working with ultraconservative musician Kid Rock; and of course western-swing kingpins Asleep at the Wheel, the only act to play all 15 previous ACL Fests.
Wheel leader Ray Benson’s duo with Dale Watson, Dale & Ray, got a spot as well. Also of note among Austin acts: Capyac, Paul Cauthen, Melat, Carson McHone, Mobley, Midland, Tomar & the FCs, the Wild Now, Annabelle Chairlegs, Rattletree and the Barton Hills Choir.
A handful of highlights a bit lower on the fest’s announcement poster: Americana performer Valerie June, who taped the “Austin City Limits” TV show a couple of years ago and played SXSW this year; indie singer-songwriter Angel Olsen, who’s scheduled to tape the show on July 25 after an eye-catching performance at the Mohawk in February; and fast-rising indie-rock duo Lemon Twigs, winners of this year’s Grulke Prize for Developing U.S. Act at SXSW.
And here are a few sleeper picks further down the undercard: Oklahoma roots-rock upstart Parker Millsap, whose “Austin City Limits” TV taping the day after the November 2016 election was among the highlights of the show’s 42nd season; African band Songhoy Blues, a favorite of both SXSW film and music audiences in 2015; and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, led by one of Willie Nelson’s sons who has spent much of the past year touring as a member of Neil Young’s band.
A parting observation about the changing nature of the festival: The last time the Red Hot Chili Peppers played, in 2012, other names at the top of the bill included Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Jack White, the Black Keys, Florence + the Machine and Iggy & the Stooges.
ACL Fest 2017 takes place on October 6-8 and 13-15. Three-day passes to the festival, $255, go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday at aclfestival.com. Daily schedules and single-day tickets will be released sometime this summer.