ACL Fest artist spotlight: AFI

ACL Fest artists AFI. Press photo
ACL Fest artists AFI. Press photo

Artist: AFI

From: Ukiah, Calif.


At the fest: Sundays, Oct. 5 and 12, 2 p.m. on the Honda stage


Surely the band that made lineup watchers go “Oh, well will you look at that,” goth punk stalwarts AFI fill the nostalgia gap occupied last year by Jimmy Eat World. Short for A Fire Inside, the cult favorite band is perhaps best known for two big mid-2000s singles: “Girl’s Not Grey” and “Miss Murder.” Calling AFI a “cult favorite” is perhaps too polite — their fanbase is passionately dedicated, especially to ever-uniquely coiffed frontman Davey Havok. And say what you will about the man, but he knows his way around a mascara brush.

Musically, the band’s melodic hardcore style has always been tinged with a commercially friendly sense of Halloweenish macabre. It doesn’t so much whisper spookily as it does hit you in the face with a giant foam rubber tombstone. Their official fanclub is called Despair Faction.

ACL Fest Artist Spotlight: HAERTS


Artist: HAERTS

From: New York City


At the fest: Sunday both weekends, 11:30 a.m., Miller Lite stage

About the artist: Not a typo.

Darkly dance-ready like MS MR but aloof like Mazzy Star, multinational band HAERTS slots right into today’s not quite ready for Top 40 niche. When history looks back on the early 2010s, it will be remembered as a time when this kind of mystic-futuristic electro-pop had its moment.

The band, with members hailing from Germany, the U.K. and the U.S., credit some of their upward trajectory to astrological fortune, which sounds about right after listening to the moody but kinetic cipher “Hemiplegia.” The track’s title refers to a semi-paralytic condition occasionally experienced by singer Nini Fabi; one time when HAERTS was in the studio recording, Fabi suddenly lost her capacity to speak thanks to her hemiplegia. That tension between desire and ability, the band’s bio says, is meant to echo through their lyrics.

HAERTS has collaborated with fellow musician and producer Jean-Philip Grobler (of synthy outfit St. Lucia, whose album “When the Night”was a 2013 pop standout) on tracks for their forthcoming LP. Gobler’s sumptuous hook surfing rubs off a little on the more sonically elusive band in “Wings.”

The band’s early ACL set is good real estate for indie up-and-comers, and HAERTS has been on the tip of the musical tongue for a hot second. Similarly bubbling names like Dan Croll, alt-J and First Aid Kit have all recently played for the committed noon-ish discovery crowd, who are looking to score a new musical find before the latecomers infest.

Could share a bill with: St. Lucia, Sky Ferreira, Wye Oak, MS MR

ACL Fest Gameplan: Hear the Hits

There are many ways to approach a huge event like the Austin City Limits Music Festival. This year, in addition to our regular critic’s picks and artist spotlights we’re offering game plans, various strategies for how to approach the festival depending on what kind of experience you’re looking to have. For each game plan we’re providing both a suggested schedule and a playlist. Today, the Top 40 lover’s gameplan.

Clockwise from top left: Eminem, Fitz and the Tantrums, Lorde, Foster the People.
Clockwise from top left: Eminem, Fitz and the Tantrums, Lorde, Foster the People.

The playlist: Hear the Hits

The strategy: Forget all those obscure bands you’ve never heard of. You want to scream out the lyrics to your favorite radio jams at the top of your lungs.

Essential gear:

  • Instagram – Post a shaky-cam video of Iggy Azalea shakin’ it to make your friends jealous.

  • Phone charger – See above.

  • Flag – You’re scoping out the big ticket, big draw shows. If you have any hope of meeting your friends there, you’ll need a landmark. If you have any hope of spotting yourself on the aerial cam … you’ll need a landmark.

Non-essential gear:

  • Extra cash – Your game plan isn’t focused on scoping out every new band you can find, and you won’t be getting to Zilker until lunchtime, anyway. Gotta have nacho money.

  • Headphones – But who knows! You might get curious and want to check out someone you’ve never heard of. That’s what Spotify Premium is for.

The gameplan


2:15: Capital Cities (Samsung Galaxy) The “Safe and Sound” dance bros are your first safe bet for festival karaoke.

3:15 Bleachers (Miller Lite): You know Jack Antonoff from fun.’s ubiquitous “Some Nights” and “We Are Young.” Summer alt-radio has been kind to his side project’s heart-on-sleeve “I Wanna Get Better.” (Bonus: Potential Lena Dunham sighting. The “Girls” star is Antonoff’s girlfriend.)

5:15 Sam Smith (Miller Lite): Stay with him. If he doesn’t do an acoustic “Latch,” your money back.

6:15 Foster the People (Samsung Galaxy): There’s not a track from 2011’s “Torches” that you won’t recognize. Better yet, the “Pumped Up Kicks” dance-poppers put on an electrifying live show, with surprisingly strong vocals from frontman Mark Foster.

8:15 Outkast (Honda): This is it. You have laid awake at night, dreaming of one day shaking it like a Polaroid picture with Andre 3000 and Big Boi themselves. You are the speakerboxxx. You are the love below. Go to them, Lucy Lius and babydolls. Get on the floor.


4:30 The Head and the Heart (Samsung Galaxy): Truth be told, Saturday is a little light on hitmakers. But you can go down in the valley a little ways with your sorority sister’s favorite feel good folksters.

5:30 Iggy Azalea (RetailMeNot): We would recommend Icona Pop at the same time, but your window for enjoying a live performance of “Fancy” grows treacherously thinner by the day.

6:30 Lana del Rey (Samsung Galaxy): S-s-s-summertime, summertime radness.

7:30 Major Lazer (RetailMeNot): You have gotten sloppy to “Bubble Butt” on Dirty Sixth and you know it. (Bonus: Diplo’s dancehall spasm-inducer “Pon de Floor” is sampled in Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls).” It’ll be like Queen Bey is right there!)

8:30 Eminem (Samsung Galaxy): If you wanted to hear hits and you bought a pass this year, you’ve been waiting months to hear “The Real Slim Shady,” “My Name Is,” “Lose Yourself,” “Love The Way You Lie,” “Berzerk,” “The Monster,” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.


2:00 AFI (Honda): Slather that extra-long front bang with gel and thrash, Rock Band style, to “Miss Murder.”

3:00 Cults (Austin Ventures): You’ve heard their one and only hit “Go Outside” on “The Vampire Diaries,” “90210,” “Gossip Girl,” and every time you’ve walked into Urban Outfitters.

4:00 Fitz and the Tantrums (Honda): If you haven’t heard “The Walker” this year, you’ve been ensconced in a hyperbaric chamber.

5:00 Phantogram (Miller Lite): It’s a toss-up between this electronic duo and other electronic duo (and inexplicable holdovers from 2007) Chromeo, but “Don’t Move” was in “Pitch Perfect.” That’s as good a tiebreaker as any.

6:00 Spoon (Honda): Austin rock royalty who are in no way “The Underdog.”

7:00 Lorde (RetailMeNot, weekend two only): Get saved. Amen.

7:00 Zedd (Miller Lite, weekend one): But if you’re only going to weekend one, this time slot should be a no-brainer with the German DJ/Ariana Grande collaborator.

8:00 Calvin Harris (Honda): Pearl Jam may have “Even Flow,” but this Scottish beat maestro has “Summer,” which is arguably the song of the season.

ACL Fest artist spotlight: Miniature Tigers

It’s coming: Austin City Limits Music Festival takes over Zilker Park Oct. 3-5 and 10-12. Leading up to the fest, we’ll shine the spotlight on some of the artists you might not have heard of in this year’s lineup. 

Miniature Tigers

Artist: Minature Tigers

From: New York, N.Y.


At the fest: Sunday, 1-1:40 p.m., both weekends on Austin Ventures Stage

About the artist

Synth-ish indie dreamers Miniature Tigers named their 2012 album “Mia Pharaoh.”  They named their most recent album, released earlier this year, “Cruel Runnings.” Name one good reason not to support a band that does things like that.

The New Yorkers now have four full-length albums under their belts, and not one of them sounds exactly like another. Their first, “Tell It To the Volcano,” is guitar-heavy with a twee bent; their second, “Fortress,” is a little rougher around the edges, with some garage rock scuzz thrown in the mix; and the aforementioned electro-drenched “Mia Pharaoh” is full of faux-80s workout video vibes and winking sleaziness.

For “Cruel Runnings,” Miniature Tigers vocalist Charlie Brand said he went for a nostalgia factor, citing Weezer’s Blue Album as a touchstone. The first single, “Swimming Pool Blues,” definitely shies away from the ironic jazzercise-cool of “Mia Pharaoh” in favor of big-hearted hooks and singalong refrains; the shadow of Phoenix’s “Bankrupt!” looms large.

But overall, there’s less Rivers Cuomo apparent in the shoulderpad synth of new tracks like “Oblivious” than there was in 2008’s Survivor-aping “Cannibal Queen.” The early afternoon ACL set should be a pleasant enough hangover cure for Saturday night partiers shuffling back into Zilker.

Could share a bill with: Ra Ra Riot, Animal Kingdom, The Format, Phoenix


ACL Fest artist spotlight: My Brightest Diamond

It’s coming: Austin City Limits Music Festival takes over Zilker Park Oct. 3-5 and 10-12. Leading up to the fest, we’ll shine the spotlight on some of the artists you might not have heard of in this year’s lineup. 

Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond. JULIEN BOURGEOIS/PRESS PHOTO
Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond. JULIEN BOURGEOIS/PRESS PHOTO

Artist: My Brightest Diamond

From: Detroit


At the fest: Sat., Oct. 4, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Bevintel Stage; Sat., Oct. 11, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Zilker Stage


A University of North Texas music grad and Arkansas baby, multi-instrumentalist Shara Worden’s sonic influences and biography are probably inseperable. Anyone who grew up the daughter of a Pentecostal organist mother and accordion player father, traveled to Russia to record an early EP, studied opera in New York and pals around with The Decemberists is going to sound like a clattering, soaring, indie pop Rube Goldberg.

The key to Worden’s best known musical project, My Brightest Diamond, is knowing that she’s bosom buddies with emotional-bro-slash-chill-mystic Sufjan Stevens. Worden and Stevens are frequent collaborators and share a contemplative spirituality and orchestral geekiness to their music. Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty label released all three of the band’s albums, with fourth LP “This Is My Hand” set to drop Sept. 16.

For a taste of My Brightest Diamond’s sound, look no further than her most well-known song and her most recent. On 2011’s “I Have Never Loved Someone,” Worden’s windy operatics envelop a gorgeous baroque lullaby. On new single “Pressure,” Worden sounds like latter-day David Bowie leading a marching band. My Brightest Diamond’s late afternoon ACL set could be a lush respite before the second-tier acts go on. Hopefully, her more ponderous instincts won’t melt into the late afternoon heat.

Could share a bill with: Arcade Fire, Björk, Bat For Lashes, a Tilda Swinton DJ set (which is a thing, as it should be)

This week’s playlist: ACL Fest aftershows


As Deborah Sengupta Stith wrote earlier this week, ACL Fest did right by music fans this year, scheduling a smorgasbord of side parties around the festival’s two weekends. Pre-sales started this morning, but tickets officially go on sale for these gigs Friday at 10 a.m.

This week’s playlist offers a sampler of the acts playing the ACL aftershows. Most of these artists also appear on our ACL Fest 2014 playlist, but some are just in town for these dates only, like Tegan and Sara and Rhye. Also, catch up on new tracks from Jenny Lewis and Spoon, who both released albums within the past few weeks. For a taste of what you can expect at these aftershows, listen to live performance recordings from The Preatures and The Head and the Heart. 

Check out the ACL Fest 2014 Aftershows playlist, now on Spotify.

This week’s playlist: Making tough choices at ACL Fest

Eminem (left) and Skrillex will duke it out during the 8:30 p.m. Saturday slot at ACL Fest 2014.
Eminem (left) and Skrillex will duke it out during the 8:30 p.m. Saturday slot at ACL Fest 2014.

The schedule for Austin City Limits Festival 2014 is out. Now comes the hard part.

As Deborah Sengupta Stith wrote Tuesday, there’s very little staggering of sets this year, with most acts leaving the starting gate at the same time on their respective stages. What does that mean for festgoers? You’re going to have to conduct your own musical version of the Hunger Games.

Just in case you don’t know which act is worth your precious, sweaty time, we’ve compiled a playlist matching up some of the key ACL Fest schedule conflicts. There might not be a whole lot of overlap on some simultaneous performances. Calvin Harris and Pearl Jam probably aren’t sharing spots on many peoples’ short lists. But there are a few rock-and-a-hard-place decisions to be made. Let The Replacements andSpoon duke it out on your headphones, and make Outkast and Beck compete for your love.

(By the way, don’t get us started on Jenny Lewis vs. Phantogram vs. Real Estate. Team 360 might need clones on Sunday.)

Remember: Check out the full schedule for both weekends the ACL Fest site, then listen to our playlist on Spotify while you wring your hands in agony. Still don’t know whether you should see Iggy Azalea or Icona Pop? Check back with Austin360 closer to the fest for our critics’ takes on resolving the toughest conflicts.

(But really, ACL Fest, St. Vincent and Sam Smith at the same dang time? Oy.)