ACL Fest wish lists from our staff

USE FIFTH ON FRONT Anderson Paak & the Free Nationals at NPR Music's SXSW Showcase at Stubb's on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman
Anderson Paak & the Free Nationals at NPR Music’s SXSW Showcase at Stubb’s on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Austin City Limits Fest will release the lineup for the 2016 festival at 6 a.m. on Thursday and $255 three-day passes to this year’s event go on sale a few hours later at 10 a.m. The big rumor going into this year’s festival is British alt-rock juggernaut Radiohead, who are playing promoter C3 Presents’ Lollapalooza festival in July, will finally make an appearance at ACL Fest.  Other headliners for the Chicago event who seem likely to cross over to our fall festival? LCD Soundsystem, who are back together following a five-year hiatus and, insidiously enduring ’90s rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

We’re not betting people, but let’s just say the odds of all of those artists making the 2016 ACL Fest lineup are better than average. But who are we really interested in? Our staffers weigh in with their personal ACL Fest wish lists.


Frank Ocean: The follow up to 2012’s “Channel Orange” is starting to feel like the “Chinese Democracy” of progressive R&B, but we’re holding out hope that a release date is on the horizon. If so, there’s no one we’d rather see in a sunset slot than the most artistically compelling former member of the Odd Future collective.

Miguel: If we can’t have Frank Ocean for our emotional, sexy music interlude we’ll take Miguel.

Anderson Paak: The rapper/singer/dancer/superstar performer destroyed South by Southwest a few months back. The big stage is waiting for him.

Andra Day: “Cheers to the Fall” the 2015 release from the rising star who’s currently on tour with Leon Bridges and taping an ‘Austin City Limits’ episode next month was one of last year’s best R&B albums.

Big Grams: Big Boi and Phantogram? Yes, please.

Wolf Alice: One of the best emerging rock bands out there.


Waterboys: Genius songwriter: check (Scotland’s Mike Scott). Local angle: check (guitarist Zach Ernst). Super-cool backing band: check (longtime fiddle ace Steve Wickham, Muscle Shoals bass legend David Hood, outrageously entertaining keyboardist Paul Brown). One of the best local shows in recent memory: check (April 2015 at the Paramount). Bonus: check out their Prince cover (above), which they were playing well before Prince left us. Sign these guys up, now.

Drive-By Truckers: Because if the aforementioned David Hood might be in the mix, it’s just common sense to have his son Patterson Hood’s great indie-rock band too.

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit: And if you’re going to have the Truckers, get their soaring former member, too. Sturgill Simpson played last year, and the biggest buzz now is on Chris Stapleton, but among country music’s current crop of saviors, Isbell and his band still stand head-and-shoulders above all.

Courtney Barnett: Makeup date for the Levitation washout, please? Sure, “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party,” but please come to the festival.

Little Green Cars: The little Irish band that could. They wowed a Parish crowd on a Monday night last month. (Maybe they could tape “Austin City Limits” while they’re here.)

Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra: The New Zealand group’s show at the Belmont in early 2015 was just the kind of quirky, lovable performance that could make for big festival buzz. Plus, with the new Auckland City Limits venture, more consistent Kiwi representation is a good thing, right?


St. Lucia: The synth-pop outfit’s “Matter” is big and bright, and they sweated liquid victory at SXSW this year.

The 1975: Their sprawling sophomore album and a memorable “Saturday Night Live” appearance are enough to score a high-bill slot. Lead singer Matthew Healy is riding major Bowie vibes on several recent tracks, which would either play very well or very disastrously. Plus: teen ticket sales.

The Joy Formidable: The Welsh rockers just stopped in town, but I need some manic grinning to go with my festival guitar shreds.

Explosions in the Sky: After missing their Paramount Theatre engagement, I’m willing to brave the Zilker Park heat for these guys. Texas forever.

Silversun Pickups: See the reasons for Joy Formidable above, but replace “manic grinning” with “terror inducing dread.”

Cyndi Lauper: Lady has a country album on the way. The Unusual One would be a coup for the legacy act camp. But she’s set for an ACL Live gig in September, so this is pure fantasy.

Sufjan Stevens: The artist behind my favorite album on 2015 played Coachella. Let me cry in the sun.

Will this be the year Radiohead plays ACL Fest?

 Jay Janner/American-Statesman - Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs at the Frank Erwin Center on Wednesday March 7, 2012.
Jay Janner/American-Statesman – Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs at the Frank Erwin Center on Wednesday March 7, 2012.

For the better part of a decade, the biggest question around the Austin City Limits Festival lineup has revolved around a certain British alt-rock juggernaut. Though they threw us a bone with Thom Yorke’s other project Atoms For Peace in 2013, every year the answer has always been the same: No, Radiohead will not be playing ACL Fest.

But could this year be different?

Over the past week or so, the internet has been aflame with rumors of a new Radiohead album that may or may not be coming in June. More importantly, Radiohead is the top billed act at Lollapalooza in Chicago, the other big fest booked by Austin’s C3 Presents.

The odds are looking very good for Radiohead fans.

We’ll know for certain early in the morning (6 a.m.) on Thursday, May 5 when the lineup for the festival,  scheduled for two weekends, Sept. 20-Oct. 2 and Oct. 7-9, is announced. Tickets to the fest will go on sale at 10 a.m. that same day. More information.