Austin at ACL Fest: Meet Wood & Wire

As we ramp up to two weekends of Austin City Limits Music Festival we’re doing a series of spotlights on local bands playing the festival, the true presence of Austin at ACL. Today we kick off with local bluegrass quartet Wood & Wire. Lead vocalist and guitarist Tony Kamel took a few minutes to help us introduce his band and explore his experience of the festival.


ACL Fest set time: Sun. Oct. 12 at noon

What are three words that describe your band’s sound?
Original, drivin’, bluegrass.

What’s your most memorable onstage moment of 2014 so far?
The entire set we played at The Parish in Austin last month.  It was a packed house and we had just gotten home from a long tour.  We hadn’t played in Austin since February and it was our first Austin show with our new mandolin player, Billy Bright, who is just an insane player….what a killer night.

What’s your favorite memory from ACL Fests past?
My 3rd ACL in 2005.  The Allman Brothers.  Derek Trucks’ guitar solo on Freddie King’s “Woman Across the River”.  I was so pumped after the song that I just kept screaming like a crazy person after the crowd stopped applauding.  Then everyone (including the band) laughed at me.  To this day I haven’t heard a recording of that but I’d love to hear one if anyone has it.

Name three songs you can’t wait to hear at ACL Fest 2014.
Any three songs by Lake Street Dive.  Don’t miss that band.  Seriously.

What’s the one thing out-of-towners should do before leaving Austin?

 If you’re from out of state, learn how to two-step and then go dance with someone at The White Horse or The Broken Spoke. Then when you go home, teach someone else how to do it.  It’s easy and it’s a blast.  We travel all over the country and just don’t see it enough outside of Texas.

 Got any ACL Fest pro tips?

If you can ride a bike, there’s no better way to get to and from the festival.  Don’t drink and ride (or drive) though!

ACL Fest artist spotlight: Vic Mensa

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. 

Vic Mensa
Vic Mensa

Artist: Vic Mensa

From: Chicago, Ill.


At the fest: Sun., Oct. 5, 1 p.m. (weekend one only)

About the artist: The 21-year-old rap prodigy emerged from the Save Money hip hop collective, home to fellow Chicago rising star Chance the Rapper. With a fresh style, Mensa seems comfortable dropping his quick-witted lyrics over everything from melodic throwback grooves to slick club beats. In 2013, support spots on J. Cole and Wale’s What Dreams May Come tour and a string of European dates with Danny Brown helped elevate his profile at home and abroad and earlier this year XXL magazine annointed him part of the 2014 freshman class.

Before this year’s South by Southwest Music Festival, Fader Magazine executive editor Jessica Robertson pegged Mensa as one of 2014’s top artists to watch. “He’s a nice counterpart to Chance the Rapper,” she said. “He also has that weird interesting eclectic thing happening too. I love hip-hop that’s sort of on the fringe. Hip-hop that takes chances.”


ACL Fest Gameplan: Shut Up and Dance

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, we kick off with the groove fanatic gameplan.

Arlo Bush of Lake Highlands and Jessica Estrada of San Angelo dance to the music of Bomba Estereo at ACL Fest on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. ASHLEY LANDIS/FOR AMERICAN STATESMAN
Arlo Bush of Lake Highlands and Jessica Estrada of San Angelo dance to the music of Bomba Estereo at ACL Fest on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. ASHLEY LANDIS/FOR AMERICAN STATESMAN

The playlist: Shut Up and Dance

The strategy: Hit as many body rocking sets as possible for a three-day dance marathon full of euphoric grooves.

Essential gear:

  • Comfortable shoes – you’ll regret those cute platform sandals before the sun goes down.
  • Ear plugs – you’ll be close enough to the stage to feel the full-body bass, right?
  • Water bottle – even if you don’t choose to alcoholically lower your inhibitions, staying hydrated is crucial to make this thing work.

Non-essential gear:

  • Brightly colored skirts, sundresses or tees
  • Anything that glitters or glows in the dark

The gameplan


Noon: Sphynx (Austin Ventures, weekend one only) The local trio comes armed with leopard print skinny jeans, catchy hooks and glam pop jams, everything you need to set a body in motion.

2:15: Capital Cities (Samsung Galaxy) Bop around in “Kangaroo Court” with the groovy L.A. duo

3:15 Bleachers (Miller Lite) You don’t have to shut up for this one. In fact, if you dance madly in the middle of Zilker Park while screaming “I Wanna Get Better,” it will probably feel amazing.

6:15  Ozomatli (Zilker Park) Switch your hips to the hip-hop laced cumbia grooves of this L.A. powerhouse.

7:15 p.m. Glitch Mob (Austin Ventures) Champions of the L.A. beat scene throw down furious, driving electro dance tracks.

8:15 p.m. Outkast. (Honda) As Andre 3000 once said, “If you don’t move yo feet, then I don’t eat.” The ATLiens know what’s up.


11:15 a.m.Riders Against the Storm (Austin Ventures, weekend two only). Yes, it’s early, but the local hip hop duo’s new song is called “Booty Sweat.” ‘Nuff said. .

11:30 a.m. Chain Gang of 1974 (Retailmenot) Cool anthemic indietronica to kick start day two.

2:30 p.m. Trombone Shorty (Honda) Deep pocket funky grooves and blasts of NOLA brass.

5:30 p.m. Icona Pop (Miller Lite) Last year’s sensation, the Swedish electro pop duo drops eurocool dance tracks for the 90s (expletive) in all of us.

6:30 p.m. Beats Antique (Zilker Park) Middle Eastern rhythms, a gypsy punk aesthetic and a live belly dancers on stage. Get your shimmy on.

7:30 p.m. Major Lazer (Retailmenot). Super-producer Diplo leads the hottest dancehall throwdown north of the Carribean.

8:30 p.m. Skrillex (Honda) Sure Dr. Dre lays some bangin’ beats but truth be told, Em’ doesn’t care if you dance, Skrillex does.


11:15 a.m. Hard Proof (Austin Ventures, weekend one only) Wake up your body and soul with Fela-inspired afrobeat rhythms and a wall of brass.

2 p.m. Bernhoft (BMI) The Norwegian R&B artist is an up and coming dance floor master.

3 p.m. Gramatik (Miller Lite) An inventive producer from NYC via Slovenia who chops up dusty old grooves and recreates them as modern bangers.

4 p.m. Fitz and the Tantrums (Honda) Good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ soul.

6 p.m. Lettuce (Bevintel Stage weekend one, Zilker Stage weekend two) Thousands of indie rockers will flock to see Spoon and the Replacements leaving plenty of room for soul fanatics to “Do It Like You Do” with the Brooklyn collective.

7 p.m. Chromeo (Retailmenot) Slick and sexy electro funk straight outta Montreal.

8 p.m. Calvin Harris (Honda) The Scottish DJ and producer hosts the final throwdown of the weekend.

ACL Fest releases schedule. Let the time slot standoffs begin


Austin City Limits Music Festival released the 2014 schedule today on the fest’s mobile app. The first thing that jumps out on a glance over the schedule? There is very little staggering of sets. In past years sets were slotted to start at 15 minute intervals, which not only helped crowd flow through the park, but also gave fest goers a chance to mitigate conflicts, catching half  of one artist’s set then hustling across the park to catch the end of another. This year by 3:30 in the afternoon most days sets on the four big stages will run concurrently.

The two headliner sets are scheduled to start at 8:15 p.m. Friday, 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and 8 p.m. on Sunday. Odds are pretty good that it’s not the conflicts of Beck vs. Outkast, Eminem vs. Skrillex and Pearl Jam vs. Calvin Harris that will have fans wringing their hands. But there are plenty of schedule stand offs earlier each day that are sure to confound folks. On Friday, for example, British soul artist Sam Smith, the super breakout star of summer 2014 takes the stage at 5:15, the same moment as St. Vincent. On Saturday at 5:30 Australian rapper Iggy Azaela, another huge breakout of 2014, plays against last year’s sensation, Swedish electro-pop duo Icona Pop. A couple hours later, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday Broken Bells and Major Lazer perform simulatneously. On Sunday at 6 p.m. local indie pop darlings Spoon play the same timeslot at alt-rock pioneers the Replacements.

One addition to the schedule is R&B artist Jhené Aiko, who will play weekend one only, presumably to balance the schedule against weekend two which features the only appearance from New Zealand pop sensation Lorde.

The full schedule is available on the fest’s mobile app. Single-day tickets for Friday and Sunday of both weekends are still available.

ACL Fest preview: Beck shows broad range at ‘ACL’ taping

Beck tapes an "Austin City Limits" appearance at ACL Live. SCOTT NEWTON/COURTESY OF KLRU
Beck tapes an “Austin City Limits” appearance at ACL Live. SCOTT NEWTON/COURTESY OF KLRU

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Beck hit the stage at ACL Live rocking last night. Taping an encore appearance for the 40th season of “Austin City Limits,” Beck and his band blazed onto the stage with a crowd rousing rock god rendition of “Devil’s Haircut” off his classic 1996  album “Odelay.”  From there he kept things upbeat powering through a vigorously rhythmic “Black Tambourine” and a tacitly funky take on “Think I’m in Love” before pausing to address the delighted crowd.

“Now that we’ve worked you up into a pseudo-frenzy,” the slightly built rocker said, “we’re going to take it way down.”

He sang through a melancholy take of “Golden Age” off his 2002 heartbreak album “Sea of Change” before going into a series of tracks from his new album “Morning Phase” which has a similar slow-paced plaintive feel. He played “Blackbird Chain,” “Don’t Let it Go” and “Country Down” before digging into his acoustic back catalog for more languid heart-tuggers. The audience was attentive and very receptive, if not riotous, and though Beck was fully committed to the music, singing and playing guitar with laudable skill and beautiful attention to detail, he seemed a bit apologetic between tracks.

“I figured we’d do some of the quiet stuff now and get it out of the way,” he confessed seven or so songs in. A seasoned performer with a keen sense of crowd dynamics, it’s a safe bet that Beck won’t linger quite so long in the slow section of his catalog when he returns for ACL Fest in the fall. When he kicked the set back into high gear at the end the crowd went wild. He ripped through his first hit “Loser” and the free range electro pop hit “Girl” before closing out the set with ferocious rock ‘n’ roll demolition show rendition of “E-Pro” that ended with the whole band strewn across the stage on their backs for a few moments before crawling off.

The ecstatic crowd cheered voraciously and the applause was thunderous when Beck returned to the stage. However, this being a made-for-tv experience, Beck explained he would have to redo some of the acoustic stuff for the show. He went on to reprise five slow-moving numbers before giving the audience the encore they were waiting for — an extended version of the 1996 “Where It’s At” with no turntables avant jazz breakdowns and performance art flirtations with a microphone.

The set overall was an impressive display of the artist’s range and the audience’s patience and attention even through the repeated tracks was a testament to his enduring appeal.