PREVIEW: Top Picks for Austin City Limits 2012

The following is a short, i.e. by no means comprehensive, list of my personal must-see shows this weekend at the 2012 Festival, followed by a short proof of my logic. Hopefully, even if you disagree, you will see that there is at least some method in what is assuredly mostly madness. As a general rule, I have tried to only include bands that play before 5pm since personal experience dictates that after five, most people’s band list is unwavering. However, early afternoon is a perfect opportunity to sample some fresh fruit in the musical Eden that is Zilker Park. Please, enjoy…

Friday, Oct. 12th @ Bud Light Stage 12:30pm:
If you can’t make it to Zilker Park early enough to catch The Wombats (which wouldn’t kill you, would it?), I really can’t think of a better band to kick-off the festivus with than Los Campesinos!. I’ve been singing the praises of this eclectic indie pop-rock outfit out of Wales for years now, and their set tomorrow is guaranteed to induce an early afternoon dance party that will perk you up faster than a swift kick to the arse. Don’t believe me? Crank up Hold On Now, Youngster and hold on tight; it’s a lot like puberty – a seriously bumpy ride with major payoff in the end, wink wink. All in all, really, what more can you ask for out of the first band to strike it up on the main stage…

Friday, Oct. 12th @ Honda Stage 1:15pm:
There’s no way around it, so here it is: if you come all the way to and don’t catch at least part of the First Aid Kit set, then shame on you, for shame… This “Swedish folk duo” consists of golden-headed and silver-tongued sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg. They can not only carry one hell of a tune, but they also know how to write songs. In fact, their sophomore album The Lion’s Roar is nothing if not a showcase of their pure, unbridled musical talents. If you’re looking for a sample, give song “Emmylou” a try and see if it doesn’t pierce the heart; or else, throw on track “Wolf” and tell me afterwards you don’t feel it in your bones. It’s no small wonder that I have heard First Aid Kit often described as a female incarnation of Fleet Foxes and the two bands must feel similarly as they have appeared together recently. The subtly soulful twang in the tender vocals is all but certain to strike a cord with the Texans in the audience tomorrow. And truth be told, I firmly believe that you’ll be seeing a lot more of these talented young ladies in the very near future, and their appearance at ACL should be just the ticket to get this train in gear.

Friday, Oct. 12th @ Barton Springs Stage 7:30pm:
So M83 is my one exception to the after 5pm rule, and if I do say so myself, they are more than deserving of such a distinction. This band, primarily the brainchild of French mastermind Anthony Gonzalez since 2005, has been around for over a decade, but its star has been on a meteoric rise since the release of latest album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and bust-out single “Midnight City” took to the airwaves. Still, I would argue that it was melodious tour de force Saturdays=Youth that marked the true turning point in M83’s lyrical approach and opened them up to a wider audience, particularly in the U.S. Having just seen this enigmatic collective up close and personal at the House of Blues this past Tuesday, there’s no way I will ever miss them again given the chance. I figure that since they transported my mind to an unknown dimension of bliss last time, seeing them again might just be the key to getting it to come back. And the 7:30pm kick-off will definitely help out the lighting accessories, which are, needless to say, out of this world.

Saturday, Oct. 13th @ Austin Ventures Stage 3:15pm:
Trust me, you want to see this band, and here’s why – from none other than the maestro himself, our humble editor, John Stephens.
“So what can you expect from the live show? I can only tell you from my own experience, and although it was only a single show at One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans, it’s a show that I hardly go a day without thinking about. It’s as though I’m trapped inside of that venue, which is certainly something to celebrate, like some joyous and spine-grasping moebius trip. As a humble onlooker, it’s clear the band has a stellar tightness that triumphantly generates a show with actual meaning, an artistic portrayal of time and effort and the process of poetics. Riddled with desire, humor, mischief, sex and drugs, Tillman’s lyrics, surrounded by a euphoric array of instrumental cohesion, tend to spill like a curious river flooding into the ecstatic crowd, such as when he croons to the audience the guilty lyrics of ‘Now I’m Learning to Love the War,’ – “Let’s just call this what it is/ the jealous side of mankind’s death wish/ when it’s my time to go/ gonna leave behind things that won’t decompose.” To put it simply, Father John Misty provides creative substance and a hella fun party, and their act at ACL is sure to bring just that. And not only is the spacey, alt-country rock-and-roll a divine musical event, Tillman’s outer-world aficionado dance moves are pretty damn inspiring – at least, you’ll want to groove your own ass off, too.”

However, if by chance you find there is some insurmountable scheduling conflict and don’t make it, do not lose heart. Father John Misty will be appearing in all its rapturous glory at your very own One Eyed Jack’s next week, Wednesday Oct. 17th.

How’s that for good luck?

Saturday, Oct. 13th @ AMD Stage 4:00pm:
Metric is another band that has been around for a over a decade, but I can’t say that they’ve ever really popped up on my radar until I recently stumbled across 2009 album Fantasies, which really hit me over the back of the head with what I’ve been missing. Now, it really might be disturbing how many times I’ve listened to “Gold Guns Girls” in the past month; if you haven’t yet, check out the acoustic version up on SoundCloud. It certainly got under my skin. What’s more, their new album Synthetica was released earlier this summer and only served to stoke the fire. The hauntingly elegant vocals of singer Emily Haines are certainly at the peak of their powers. Finally, as if she needed any accompaniment, who could help but be excited by her duet with Lou Reed on song “Wanderlust”? So if you’re curious how I plan on approaching this late afternoon set, I’d like to kindly refer you to the opening verse of new Track No.1 “Artificial Nocturne”… I can’t promise anything, but I have this gut-feeling that Metric will be a particularly standout performance in an afternoon of standout bands.

Sunday, Oct. 14th @ Barton Springs Stage 11:30am:
Let me start out by saying that seeing Alt-J live on Sunday at 11:30am is my prime directive at ACL this year. However, I know this probably rings hollow with a lot of people since the show starts before noon on day 3 of what’s sure to be an intense battery-drain of a weekend. That being said, bear with me while I gush a little… Alt-J is a tidal wave of British alt indie mojo that recently released their debut album, An Awesome Wave, not a month ago in the States (though its been out since May in Europe). Their name is an indirect reference to the symbol Δ (delta) which can be generated by pressing the alt + J keys on Mac computers. I’m not sure of the band’s intent here, but when I see Δ, I think of it as the mathematical symbol for change. Anyway, unless I get hit by a curveball from outta nowhere, An Awesome Wave will be my favorite album of 2012, and it’s safe to say that I haven’t gotten in my car in the past month without cranking it up for one or two tracks minimum. The best song from the album has to be “Dissolve Me” in my book, but power track “Fitzpleasure” is sure to grab even the casual listener by the throat until it ends. Almost everyone I’ve shown the album to has found at least one song that makes their blood hot, and it’s usually different for each person. So it might be a long shot, but if you find you have the wherewithal to make it in the gates a little early, check these guys out. I swear, you’ll be ahead of the curve.

Sunday, Oct. 14th @ Bud Light Stage 4:15pm:
You might very well already know a lot about breakout North Irish band Two Door Cinema Club, especially if you’ve ever crossed paths with their enormously successful debut album Tourist History. Personally, it was one of my favorite albums of 2010 – that rare LP where it’s pointless to have a favorite song because it would just change after every go ‘round. They also just dropped their sophomore album, Beacon, a month ago, so a deep well just got that much deeper. Need proof; well, just check out new single “Sleep Alone”. However, what really has me sold on these guys is the spectacle I witnessed at their set this past summer at Bonnaroo, when they blew the canopy off This Tent and left me with stars in my eyes. (I was literally seeing stars after the show, quite possibly from getting kicked repeatedly in the head by a flash mob of fanatical crowd-surfers.) If you think studio efforts as strong as these couldn’t possibly get better, I urge you to go and check out TDCinemaClub for yourself because, as the bard says, seeing is believing.


October 11, 2012 |  by  |  Editor's Favorites, Festivals, Previews
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