Overall Schedule Impression: Fridays always seem to start slow at ACL, but this year’s first day tries to make an exception, and as a result, the line-up is pretty strong for a festival day one. Some big names include Weezer, Florence+The Machine, M83, and Tegan and Sara (who just dropped a much anticipated album not too long ago.) ACL always has their two biggest stages (AMD and Bud Light) compete against each other for the biggest acts of the day, so you’ll have to choose between Weezer and Florence+The Machine, as well as AVCII and The Black Keys.
Under the Radar Band You Have To See: He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister
He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister is a great choice if you arrive early on Friday. Not only is the band folksy pop sound (unsurprisingly, they have shared the stage with Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Neko Case, The Knitters, The Growlers, and Alexander & Friends) is a great to kick off a musical weekend. Combining some crazy tap dancing moves to go along with their percussion sound, and you can expect a unique Friday experience.
Headliner Amps: The Black Keys have had the biggest last two years any band could possibly have. With a triple Grammy-winner in 2010’s Brothers, and seemingly every commercial since December 2011 featuring a song from their newest album, El Comino, you have heard these guys, trust us. Regardless, the Keys are a crazy band to see live, and their brand of hard blue rock is a treat to see at the end of the day. This is a headliner to not miss if you have never seen the band live.
Overall Day Grade: B
Saturday: Day Two
Overall Schedule Impression: Saturday is where things get heavy. The number of worthwhile acts to view is simply astounding. You get Rufus Wainwright, Big K.R.I.T., Metric, The Shins, The Roots (with QuestLove at the helm), Gotye (featuring that song that Austin never stops playing “Somebody That I Use to Know”; unknown is whether Kimbra will join in; she plays on Sunday), and a battle royale of two headliners: Neil Young and Jack White. Heck, Big K.R.I.T plays at 3:00. He could be a headliner at smaller festivals on his own. Whew. It should be good.
The Cavemen are a really spacey band from the NYC, and with them you get a diverse mix of the new age and the traditional. The group features four par harmonies with traditional guitar sounds, but they add in plenty of synth and some truly unique percussion for a great fusion. They have played with such luminaries as Blue Oyster Cult and The White Rabbits. The Cavemen are a great view early in the morning on Saturday.
Headliner Amps: If you are a battle of the bands kind of fan, you got to love this dichotomy of dueling headliners on Saturday night. On one side you have what some people would call the “youngest legend” in rock, Jack White, someone he has shot to the top of musical lovers hearts over the last decade, and he is not even forty yet. On the other side you have a true living legend in the incomparable Neil Young. Who do you chose? Who should you see? In Playmaker’s humble opinion, you can’t go wrong with either one, but for history’s sake, Neil Young may not be touring much longer, while Jack White has years ahead of him. This may point to a generational divide in each crowd, but that is always bound to happen once at every ACL.
Overall Day Grade: B+
Sunday: Day Three
Overall Schedule Impression: Have you made it to Day Three? Had enough water with your partying? We sure hope so, because ACL Day Three looks to be a great closer to the last one-weekend edition of ACL (ACL 2013 has already been confirmed to be stretched over two weekends, more on that after the Fest). On Sunday you have Kimbra, The Boxer Rebellion, The Civil Wars, Crystal Castles, The Childish Gambino, The Avett Borthers, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Kimbra has gotten a big lift from the aforementioned Gotye, and The Childish Gambino should bring the house down. The Civil Wars though, benefiting from a large stage to showcase their restrained but amazing sounds, might be the best bet of the day.
Under the Radar Band You Have To See: Royal Teeth
Southern Louisiana has had a rough go the last few years, but a still great region produces great bands. Royal Teeth is a bit outfit (six members). They have entered the nation’s consciousness (and the international one as well) with their leadoff track “Wild” which has been featured in everything from a Buick commercial to the mega-successful EA FIFA 13. This audience friendly sound straddles the barrier between a crazy wave sound and new-era style dance pop. Royal Teeth looks to be a crowd pleaser on early Sunday morning.
Headliner Amps: The Red Hot Chili Pepper need no introduction to anyone (hopefully), but for a band that really has been producing A-game material for over twenty-five years now, are you really going to miss them perform? Heck, even their recent stuff has filled stadiums over the past three years, and as the closing band of ACL, there should be no doubt where everyone is going to be at the end of Sunday.
Overall Day Grade: B+