Austin City Limits 2010 Preview

<div> <a href="features/austin_city_limits_2010_preview/"><img src="" alt="Austin City Limits 2010 Preview" /></a> <br /> </div> <p> If the alternative music world has a home, it ain't today's Brooklyn - it's yesterday...
Austin City Limits 2010 Preview
Austin City Limits 2010 Preview

If the alternative music world has a home, it ain’t today’s Brooklyn – it’s yesterday & today & tomorrow’s Austin.  The site of the massive alternative music industry festival South-by-Southwest (QRO recap), the capital of Texas (and liberal oasis in the greatest red state), site of the University of Texas and home of the Longhorns (whose fans were putting their index & pinky fingers in the air long before rock fans, though maybe not outfielders) is also home to PBS’ Austin City Limits, the longest-running concert music program in history – and an alternative music oasis on the television dial.  And since 2002, Austin city limits & Austin City Limits have hosted the Austin City Limits Music Festival, spanning genres like the program but welcoming indie like the city.

One of the biggest & best music festivals of the season (as well as one of the latest – QRO Festival Guide), 2010 Austin City Limits Music Festival welcomes everyone & anyone with yet another killer line-up of artists, October 8th-10th:



FRIDAY, 10/8

Phish, 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM, Budweiser Stage

While The Grateful Dead reunited after the death of frontman Jerry Garcia as The Dead (QRO photos at a festival), the crown of number one jam band in the world has been passed to Vermont’s Phish, who reclaimed it after they reunited themselves last year, following a five-year hiatus.  That reunion included a new studio album, Joy, but the real discography is in their countless live recordings (something else they share with the original Dead).  The neo-hippie fanbase can turn the rest of the world off, but you don’t need to know all the details of Gamehendge, or be nicely toasted, to enjoy Phish (though it doesn’t hurt…).

The Strokes, 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM, AMD Stage

The Strokes are back!  The Strokes are back!  Back in 2001, Is This It and “Hard To Explain” basically launched the alternative music revival, starting in Lower East Side before going to Brooklyn, Canada, Sweden, and everywhere else (not to mention drummer Fabrizio Moretti dating Drew Barrymore).  However, follow-ups Room On Fire and First Impressions of Earth were way too similar to what the band had broken through with, while countless indie acts had taken advantage of the opening & the internet to make The Strokes feel like old hat, and fans say, “Is This It?”.  Various members did their own thing, such as solo records from guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. and singer Julian Casablancas, but didn’t light the world on fire (QRO review of Casablancas solo record), and Barrymore & Moretti broke up, leaving the band something of a forgotten caricature (or, as The Onion so excellently put it in a side headline, “Guy from The Strokes accused of looking like guy from The Strokes”).

But maybe that’s what the band needed – no follow-up or solo record could live up to Is This It, and now there’s been enough time that them getting back together could practically count as the first ‘twenty-first century reunion’ (on the lines of the popular eighties & nineties alt-reunions – we need a name for the last decade…).

The Strokes
Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses, 7:15 PM – 8:00 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

New Mexico native Ryan Bingham straddles the down-home and more contemporary sides of the roots rock revival, most recently with this year’s Junky Star, and returns to Austin City Limits with new backing band, The Dead Horses.

Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses
Sonic Youth, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Honda Stage

Is there a bigger band in punk rock (QRO photos outdoors)?  Is there a better band (QRO photos at a festival)?  There certainly isn’t a more important punk band playing today than Sonic Youth (QRO live review) – in fact, they might be the most important of any of the bands playing today (QRO live review).  For it-can’t-really-be-thirty years, married singer/guitarists Thurston Moore (QRO solo live review) & Kim Gordon (the best married couple in music, ever), axe-god Lee Renaldo, and never-forget-about Steve Shelly (it’s tough, being a drummer…) have been combining the best guitar rock since Jimmie Page (and without any of the axe-wankery) with the power of the spirit of ‘77.  From 1988’s now-in-the-Library of Congress Daydream Nation (QRO deluxe edition review) to being the Dirty wise men of grunge, through experimental outings, Jim O’Rourke picking up the bass Gordon put down in 2000, Mark Ibold (of the iconic, just-got-back-together Pavement – QRO greatest hits record review) picking up that bass & fully joining the band for last year’s The Eternal (QRO review), even playing Daydream in its entirety (QRO live review), Sonic Youth (QRO live review) are not only still here, they’re still the gold standard of punk rock – of rock (QRO photos outdoors).

Sonic Youth
Vampire Weekend, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

Overnight successes like The xx (see below) should take a lesson from Vampire Weekend (QRO photos at a festival).  The band went from opening for the likes of White Rabbits (QRO live review, when Vampire Weekend opened) and Tokyo Police Club (QRO live review, when Vampire Weekend opened) in 2007 to massive success after they opened the following year with their self-titled debut (and closed it playing ACL).

This, of course, earned them legions of haters, often focusing on their preppy look & history, though others just grew enraged at the music from “the whitest band” (according to stuffwhitepeoplelike blog) being called ‘afro-pop’, and the comparisons with Paul Simon’s iconic Graceland.  They wisely slipped from view for a while, but returned to Jeff Curtin’s (QRO interview) Tree Fort Studios, faced up to the haters & the sophomore jinx to put out Contra (QRO review) in January, and reached #1 in the charts (only the twelfth independently-released record to do so in the last twenty years).  And are playing major stages, coming back from their first trip Down Under (QRO live review in New Zealand).

Vampire Weekend
Sarah Harmer, 6:40 PM – 7:20 PM, BMI Stage

While an undeniable part of the genre, the saddest part of the independent music is when obscurity lingers far too long.  Such may be the case with Burlington, Ontario’s Sarah Harmer (QRO photos at a festival).  Despite frequent and notable appearances with names like Great Lake Swimmers (QRO album review), Neko Case (QRO album review), and The Weakerthans (QRO photos), as well as an unquestionable knack for modern folk styling have both failed to get Sarah Harmer half of the acknowledgement she deserves.  Now is your chance to see one of the most unappreciated gems in the Canadian music scene, who comes to Austin on the back her latest, Oh Little Fire (QRO review).

Sarah Harmer
Slightly Stoopid, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM, Budweiser StageComing out of the melting pot of mid-nineties SoCal, thanks to being discovered by Sublime’s late frontman Bradley Nowell (while the band was still in high school), Slightly Stoopid have lived out Nowell’s sun-baked combination of punk, reggae, rock, and hip-hop.  Their loyal fan base has let them stay outside the major label system, while still filling venues worldwide, and being very active on the festival circuit – returning for a third year, they do seem a little too Stoopid for a festival named after a show on PBS… Slightly Stoopid
Spoon, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM, AMD Stage

Local boys make good – very good.  Austin’s own Spoon (QRO live review outdoors) has been turning heads in the indie-sphere for a while with their trademark indie-rock, but with 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (QRO review) & this year’s Transference (QRO review), the group (QRO photos at a festival) has launched into the stratosphere, including headlining at New York’s own ultra-upscale Radio City Music Hall (QRO live review).  A veteran of local fests (QRO photos at a festival in Austin) and headlining fest (QRO photos headlining a festival), this is the fifth time Spoon (QRO photos) will play Austin City Limits – sixth if you count their appearance on the show, and they play it again ACL Festival weekend.  Three cheers for “The Underdog” (QRO video)!

Amos Lee, 6:00 PM – 6:45 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

Philly’s Amos Lee goes a jazz-fusion route, with soul, folk and blues thrown into the mix.  He’s opened for legendary singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard, Paul Simon, and Elvis Costello (QRO album review), and is returning to Austin City Limits after performing at the festival in 2007.

Amos Lee
Beach House, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Honda Stage

The guitar-and-keys pair of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally (QRO photos at a festival) may hail from Baltimore, but there’s a Francophile expanse to Beach House (QRO photos).  2008’s Devotion (QRO review) earned them many fans that felt that way, and this year’s Teen Dream (QRO review) is being shortlisted for ‘albums of the year’, and they’re working the festivals (QRO photos at a festival).  But will the sweet sounds work as well in the bright sunlight (QRO photos outdoors)?

Beach House
The Sword, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

Bringing the metal is Austin’s own The Sword (QRO live review).  The heavy metal band has previously opened for the likes of Metallica (QRO photos on tour with The Sword) and Motörhead (QRO photos), but can more than hold their own.  They’ve got a just put out Warp Riders, the follow-up to 2008’s Gods of Earth, so look out!

The Sword
The Band of Heathens, 4:45 PM – 5:30 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

Austenites Colin Brooks, Ed Jurdi & Gordy Quist originally just shared a stage to serve as each other’s backing band, but by 2008 they had one of the Top Ten most played Americana records on the radio, and played Austin City Limits Music Festival – followed by a taping on the TV show last year.

The Band of Heathens
The Black Keys, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM, AMD Stage

The blues-rock from guitar/drums duo of Dan Auerbach & Patrick Carney (QRO photos) sounds like it comes from the deepest (and blackest…) part of the South, but these two white men (QRO photos at a festival) hail from Akron, Ohio.  However, The Black Keys (QRO photos outdoors) are as gritty as anyone, whether on records like 2008’s Attack & Release (QRO review), or live (QRO photos at a festival), as depicted on the recent Live at Crystal Ballroom DVD (QRO review).  And their latest, Brothers (QRO review), channels all their inspirations into a great sound that’s even better at a festival (QRO photos at a festival), like at ACL ’08 & ‘05.

The Black Keys
Pat Green, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Budweiser Stage

Austin City Limits is stocked with Americana/country singer/songwriters, including Texas’ own Pat Green.

Pat Green
Angus & Julia Stone, 3:30 PM – 4:15 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

Australia’s been bringing a surprising number of up-and-coming artists, often coming to the wider world through the mother country, Great Britain.  One of those acts is the brother-sister indie-folk duo Angus & Julia Stone, from the northern beaches of Sydney down under.

Angus and Julia Stone
Girls, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

The band (QRO photos at a festival) with maybe the least creative titling ever (their debut is ‘Album’ – QRO review – at least there’s no actual females in the band…) got notice largely because singer/frontman Christopher Owens was raised in the actually scarily crazy Children of God cult.  But the neo-pop sounds of Girls (QRO photos) have kept on finding fans (QRO live review).

Miike Snow, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Honda Stage

Stockholm’s Miike Snow (a band, not a person – QRO photos at a festival) have been getting serious notice recently with their combination of indie-pop & electro-dance, especially live (QRO live review).

Miike Snow
Chief, 2:20 PM – 3:00 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

A more modern alt-country comes in the young Chief (QRO photos outdoors).

Blues Traveler, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, AMD Stage

Princeton, New Jersey knows how to bring the jam, from Phish (see above) frontman Trey Anastasio to all of the Blues-rock Blues Traveler, who hit it big back in 1994 for fourth album Four.  The drug overdose of bassist Bobby Sheehan & singer John Popper’s weight struggles caused struggles for the band, who were dropped from their major label at the start of this millennium/century, but that only opened the door for an independent road, including the festival circuit, now playing Austin City Limits for their third time.

Blues Traveler
The Mountain Goats, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Budweiser Stage

John Darnielle has been a prolific producer for near two decades now under The Mountain Goats (QRO photos) moniker, including 2008’s Heretic Pride (QRO review) and last year’s pseudo-biblically-inspired The Life of the World To Come (QRO review).  And he’s bringing his enjoyable solo live show (QRO live review) to Austin City Limits (QRO photos at a festival), with both new material like “Hebrew 11:40” (QRO video) and old such as “This Year” (QRO video).

The Mountain Goats
Those Darlins, 1:20 PM – 2:00 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

Tennessee Appalachian trio Those Darlins (QRO photos at a festival) have managed to get serious attention in the indiesphere, thanks to connections like producer Jeff Curtin (QRO interview – of Family Time, and also producer of Vampire Weekend – see above), or ukulele-ist Nikki Darlin being engaged to Deer Tick singer/guitarist John McCauley (he even popped the question while Darlin was guest-spotting on stage with Deer Tick – QRO photos).  But the lovely ladies’ backwoods sound can more than hold its own, especially in middle of America.

Those Darlins
The Soft Pack, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

When they first came out, the only thing that differentiated this San Diego garage-rock band from the million-and-one other young garage-rock bands out there was their didn’t-mean-to-mean-anything name, The Muslims.  A change of name to The Soft Pack (QRO photos at a festival in Austin) for not only the band but also their debut full-length (QRO review) helped them stand out for their sound.

The Soft Pack




Muse, 8:30 PM – 10:00 PM, Budweiser Stage

A mid-level act at ACL ’06, Devon’s Muse (QRO photos at a festival in Austin) were bumped up to headliner at ACL ’07 when The White Stripes (QRO live review) cancelled at the last minute, and are now returning to ACL as full-fledged mega-stars.  The trio reached for true stadium glory with The Resistance (QRO review), as their electric bombast, which had already conquered Europe, set its sights on the States, touring with U2 (QRO album review) & playing Saturday Night Live (QRO Indie on Late Night TV), and are now comfortable as massive headliner of their own (QRO photos headlining Madison Square Garden).

M.I.A., 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM, AMD Stage

Hip-hop has a host of controversial personalities, and when those artists cross into other genres, they often bring the controversy with them.  Kanye West is the clearest example, whether taking the mic from Taylor Swift at the mainstream VMA last year to his criticized headlining performance at last year’s indie-jam festival Bonnaroo.  K. West has been on much better behavior this year – taking the controversial mic this year has been M.I.A. (full name: Mathangi ‘Maya’ Arulpragasam – QRO photos), from her ultra-pregnant appearance on The Grammys last year to maybe endorsing the terrorist Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka to feud with The New York Times after a less-than-flattering feature piece/interview.  She did come out with ///Y/, her follow-up to 2007 smash-hit Arular, and it has proved as divisive as Maya herself (that’s how the title is pronounced).  Her HARD LA show was cancelled, and her HARD NYC one (QRO recap) plagued with technical difficulties, but she did live up to her promise to give New York a free show, only days before (QRO concert listing), at the small Brooklyn Bowl (QRO venue review).  So who knows what M.I.A.- ///Y/-Maya (QRO photos outdoors at a festival) appears at Austin City Limits.

deadmau5, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

Coming off appearing at the medal ceremonies for his country’s Winter Olympics, Niagara Falls’ deadmau5 is still most recognizable for his trademark headgear & light show (QRO photos at a festival).  While his remix of Morgan Page’s “The Longest Road”, featuring Lissie (see below), lost out in the Grammy for ‘Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical’ to David Guetta (QRO album review), the progressive house artist (don’t dare call him a ‘DJ’…) has blown up.

Matt & Kim, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM, Honda Stage

Serious, long-time ‘Friends of the Q’ (QRO spotlight on), it’s been great watching Matt & Kim (QRO photos) blow up so seriously – without losing their infectious cheer (QRO photos).  Singer/keyboardist Matt Johnson (QRO interview) and drummer Kim Schifino (QRO interview) bring a self-described “onstage pizza party” with their sugar-filled hyper-pop/rock on stage (QRO live review).  Known for spreading their giant, ever-present grins to every crowd they play for (QRO live review), large, outdoor stages (QRO live review outdoors) don’t faze them, and neither do massive festivals (QRO photos at a festival), nor even foreign crowds (QRO live review overseas).  They also stepped up their musical game on last year’s Grand (QRO review), with the new Sidewalks out in November.  So expect them to rock the crowd (QRO photos), from old tracks like “Silver Tiles” (QRO video) and “Yea Yeah” (QRO video) to Grand ones like “Good Old-Fashioned Nightmare” (QRO video) and “Daylight” (QRO video) – as the kids go nuts (QRO photos at a festival), and so do Matt & Kim (QRO live review).

Matt & Kim
Ozomatli, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Clear 4G Stage

The indie & the country have wiped out Austin’s Latin flavor, and Ozomatli (QRO photos) bring that and more from Los Angeles as they mix rock, hip-hop, salsa, jazz, funk, reggae, & more – it’s been described by the group as taking in everything one hears on a trip down all of famed Sunset Boulevard, most recently on this year’s Fire Away (QRO review).

David Bazan, 6:40 PM – 7:20 PM, BMI Stage

Formerly the main man behind Pedro the Lion, David Bazan (QRO photos at a festival) went solo in 2006, but is currently touring with a full band for the first time since going solo.

David Bazan
Gogol Bordello, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM, AMD Stage

From Eastern Europe & elsewhere, through the Lower East Side comes ‘gypsy punks’ Gogol Bordello.  The many, many-person outfit is fronted by singer/guitarist Eugene Hutz (also of the film version of Everything Is Illuminated), but there’s so much going on on-stage, you won’t know where to look (QRO photos outdoors).  The band followed up debut Underdog World Strike with the not-quite-as-impressive Super Taranta! (QRO review) in 2007, and if this year’s Trans-Continental Hustle (QRO review) is even less so, the band still brings it live (QRO live review).

Gogol Bordello
LCD Soundsystem, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM, Budweiser Stage

There was a time when ‘dance-rock’ was synonymous with LCD Soundsystem (QRO live review).  Singer/frontman Daniel Murphy was the first to play Daft Punk to the rock kids (immortalized in both “Losing My Edge” and “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” – QRO video), but after 2007’s Sound of Silver (QRO review), he took time off from LCD and touring (QRO live review in 2007), which included playing ACL ’07, to focus on his label DFA, which has become as influential – if not more so.  But LCD is back (QRO live review of return show) with This Is Happening (QRO review) and songs such as “Drunk Girls” and “I Can Change” (QRO video).  Murphy has said this will be it for LCD, but he keeps adding dates (QRO photos at a festival)…

LCD Soundsystem
The Monsters of Folk, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

Like a modern-day Traveling Wilburys, The Monsters of Folk are some of the biggest names in today’s alt-folk scene, including Conor Oberst (QRO live review), M. Ward (QRO album review), Jim James (of My Morning Jacket – QRO live review) and Mike Mogis (of Oberst’s Bright Eyes – QRO album review).  The combined for the acclaimed & successful debut The Monsters of Folk (QRO review), and are a perfect fit for Austin City Limits (indeed, Oberst & Ward played ACL ’08 with their own bands).

The Monsters of Folk
The Temper Trap, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM, Honda Stage

Austin City Limits draws from the other side of the Pacific in Melbourne’s The Temper Trap (QRO photos), who have broken out in both nations (QRO live review) thanks to last year’s Conditions (QRO review).  They’ve already seriously moved up in terms of venue size for their regular shows (QRO live review), so catch ‘em at Austin City Limits (QRO photos at a festival).

The Temper Trap
The xx, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

Almost overnight, south London’s The xx (QRO photos) went from little known to massive acclaim.  Even before debut record xx (QRO review) actually came out, the dark, post-punk revival act was garnering lots of attention (QRO photos at a festival).  They quickly jumped from opening (QRO live review) to headlining, as they were overshadowing the headliners.  They also saw Baria Qureshi depart (QRO photos with her), leaving them a three piece (QRO photos at a festival).  Certainly subdued, they are much better suited for nighttime (QRO photos at a festival) than at chattering rock clubs (QRO video), but have found a way to make it work outdoors (QRO live review outdoors) and at festivals (QRO photos at a festival) – and just won Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize!

The xx
Local Natives, 4:45 PM – 5:30 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

Silver Lake’s Local Natives (QRO photos at a festival) have been riding the alt-country/folk wave, but seem to be doing it better than most, charting in February with debut Gorilla Manor, moving up to headliner tours (QRO live review), and well-received on the festival circuit (QRO photos at a festival).

Local Natives
Silversun Pickups, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM, Budweiser Stage

In 2006, Los Angeles’ Echo Lake music scene blew up in a big way – all thanks to Silversun Pickups (QRO photos) & Carnavas.  Last year, they finally followed that up with Swoon (QRO review), which charted even higher – but the Pickups will still be playing your Carnavas favorites at ACL (QRO photos outdoors).

Silversun Pickups
Dan Black, BMI Stage, 4:40 PM – 5:20 PM, BMI Stage

U.K. mash-up artist Dan Black (QRO interview) first got attention with “HYPNTZ”, his combination of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize” and Rihanna’s “Umbrella”, but he’s made his own name (QRO photos at a festival) with his own mash-up of electronic styles (QRO photos) with debut Un (QRO review).

Dan Black
Broken Bells, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM, AMD Stage

In the middle of the last decade, two of the biggest breakout artists were The Shins (QRO live review), thanks to being featured on the Garden State soundtrack, and Danger Mouse, thanks being part of Gnarls Barkley & multiple producer/contributor credits (The Rapture, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Beck).  The Shins followed up with Wincing the Night Away (QRO review), Gnarls Barkley with The Odd Couple, but then silence – until this year, when main Shin James Mercer teamed up with Danger Mouse as Broken Bells.  Unfortunately, their self-titled debut (QRO review) was rather underwhelming, albeit from high expectations, and their live show was too dark – literally not enough lighting (QRO photos at a festival in Austin).  But hopefully the latter, at least, can be fixed by playing during the day, under the Texas sun.

Broken Bells
Black Lips, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

A band better known for their live show than their records, that’s not just because of the relatively unimpressive recorded material like this year’s 200 Million Thousand (QRO review), but also due to their crazy mishmash of genres and styles on stage (QRO live review).  Atlanta’s The Black Lips’ wild live show includes everything from nudity to fireworks – and live animals (QRO photos at a festival).   Texas should hopefully let the boys let ‘er rip (QRO photos outdoors), but be rest assured their rabidly loyal fan base will still be crying out for more (QRO photos outdoors at a festival).

The Black Lips
Manchester Orchestra, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM, Honda Stage

From Atlanta, not New or Old England, Manchester Orchestra (QRO live review) were more rock than alt- on debut I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child (QRO review), and moved firmly into the rock camp with this year’s Mean Everything To Nothing (QRO review).  However, the outfit does it well (QRO live review), like at ACL ’07.

Manchester Orchestra
Mayer Hawthorne & The County, 3:30 PM – 4:15 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

Actual name Andrew Cohen, he adopted his middle name & name of the street he grew up on (isn’t that how you get your porn name?…) for last year’s A Strange Arrangement, and comes to ACL with ‘The County’ – a.k.a. whoever’s in his backing band at the moment (QRO photos at a festival).

Mayer Hawthorne & The County
The Gaslight Anthem, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM, Budweiser Stage

The newest band on today’s workingman’s punk wave, New Brunswick, New Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem (QRO photos) borrow from classic punk and more recent predecessors like Flogging Molly (QRO photos) & hometown heroes Bouncing Souls (QRO photos) – but also from the Garden State’s ultimate shining musical light (no, not Sinatra – not even Bon Jovi…), Bruce Springsteen (QRO live review).  Once described as the product of some alternate history of rock, where The Boss embraced his early love of The Clash, Gaslight Anthem have gone even more Boss-like on their latest, American Slang (QRO review), which has catapulted them up the charts and into festivals (QRO photos at a festival).

The Gaslight Anthem
Lucero, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM, AMD Stage

These cowpunkers (QRO photos) arrive at today’s workingman’s punk from the southern, country/punk end of things.  Singer/guitarist Ben Nichols did his own thing with a solo record and ‘Revival Tour’ (QRO photos at a festival in Austin) with Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music – QRO photos) and Tim Barry (Avail), but the band has since gone big-time, including a four-album major label deal with 1372 Overtone Park (QRO review), as well as starring in MTV’s quasi-fictional $5 Cover.  But live & outdoors (QRO photos outdoors in Austin), they stay true to their roots.

[note: who decided it would be a good idea to have Lucero & The Gaslight Anthem play at the same time?  The two acts have more fans in common than possibly any other at ACL…]

Two Door Cinema Club, 2:30 PM – 3:00 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

Hailing from Northern Ireland, but debuting on French label Kitsuné, Two Door Cinema Club have made a splash in America, as well (on Glassnote – same label as France’s Phoenix – QRO live review – and Australia’s Temper Trap – see above), with breakthrough debut Tourist History just out in a deluxe edition for all you late-comers to the Club.

Two Door Cinema Club
Bear In Heaven, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

Brooklyn band Bear In Heaven (QRO photos) first got notice in 2007 with Red Bloom of the Boom (QRO review), and kept it going with last year’s Beast Rest Forth Mouth (QRO review), which has garnered massive praise as the band has moved up the rungs of the tour (QRO live review outdoors) and festival hierarchy (QRO photos at a festival), as well as being a road warrior (QRO live review), even overseas (QRO photos at a German festival).

Bear In Heaven
Pete Yorn, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM, Honda Stage

Pete Yorn debuted in a big way in 2001 with musicforthemorningafter, and has kept charting ever since, most recently with this year’s self-titled semi-reboot.  He’s also worked with everyone from Peter Buck (of a little band called R.E.M. – QRO album review) to actress/‘musician’ Scarlett Johansson.

Pete Yorn
Ninjasonik, 1:20 PM – 2:00 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

“We are Ninjasonik!  We are sonic fucking ninjas!”  So goes the anthem of Brooklyn’s hip-hop duo, Ninjasonik (QRO photos).  But don’t be thinking they won’t have a place at ACL, as their crowds go just as wild (QRO photos).  In fact, they’re something of every indie-hipster’s favorite rap act, playing at numerous alt-rock festivals (QRO photos at a festival) as well as afro-punk (QRO photos at a festival).

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM, AMD Stage

While many jam bands on the festival circuit seem to have been playing forever, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (QRO photos outdoors) only recently formed & broke out, thanks to 2007’s This Is Somewhere, and opening for the likes of Gov’t Mule & Black Crowes (QRO photos).  The funky blues-soul act (QRO photos at a festival) earned major praise for this year’s self-titled release (QRO review), and have been getting bigger & bigger (QRO photos at a festival).

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
Basia Bulat, 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

Canadian songstress Basia Bulat (QRO photos) brings her autoharp & Heart of My Own (QRO review) to Austin City Limits (QRO photos outdoors).

Basia Bulat
The Very Best, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM, Budweiser Stage

Hip-hop impresarios Radioclit’s Etienne Tron and Johan Karlberg are pushing the boundaries, thanks to their team-up with Malawian songsmith Esau Mwamwaya as ‘The Very Best’.  The trio is rewriting western pop rules (and not in English) with both original material and numerous remixes.

The Very Best
First Aid Kit, 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM, Honda Stage

Sweden’s woods-y sister act First Aid Kit (QRO photos at a festival in Austin) play not only Austin City Limits Festival, but also the official ACL pre-party on October 7th.

First Aid Kit
Lissie, 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

Things are on the up swing for Rock Island, Illinois’ alt-country songstress Lissie.  She’s gone from an interesting EP last year, Why You Runnin? (QRO album review), to being a favorite to open & contribute, though this summer’s debut full-length, Catching a Tiger (QRO review), was some Runnin’ to the mainstream.


SUNDAY, 10/9

The Eagles, 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM, Budweiser Stage

Eagles are the biggest band to ever play Austin City Limits Music Festival.  Over forty years since they started, and over fifteen since they reunited (and about a decade since charter Eagle Don Felder was kicked out & sued the rest of the band, prompting a countersuit of Felder’s tell-all book), Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) is still tied with Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the best-selling album in the United States, with “Hotel California” one of the best-known rock songs in the world.  In 2007 The Eagles put out Long Road Out of Eden, their first new studio album in almost three decades, and have kept the Long Road tour going since then.

With no other acts scheduled on any of the other stages, The Eagles have the final two hours of Austin City Limits all to themselves.  Of course, that means the crowd is going to be bigger than at any other point in the festival – giving everyone who isn’t into classic rock a chance to get a jump on the traffic in getting out of Zilker Park.

The Eagles
Cage the Elephant, 7:15 PM – 8:00 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

With hardly a full-length album to their name, Kentucky’s Cage The Elephant were snatched up by EMI Records at a low-key SXSW showcase.  Following some impressive U.K. airplay, the band packed up and moved to London, where they released their first studio album in 2008.  The following two years have been a haze of international touring, late night TV shows, and preparation for the bands much anticipated next album.  As their blues-y rock infused live show will prove, elephants were never meant to be caged.

Cage the Elephant
Norah Jones, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

Singer/songwriter Norah Jones (QRO live review) broke through in a huge way in 2002 with debut Come Away With Me, selling over 20 million copies and earning five Grammys (including Record of the Year and Best New Artist) – there was no way her subsequent work could match in terms of success.  However, unlike the Lauryn Hills of the world, Jones (QRO photos outdoors) has not disappeared or faded away, but stayed in the eye & ear, most recently with last year’s The Fall (QRO review).

Norah Jones
The National, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Honda Stage

Cincinnati-by-way-of-Brooklyn’s The National (QRO photos outdoors) hit it big in 2007 with Boxer (QRO review) and tracks like “Fake Empire”, “Mistaken For Strangers”, and “Apartment Story” (QRO video) – and again in 2008 with The Virginia EP (QRO review), but that just presaged this year’s High Violet (QRO review), which debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts.  An impressive and much-in-demand act (QRO live review), they’re fitting in nicely as a festival headliner (QRO photos headlining a festival).  Blown up to the point that New York Times Magazine ran a feature on them, Obama used “Mr. November” (QRO video) as a campaign song, The National (QRO photos at a festival) are taking the summer by storm (QRO photos headlining a festival), including the festival circuit (QRO photos at a festival).

The National
Richard Thompson, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Clear 4G Stage

One of the most acclaimed singer/songwriters in rock history, Great Britain’s Richard Thompson has been covered & name-checked by the great likes of R.E.M. (QRO album review), Elvis Costello (QRO album review), and Bob Mould (QRO live review), and plays Austin City Limits after curating this year’s Meltdown Festival in London (QRO U.K. Festival Guide).

Richard Thompson
Band of Horses, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM, Budweiser Stage

Before the current, unceasing wave of alt-country, there was Seattle’s Band of Horses (QRO live review), who broke through with debut Everything All the Time and “Funeral” in 2006.  While guitarist/co-founder Matt Brooke left after that, singer/guitarist Ben Bridwell kept on the trail, with the following year’s Cease to Begin (QRO review).  Band of Horses (QRO photos at a festival) dropped a little off the radar following that, but came back this year with Infinite Arms (QRO review), a more polished record in ways good & bad, and are riding from festival to festival (QRO photos at a festival).

Band of Horses
The Flaming Lips, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM, AMD Stage

Hitting up the few festivals they didn’t hit last year, there’s a good reason The Flaming Lips (QRO photos at a festival) are so popular on the circuit, as there is no live show out there like a Flaming Lips show (QRO live review).  Confetti cannons, costumes, video screens, balloons from the sky, puppets, singer/guitarist Wayne Coyne surfing the crowd in a giant plastic bubble – The Lips have it all (QRO photos), and expect them to take it even higher (QRO photos at a festival).  Oh, and they’ve got some great music, too, from early nineties hit “She Don’t Use Jelly” to 2006’s Grammy Award-winning At War With the Mystics (even put out a movie, Christmas On MarsQRO review), with their latest, Embryonic (QRO review), out last year.

Flaming Lips
Switchfoot, 6:00 PM – 6:45 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

After early success in the Christian Rock arena, San Diego’s Switchfoot entered the mainstream with 2003 major label debut The Beautiful Letdown.  But if you go to Austin City Limits Music Festival and see a band that crosses Christian Rock & mainstream, you may just have to hand in your indie cred…

Martin Sexton, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM, Clear 4G Stage

The Boston Americana-folk singer/songwriter had garnered himself a slot on Atlantic in the late nineties, but after two albums left to form his own label, Kitchen Table Records, on which he’s kept going, most recently with 2010’s Sugarcoating, and returns to ACL for his third year at the festival.

Martin Sexton
Rebelution, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Honda Stage

Bringing some reggae to Austin City Limits is Santa Barbara’s Rebelution, who’ve been all over the festival circuit.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

Alex Ebert, former singer of Ima Robot (QRO interview), got a ton of buzz right after forming Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (QRO live review)– is it justified, or just PR hype?  Judge for yourself – but watch out for him jumping into the crowd (QRO photos at a festival)!

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Midlake, 4:45 PM – 5:30 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

Denton, Texas’ Midlake (QRO photos outdoors) have swerved around a bit in the indie-rock realm, most recently into the sweet-sounding Americana with the new The Courage of Others (QRO review), but have stayed true to Texas – this is their third year at ACL.

The Henry Clay People, 4:40 PM – 5:20 PM, BMI Stage

Los Angeles’ relaxed rocking Henry Clay People (QRO photos outdoors) return to Austin City Limits for the second year in a row.

The Henry Clay People
Robert Earl Keen, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Budweiser Stage

Austin City Limits doesn’t just feature young Americana/country singer/songwriters, but also veterans like Texan Robert Earl Keen.

Robert Keen
Yeasayer, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM, AMD Stage

The experimental Yeasayer (QRO live review outdoors) combine electronica, rock, and even tribal sounds, making them sound like the music of the cyberpunk future, multi-cultural in ways you’d never foresee (QRO live review).  They’ve been steadily building since 2007’s All Our Cymbals (QRO review) and the futuristic “2080” (QRO video) & “Wait For the Summer” (QRO video), and managed to beat the sophomore curse with this year’s impressive Odd Blood (QRO review) and songs “Ambling Alp” (QRO video) & “O.N.E.” (QRO video).  They’ve also got a fascinating stage presence (QRO photos outdoors), especially at festivals (QRO photos at a festival in Austin) – even overseas (QRO live review in the U.K.) & in foreign-speaking lands (QRO photos at a German festival).

The Constellations, 3:30 PM – 4:15 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

The ‘Dirty South’ gets dirtier with Atlanta’s hip-hop/rock outfit The Constellations, whose debut full-length, Southern Gothic, drops in June.

The Constellations
GAYNGS, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

The upper Midwest’s odd, near-super-group GAYNGS includes modern troubadour Justin Vernon, a.k.a. Bon Iver (QRO album review), rapper P.O.S., Ivan Howard of The Rosebuds (QRO spotlight on), members of freak-folk outfit Megafaun (QRO photos outdoors) & of the dancetronic Solid Gold and more, who came together for the old-is-new Relayted (QRO review) this year, and now are taking it out on the road.

The Morning Benders, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Honda Stage

From over in Berkeley comes The Morning Benders (QRO photos at a festival), and while they draw from the sixties, it’s not the Deadhead hippie jams but sunnier strums, inflected with the right amount of indie (QRO live review) in early songs like “Dammit Anna” (QRO video) & “Boarded Doors” (QRO video).  This year’s Big Echo (QRO review) was something of a disappointment musically, but has certainly seen the band (QRO photos at a festival) get more successful, to the point of headlining bigger stages (QRO photos, headlining outdoors) and playing to bigger crowds (QRO photos at a festival).

The Morning Benders
Dawes, 2:20 PM – 3:00 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

Austin City Limits features many up-and-coming Americana indie outfits, Dawes (QRO photos at a festival), whose heart & soul hail from Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon (QRO photos outdoors).

Devendra Banhart & The Grogs, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, AMD Stage

Alt-folk singer/songwriter Devendra Banhart (QRO photos) has just been getting bigger & bigger, from dating Natalie Portman in 2008 to signing to major label WB/Reprise last year & putting out What Will Be Will Be (QRO review) – so who knows what’s in store for 2010…

Devendra Banhart & The Grogs
Portugal. The Man, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Budweiser Stage

This West Coast draws from far up its shore with Alaska’s Portugal. The Man (QRO photos at a festival).  The rambling grunge outfit (QRO photos at a festival) garnered new fans with 2007 sophomore release Church Mouth (QRO review), and its unhinged alt-rock, though slipped somewhat with last year’s The Satanic Satanist, but have got a new one, American Ghetto – even while finally playing Europe (QRO photos at a European festival).

Portugal. The Man
Frank Turner, 1:20 PM – 2:00 PM, Austin Ventures Stage

While Frank Turner (QRO photos) began his life in music as singer for the post-hardcore act Million Dead, since that band’s break-up in 2005, the Bahrain-born, Britain-raised artists has turned to political indie-folk.  He’s not a stranger to big stages, however, having opened up for Green Day (QRO album review) at stadium shows in the U.K. in June.

Frank Turner
Blind Pilot, 1:15 PM – 2:00 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

Eco-friendly Portland has given the eco-friendly indie-folk of Blind Pilot (QRO photos), who did a whole tour in 2008 on bicycle.

Blind Pilot
Foals, 1:15 PM – 2:00 PM, Honda Stage

Oxford, England’s Foals (QRO photos) still haven’t quite shaken off the backhanded compliment label of ‘internet buzz band’, even with this year’s well-received sophomore release Total Life Forever (QRO review), but you should really see & judge for yourself.

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, 12:30 PM – 1:15 PM, Budweiser Stage

Slowly but surely, Theodore Francis Leo (QRO photos outdoors) is getting the respect he is due.  A force in the indie-punk scene for twenty years now, he’s never quite gotten the attention to match his influence, which is huge (QRO photos at a festival).  But Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (QRO photos outdoors) – which also includes James Canty of the iconic Nation of Ulysses & follow-up The Make-Up – has been finding a whole new generation of fans these last few years (QRO photos outdoors).  Unfortunately, while slotted at the biggest stage, Ted Leo (QRO photos at a festival, opening for a band who’d once opened for him) is stuck in the earliest slot…

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
White Rabbits, 12:30 PM – 1:15 PM, AMD Stage

Another long-time QRO favorite (QRO spotlight on), White Rabbits (QRO interview) brought a dance hall saloon hootenanny with their debut Fort Nightly (QRO review) and songs such as “The Plot” (QRO video) & “Kid On My Shoulders” (QRO video).  They took the party on the road, opening for the likes of Spoon (see above), and their Britt Daniel-produced follow-up last year, It’s Frightening (QRO review), saw them impressively rise to a whole new level of skill on pieces like “Percussion Gun” (QRO video) & “The Company I Keep” (QRO video).  Though playing very early in the day (QRO photos outdoors), White Rabbits (QRO interview) can deliver at any time, day or night (QRO live review).

White Rabbits
Shearwater, 11:45 AM – 12:30 PM, Honda Stage

Jonathan Meiburg & Will Sheff (QRO photos) started Shearwater in Austin at the start of this century/millennium along with Okkervil River (QRO live review), Sheff left the Water to focus on the River, and Meiburg left the River to focus on the Water, with 2008’s Rook (QRO review) and this year’s The Golden Archipelago (QRO photos at a festival in Austin).

Warpaint, 11:45 AM – 12:30 PM, ZYNC Card Stage

The experimental, even psychedelic rock of the four ladies that make up Warpaint (QRO photos) has taken a while to take hold, but is really starting to by now, and they come to Austin City Limits while on tour with The xx (see above – QRO photos on tour with The xx).


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