UPDATE: Our full ACL 2017 review can be seen here!
As everyone knows by now, Austin City Limits has released their 2017 lineup with five headliners! Jay-Z, RHCP, Gorillaz, The Killers and Chance will headline ACL 2017, which is inarguably one of the best group of headliners for any US festivals this year. Now that the lineup has been out for the day and I have had some time to reflect and explore ACL 2017 bands a bit, let's review the Austin City Limits 2017 lineup and mention who I'm most looking forward to.
I've been waiting for this Austin City Limits lineup since October, when I bought presale blind. I feel anytime you purchase passes before the lineup drops it makes you anticipate the lineup even more. I got up at 4:00 a.m. local time to make sure I saw the lineup as soon as it came out, and while I was a little disappointed this morning I have really come around to the Austin City Limits lineup. I am going to break down the ACL 2017 lineup by category: headliners, subheadliners (rows 2-4), and undercard (row 5+).
That top line of Austin City Limits just stares at you like a lazy eye....but in a good way. It's somewhat stunning to see five legitimate headliners at the top of the bill for Austin City, making you wonder how much C3 spent on this lineup. Even if you don't like one or two of the headliners, each spans a different genre so that there is surely something for everyone. Obviously the big surprise was the late add of Jay-Z, which I don't think anyone saw coming. Yes it was a marketing gimmick, but it was damn cool when Austin City Limits sent out a notification on the app hinting that they would be adding H.O.V.A. When it actually happened the Internet was exploding about the announcement and it really did seem like the ACL 2017 lineup was complete - it just didn't seem done with RHCP in the #1 spot. As I mentioned earlier, it's hard to think of another US music festival that can compare to Austin City Limits headliners. Of course now we are going to be forced to make some hard decisions: please don't give me Jay-Z vs. The Killers ACL, just don't.
Fairly underwhelming here. I feel like if you are an EDM fan you are particularly disappointed there's no Odesza, Marshmello or someone to go with Martix Garrix. ACL definitely spurned EDM this year. Even as someone who generally doesn't like EDM, I don't find ACL's top rows after the headliners all that enticing. It would of been great to see Austin City Limits snag some rarer not-quite-headliner acts like Queens of the Stone Age, The National, or The Shins. Most of these acts are festival staples (The Head and the Heart, Glass Animals) or have played Austin City Limits quite recently (Ryan Adams, Foster The People). That said, I haven't seen Foster or Ryan Adams so I am excited for them personally, but I can see where the common criticism of booking those acts again is coming from. All this said, ACL 2017 is far from a disaster on these lines, there's definitely some good stuff. Spoon is coming off of a great new album, Vance Joy is going to be a star, Solange is still rising extremely quick and Run The Jewels are always a good time. There's definitely enough here to fill your evenings at Austin City Limits.
I think a lot of people are probably going to dislike the undercard at Austin City Limits 2017, but I assure you once you start doing your research on ACL 2017 you are going to find a lot of great acts. I personally have seen a few of them recently at Coachella and there is good stuff here. Obviously the lower end of the ACL poster is filled with local and really obscure bands, but part of the fun of ACL is checking out these inevitably early shows. If you are feeling disappointed by Austin City's undercard and lack of familiar names I would say give it some time, there are some hidden gems in there. Speaking of hidden gems....
Let's go over some of those hidden gems on Austin City Limits 2017 lineup. My absolute favorite part about attending fesitvals is going early and checking out the shows with small crowds but big talent. Here are some of my favorite acts at Austin City Limits 2017 from the tiny fonts.
The Lemon Twigs
The Lemon Twigs were one of my favorite shows I saw at Coachella, of all bands not just the early shows. They sound absolutely phenomenal and they have such great showmanship and energy. I was blown away but how good they were for an act that was billed to play in the early afternoon. If you like their funky, Beatlesish sound don't miss them at Austin City Limits.
Car Seat Headrest
I've mentioned several times on this website how much I like Car Seat Headrest so I was quite pleased to see them at Austin City Limits. Teens of Denial, their last full length album, was my favorite release of 2016. While I think they could do a better setlist they are still fantastic and I will be seeing them again at Austin City Limits. If you want good ole' fashion rock checkt hem out at ACL.
I remember the first time I was listening to Thundercat I started his album Drunk and after two songs was thinking "What the fuck is this, it is awesome!". The man has great musical talent and mixes in so many different genres and sounds that you can't help but like him. I really dig his sound and it stands out from the crowd.
I saw asomeone on Reddit mention (so it must be true) that Austin City Limits will be VULFPECK's first show in Austin, which seems hard to believe. Just start the video above and tell me you aren't tapping your feet without a few minutes. these guys do a great blues/R&B/rock blend that just seems like a great fucking time live. They have a unique sound and seem so musically talented they will be a hard act to miss at ACL.
All I will say is we saw Whitney at Coachella on a 103 degree day at 3 p.m. at the Outdoor Stage with no cover or shade - and it was awesome. They sound fantastic live and they just have a perfect arsenal of songs for a festival - nearly all their songs are upbeat and catchy making for a really fun set at Austin City Limits.
Original I was only going to post five bands to check out at Austin City Limits, but I couldn't leave Hamilton Leithauser off my list. That voice! Just listen to the song above and tell me you don't want to see this live - seems like a perfect Austin City Limits show. This is one of my cannot miss underrcard acts of 2017.
The key point I see no one making who's bitching about the ACL lineup compared to Coachella, Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo is the cost. I bought ACL on presale and it was $240, and if you get it now it's $255 with the fees included. All those other festivals are substantially more expensive than Austin City Limits. I judge festivals by the simple question of "Can I get my money's worth?", and with the headliners alone at ACL the answer is yes. Give the undercard some time and research if you are feeling down about it and I assure you that you will find some great stuff there. I for one am really excited for Austin City Limits 2017 this year and do not regret buying presale one bit. See everyone in Austin for Weekend One!