Preview by Mark Wheeler

LMB’s ACL 2012 Playlist on Rdio

The older one gets, the more shows one attends in proper venues, it gets easy to snob on festivals – no disrespect to the kiddies in their neon war paint and NBA jerseys. Festivals seem to recycle the same reshuffled (yes, The will be at ACL) with regional gimmicks and superstar headliners as differentiators; Coachella has the beautiful ‘scenery,’ and are good-vibe open- drug markets, is on a beach. The Zilker Park-hosted Austin City Limits, geared more towards cool dads than its kewl-kid counterpart , is no different.

But with maturity it also becomes painfully obvious that life is what you make of it. Cynicism in the name of realism is not only a drag, but it can be a major hindrance to reaching anything worthwhile. And in a half-empty/half-full world, Austin, Texas is abjectly a Cup-Runneth-Over kind of town.

So if you are making your way to ATX this weekend to catch f***ing & , The Stooges, , the cot-dang , RHCP or anything else—good on you. Here are a handful of acts that you may want to check out while you are there.

The Features

While Natural Child, , PUJOL and a slew of other young bucks have morphed Nashville into an international destination for garage rock, The Features have quietly been the city’s best non-country act since the Silver Jews hung it up. They play smart, slick rock ‘n’ roll that ranges in content from humanity’s shifting ideals to the career struggles of today’s youth. Due to the anthematic nature of songs like “Temporary Blues,” I often lazily call the Sparta, TN transplants the Arcade Fire of the South. But The Features own their space far too much for forced comparison. Catch them early Sunday and definitely cop their 2008 release Some Kind of Salvation and 2011’s Wilderness if you enjoy it.

The Features - GMF

Alabama Shakes

Alabama Shakes @ , , LA – 1/19/12 || Photo by Jimmy Grotting

Alabama Shakes were unquestionably 2012’s early heroes (based off of the deep-fried feelings evoked from Boys & Girls) – the blogosphere simply would not shut up about The Shakes this spring. The fury in ’s voice will often hit you in the gut like the first drop on a roller coaster— or the first departure of true love. She’ll be spitting that raw, over-stripped down, bloozy, Southern rock for the entirety of the North Alabamians’ set. The Shakes are on Friday night. No bulls*** will be permitted: just unadulterated, wound-opening truths about life and love.

Big K.R.I.T

@ & Art Project, , LA – 3/18/12 || Photo by Jimmy Grotting

rap is a gamble. The are expensive and 90% of rappers’ (including legends of the game) reliance on backing tracks borders on lip-syncing. Having seen K.R.I.T. a few times, he does not fit that category. His beats are laden with blues, and country , and the Meridian, MS native actually has a story to tell. His show provides ample energy; the hunger created by years of negligence in the face of pore-popping sweat will be felt.

After being a mixtape WORKHORSE since 2005 (The Last King, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, Return of 4Eva and more are readily available for free download), K.R.I.T.’s first studio release dropped this summer, Live From the Underground. From Playa Fly to David Banner, the ‘Sipp has long struggled for it’s own run and K.R.I.T’s current one a time machine to a better era of rap. of genuine , Southern struggle or the long-earned payoff of a diligent grind are welcome Saturday afternoon.

The Civil Wars

It will be interesting to see how The Civil Wars sound in a festival setting. The Nashville-based (via Alabama and Cali) GRAMMY winners have a presence that is bigger than any stage. Yet they describe their as “an intimate conversation” with “no third wheels or dinner-party chatter to interrupt that gorgeous, haunting hush.” Fight to get up close and hear the duo that is making waves in folk/country/ circles: Sunday afternoon.

Gary Clark

Gary Clark @ New Orleans – 9/11/11 || Photo by Jimmy Grotting

needs a little Austin in it — queue Gary Clark Jr. Propelled straight out of Austin’s oldest venue, Antone’s, Clark offers revival rock that channels a world with more feeling. Silky vocals on top of blues-ridden fuzzy guitar licks have led to a number of accolades for Clark. Check him out Sunday afternoon and believe the hype.

Gary Clark Jr. - Don't Owe You A Thang [Official Music Video]


Playing early Saturday is another Austin band of note in Quiet Company. Following front man Taylor ’s lead, QC plays energetic, piano-based indie rock. The band’s demeanor matches their cheery sound and keeps the crowd involved. Stay posted for the guitarist to bust out a melodica at some point.

Quiet Company - Fashionable - Fashionabel

Notable Others

, , , Tennis


PHOTOS: Zilker Park From Above – ACL 2011 (via LMBNOLA)
2011 Austin City Limits Festival Wrap (via LMBNOLA)

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