The Austin City Limits Music Festival schedule is a thing of beauty. But also: That’s a lot of bands. Our music critics pored over the 2016 lineup and handpicked their dream schedule for each day of the fest’s first weekend.
Noon. Israel Nash (Miller Lite): Since moving to Dripping Springs from the East Coast five years ago, Nash has released two albums that have put him at the fore of psych-folk both locally and nationally.
12:45 p.m. Matt the Electrician (Tito’s): An Austin mainstay for two decades, the Electrician ironically plays acoustically, winning over crowds with quirky yet tuneful songwriting and understated personal charm.
2:30 p.m. City and Colour (Samsung): Since leaving Canadian hard-rockers Alexisonfire to travel more nuanced, acoustic-based avenues as City and Colour, Dallas Green has become one of his home country’s top indie artists, winning three Juno awards.
3:30 p.m. Andra Day (Miller Lite): The rare occasion of an artist making her ACL Fest debut after already having taped the “ACL” TV show (this past June), Day commands the stage with a singular voice and style drawing from R&B, soul, pop, jazz and more.
4:30 p.m. Aubrie Sellers (BMI): If she still has a ways to go to emerge from the shadow of her mother Lee Ann Womack’s considerable country music accomplishments, the twentysomething Sellers shows promise on her solo debut “New City Blues,” released earlier this year.
7:30 p.m. Andrew Bird (Miller Lite): The rise of violinist and songwriter Bird from Chicago roots-scene mainstay to big-time indie stardom was as unlikely as it was welcome. Recent releases have acknowledged both his humble beginnings and his higher ambitions, following an album of songs by underground alt-country band the Handsome Family by collaborating with pop star Fiona Apple.
8:30 p.m. Kendrick Lamar (Samsung): With the possible exception of the Broadway smash “Hamilton,” nothing from the hip-hop realm has had a broader impact on American culture this decade than the music Lamar has made.
DEBORAH SENGUPTA STITH
Noon Jazz Cartier (Cirrus Logic): The sharp-dressed young baller from Toronto is positioning himself as Drake-town’s next big thing.
12:45 Honne (Samsung): Like their mystical alt-soul compatriot James Blake, the Brit duo makes lushly soundscaped earnest-voiced songs of love and longing born from many drizzly days spent dreaming of warmth.
1:30 Gallant (Homeaway): For fans of steamy, heart-on-sleeve falsetto soul, watching the rapidly rising crooner smolder-sing “Weight In Gold” is as good as 2016 gets.
2:45: Luisa Maita (Tito’s): Escape the afternoon sun with a samba interlude in the tent.
3:30 p.m. Andra Day (Miller Lite): The last time Andra Day sang her soaring ode to resilience, “Rise Up,” in Austin, it was a tearjerker performance at an “ACL” taping, dedicated to the dozens of club-goers who were gunned down in an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando less than 24 hours earlier. Even in that dark hour, she was able to sing into our hearts the hope that love would prevail eventually.
5:30 p.m. AlunaGeorge (HomeAway): Laying sultry vocals over bubbling electro pop beats, this Brit duo comes correct with the slick supper time grooves.
6:30 p.m. Bomba Estereo (Tito’s): Swag has always been a calling card for the Bogota-based electro cumbia groove machine, but they upped the ante with “Soy Yo,” a bombastic ode to individuality we can all get with.
8:30 p.m. Kendrick Lamar (Samsung): The one and only can’t-miss set of the weekend from the most important artist in America right now.
12:45 Honne (Samsung): The kind of slick computerized ice music that makes trying on jeans at H&M feel high fashion.
1:30 Gallant (Home Away): One of the most exciting R&B singers bubbling up. He’s a Sufjan Stevens collaborator of sorts, and he cherry-picks some of the best tendencies of ’90s smoothsters. Almost every song on this year’s “Ology” crescendos to streetlight grandeur.
2:30 Lucy Dacus (BMI): This Richmond, Va., artist is my “how is that voice happening in my ears right now” pick of the fest. Musically somewhere in the Waxahatchee/Angel Olsen commonwealth, Dacus has a tone that sounds like a warm blowdryer feels on your face on a cold morning. “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” is the place to start.
3:30 Andra Day (Miller Lite): Oh, you’re gonna cry ugly like a Kim Kardashian meme, and you’re gonna like it. The spirit’s gonna move you with soulful sweetness.
4:30 LL Cool J feat. DJ Z-Trip (Samsung): You are not better than this.
5:30 The Naked and Famous (Cirrus Logic) vs. AlunaGeorge (HomeAway): One might slay dragons with some Kiwis who make big-hearted, crystalline alt-rock with their shoulders firmly thrown back to feel the breeze. One might also bop with a Brit duo that knows how to dish out attitude, body rolls and contagious rhythm. Your call.
6:30 Cage the Elephant (Honda): If you only know the faux-Beck “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked,” study up on these Kentucky boys’ more recent psych-folk offerings. For an early evening wind-down, songs like “Trouble” feel quintessentially ACL.
7:30 Two Door Cinema Club (Cirrus Logic): Part “Saturday Night Fever,” part Saturday night pleasure.
8:30 Kendrick Lamar (Samsung): He’s the king.