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.
12:15 p.m. Jai Malano (Tito’s): Just back from an overseas trip with Project ATX6, blues/soul/R&B singer Malano has a show-stopping voice and a strong stage presence.
1 p.m. Wild Child (HomeAway): The gradual rise of this folk-pop ensemble from local club darlings to national touring sensation has been one of the coolest success stories in Austin music of the past few years.
2 p.m. Basia Bulat (BMI) vs. Kacey Musgraves (Samsung): Curse the ACL schedule makers for a Friday afternoon that’s largely bereft of quality options and a Sunday afternoon that forces frustrating choices. No way we’ll miss Canadian indie songstress Bulat, our star of this year’s SXSW, but it’s a drag to miss Musgraves, especially since both are weekend-one-only artists.
3 p.m. Pete Yorn (Miller Lite) vs. Margo Price (HomeAway): Another tough call in this time slot. We’ll go with the long-established and engaging songwriter Yorn over current country sensation Price only because we’re set to catch her “ACL” TV taping on Monday, but otherwise the choice might well be different.
4 p.m. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (Samsung): Sure, that “S.O.B.” song they rode to a breakthrough last year made for entertaining short soundbites, but there’s a lot more depth to this soulful roots-rock outfit from Denver.
5 p.m. St. Paul & the Broken Bones (HomeAway): Paul Janeway and his Alabama backing crew took some chances on their new album, exploring darker themes even as their live show relies on bright, punchy horns and fiery vocals.
6 p.m. Chris Stapleton (Samsung): Along with fellow ACL Fest acts Margo Price and Kacey Musgraves, as well as game-changers Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson, superb singer Stapleton his helping to bring country music back from the bro-pocalypse.
8 p.m. Mumford & Sons (Samsung): The least exciting of the three main headliners is still at heart a pretty good band, even if last year’s “Wilder Mind” album underperformed in comparison to the British folk-rockers’ multiplatinum debut and Grammy-winning follow-up.
DEBORAH SENGUPTA STITH
12:15 p.m. Lizzo (Honda): With comic sass and real soul, the Minneapolis rapper/singer is this year’s undercard sleeper hit.
1 p.m. Wild Belle (Cirrus Logic): What a less tormented Lana del Rey who was into reggae would sound like.
2 p.m. Chronixx and the Zincfence Redemption. (Honda): The Jamaican upstart who blazed up the fire with Major Lazer and went into the “Belly of the Beast” with Joey BadA$$ is a fine reggae artist in his own right.
3:30 p.m. Break Science (Tito’s): Trip hop and breakbeat fusion with a deep-rooted NYC sensibility.
6 p.m. Miike Snow. (Honda): The Swedish electro pop specialists make buoyant jams that scream last gasp of summer. Soak it all in.
7 p.m. Haim (HomeAway): Three years after the Haim sisters’ triumphant ACL Fest debut, timed to the release of their first album, we’re still waiting on a follow up. But they canceled a European tour this summer to focus on recording, so expect the set to be peppered with plenty of new material.
8 p.m. LCD Soundsystem (Honda): OK “Drunk Girls” (and boys), this is your moment. Go ahead and “Dance Yrself Clean.”
12:15 Lizzo (Honda): An act who’s been criminally relegated to an early time slot, the Minneapolis emcee/singer/MTV host is both a legend in waiting and a force of nature who’s not waiting for anyone to catch up.
1 p.m. Domo Genesis (Miller Lite): Stand back and bob your dome with this member of the Odd Future collective. “Dapper” is a jam.
2 p.m. Kacey Musgraves (Samsung) vs. Basia Bulat (BMI): A good argument to cut yourself in half, Solomon-style. Canadian folk wailer turned retro-pop assassin Bulat had a dazzling, scorching SXSW that made our staff fall in love, but progressive charmer Musgraves has done more to rejuvenate country music than anyone not named Sturgill. Flip a coin?
3 p.m. Margo Price (HomeAway): Speaking of country firebrands, this Nashville traditionalist signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records is your annual ACL Fest comfort food.
5 p.m. Bob Moses (Cirrus Logic): Two guys, not one. Soak up an ambient chillwave vibe-out as you replenish your energy.
6 p.m. Miike Snow (Honda): Swedes know their way around a hook, and we join our heroes as they take their good-natured, cybernetic indie grooves to adventurous places on this year’s “iii.” Limb-shaking Zilkerites imminent.
7 p.m. Haim (HomeAway): Loved the debut album, tolerated their weaksauce 2013 ACL Fest debut. But I loved “Days Are Gone” more, so I’m expecting the best, as should we all.
8 p.m. LCD Soundsystem (Honda): If I remember my Sunday school correctly, it’s a sin to pick Mumford & Sons over a James Murphy master class in rug-cutting, house-party euphoria. It says a lot about a person if they’d rather camp out for warmed-over banjo tantrums and pale Kings of Leon drag than gasp thirstily at the ever-endangered chance to wail “That’s how it starts” under Austin’s night sky.