Saturday ACL Fest Picks

First week, second day handicapping

Nothing but Thieves

12:45pm, Honda stage
Five Brits making alternative rock court dark undercurrents and quaking, heavy guitar licks built up from a strong foundation of pop. Just a self-titled under their belt, NBT are big overseas and still green. An acoustic set at Waterloo Records earlier this year gave vocalist Conor Mason the space for his towering vocals, a voice freakishly similar to Jeff Buckley's when allowed to soar.
Libby Webster

The Gills

12:45pm, BMI stage; Weekend One only
Raucous rock & roll act out of Nashville (following a genesis in Orlando) dedicates itself to both the hellraising spirit of punk outfits like the Replacements and Nirvana as well as to leader Jesse Wheeler's precise, melodic songcraft. Following a yearlong, three-single run commencing with the near-lysergic "Rubberband" and capping with the catchy "Lemonade," this hard-touring, loud guitar band just dropped a fine self-titled LP.
Tim Stegall

Lewis Del Mar

1:30pm, Cirrus Logic stage; Weekend One only
Lewis Del Mar became an overnight success after the release of its viral debut single "Loud(y)" last year. An amalgam of folk guitar noodling, low-end bass media samples, and nods to Latin percussion, the Brooklyn duo channeled the eclectic beats of J Dilla, innocuous Jack Johnson acoustics, raw blues of the Black Keys, and polished gloss of James Blake on its January EP.
Alejandra Ramirez


1:45pm, Tito's Handmade Vodka stage; Weekend One only
Throwback rappers are a dime a dozen but that's not Kamaiyah's mission. On the Oakland rapper's debut mixtape, this year's A Good Night in the Ghetto, she sports Family Matters sweatshirts and brick cell phones, alluding to the Nineties as a wistful memory. Hood escapism runs rampant as raucous house party jams ("Out the Bottle") and wobbly anthems ("How Does It Feel") get juxtaposed with her insouciant and breezy delivery.
Alejandra Ramirez

Andra Day

3:30pm, Miller Lite stage
Andra Day launched her career on YouTube through R&B covers of Eminem and Muse. On last year's Warner Bros. debut, Cheers to the Fall, the San Diego singer attempts a similar but more polished sound as her cloudy optimism comes into full focus. "Gold" channels midnight blues, "City Burns" has her head spinning in anguish, and "Cheers to the Fall" toasts heartache with watercolor jazz phrasing.
Alejandra Ramirez

LL Cool J

4:30pm, Samsung stage
Women throw panties (and ChapStick) at Ladies Love Cool James. Debuting before rap's golden era 1985's acclaimed Radio, the 48-year-old MC broke through with three consecutive charting albums: the booming Bigger and Deffer (BAD), softer Walking With a Panther, and rejuvenating Mama Said Knock You Out. 1995's rap ballad classic Mr. Smith cemented the Hollis, Queens, rapper's place in history and laid the foundation for Drake.
Kahron Spearman


5:30pm, HomeAway stage; Weekend One only
Sultry vocalist Aluna Francis and producer George Reid have bubbled to a boil since their mainstream launch through Disclosure's smash hit "White Noise." Hot off singles "I Remember," "My Blood," and summer scorcher "Mean What I Mean," the UK future-pop electro duo are prepping for full-scale stardom with their second full-length, I Remember.
Kahron Spearman

The Naked & Famous

5:30pm, Cirrus Logic stage
Shimmering, cracked indie-tronica, 2010's Passive Me, Aggressive You proved prominent for brightly lit Forever 21 retailers. The New Zealanders create atmosphere, too – ebullient, overstimulation driven by youthful buoyancy and a lot o' synths. Three years after their last LP, a third disc, Simple Forms, drops Oct. 14.
Libby Webster

Cage the Elephant

6:30pm, Honda stage
Give Cage the Elephant another chance. Yes, the Kentucky quartet stands guilty of perpetrating a supremely annoying radio rock hit with 2008's "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" – a track loaded with lyrical cliches and tired, G. Love-style alterna-poet delivery. Yet, over four albums, Matthew Shultz and company have evolved into true craftsmen, with last year's Tell Me I'm Pretty spinning sharp, concise songwriting.
Kevin Curtin

Bomba Estéreo

6:30pm, Tito's Handmade Vodka stage
On every local festival lineup of the last five years, Bomba Estéreo still gets the call for an explosive mix of every Latin dance style under the sun, including the folkloric sounds of their native Colombia, via EDM, hip-hop, and dancehall. Producer/multi-instrumentalist Simón Mejía and singer Liliana Saumet tread familiar territory on major label debut Amanecer, which features slick club beats and chest-caving bass.
Thomas Fawcett

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More ACL Fest 2016
Playback: ACL Fest Part II
Playback: ACL Fest Part II
ACL Fest isn’t a pair of weekend-long sit-ins, it’s one two-week-long campaign

Kevin Curtin, Oct. 14, 2016

Weekend Two Friday ACL Fest Picks
Weekend Two Friday ACL Fest Picks
Where to be, by the hour

Oct. 7, 2016


ACL Fest 2016

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