Friday ACL Fest 2018 Picks
Handicapping ACL's first Friday plus a handful of locals
Topaz Jones11:15am, HomeAway stage; weekend one only
"If you don't jump, how you gonna get down?" asks Topaz Jones on bouncy single "Powerball." The charismatic, Jersey-bred twentysomething murders microphones with a breezy, singsong flow that's forward-thinking, while still paying homage to touchstones ranging from Warren G and Outkast to Ohio Players and his dad's boogie-funk outfit Slave. "Funk and the rock, I'm a genre confused/ Shit, if the shoe fits, don't mind if I do." – Thomas Fawcett
RF Shannon11:15am, BMI stage; weekend one only
Zooming in on the expansive shoegaze compositions of debut Jaguar Palace, Grapeland-raised country deconstructionist Shane Renfro crafted frisky, unmistakably Western takes on May album Trickster Blues. In 30 hypnotic minutes, captured in Lockhart, the Texan sums up an isolating Lone Star landscape in dusty hues of psych, blues, and Seventies soul. The Austin bandleader has since relocated to L.A. with partner/rising songwriter Jess Williamson. – Rachel Rascoe
Cuco12:45pm, HomeAway stage
Out of Southern California, Omar Banos' wistful croons wander between Spanish and English with the grace of a runaway balloon. The Beach Boys' heart-stealing spirit lives on in dream-pop ballads "Lover Is a Day" and "Lo Que Siento." Splashes of analog-washed 808s and gliding synths conjure a trance like a longboard ride. Fangirls and indieheads alike will crowd this 20-year-old phenom's matinee set. – Jeremy Steinberger
Lewis Capaldi12:45pm, Miller Lite stage
Lewis Capaldi sings like life depended on it, gulping for air like he's struggling up from the bottom of the river. Collaborating with Grammy-winning Frank Ocean producer Malay on last year's debut EP Bloom, the 21-year-old songwriter racked up UK accolades and earned notice as the Scottish Ed Sheeran behind powerful but textured bursts of emotional urgency. – Doug Freeman
Alvvays2:45pm, Miller Lite stage
On their eponymous, Polyvinyl-backed debut, this Toronto dream-pop troupe offered the irresistible proposal of "Archie, Marry Me." Other synth-shined gems embedded into the acclaimed bow, elevating songwriter Molly Rankin's crystalline, Sixties-sweetened vocal lead. 2017 follow-up Antisocialites packed a sharp, witty punch from standout opener "In Undertow" to dusky final "Forget About Life," putting Alvvays in the running for Canada's Polaris Prize. – Rachel Rascoe
Børns3:45pm, Honda stage
Garrett Borns boasts the pretty falsetto and indietronica sound of Tame Impala and Glass Animals, if slightly less funk and freak. 2015 debut Dopamine dripped psychedelic pop and synth-rock excursions from the Michigan-born singer, 26, while this year's Blue Madonna tidied up the rock edges but continued his danceable downer disco trajectory with depressed doyenne wannabe Lana Del Rey. – Christina Garcia
Greta Van Fleet4:45pm, Miller Lite stage; weekend one only
Named after an 87-year-old grandmother from their Michigan hometown, Greta Van Fleet reanimates the bygone era of gritty dinosaur rock by channeling Led Zeppelin. Josh, Jake, and Sam Kiszka, along with friend Danny Wagner, have toured with fellow resurrection act Dorothy following 2017 debut From the Fires. Sophomore LP Anthem of the Peaceful Army follows this month. – Christina Garcia
The National5:45pm, American Express stage
Leaving their day jobs behind, the National's third album and first collection for the famed Beggars Banquet label, 2005's Alligator, put them on most critical shortlists. 2007's Boxer and 2010's High Violet moved the Cincinnati-raised quintet near the top of rock music's shrinking and capriciously selected heap. The band won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album for 2017's Sleep Well Beast. – Kahron Spearman
Khalid5:45pm, Honda stage
No word on a follow-up to 2017's American Teen, but Khalid Robinson has collaborated enough in 2018 to sate fans, who are clamoring for more from the onetime El Pasoan. His voice, which has hooked up with Halsey, Ty Dolla $ign, and Martin Garrix in the last year, remains as infectious as his breezy pop-writing sensibility. – Abby Johnston
Odesza7:45pm, Honda stage
Odesza's chirpy, summertime vocal samples and sugar-rush electronic pop productions glide like fireflies from the consoles of Harrison Mills (Catacombkid) and Clayton Knight (BeachesBeaches). With the chill of Tycho and low BPM dance tempo of Bonobo, the Seattle duo performs from a stage of kaleidoscopic panoramas and live drums, all for visual effect. Three albums in, Odesza is peak festival. – Christina Garcia
Friday Local Limits
Asleep at the Wheel
(Noon, Honda stage) Ray Benson's idiosyncratic Western swing stampede serves as ACL's eternal opening ceremony.
Barton Hills Choir
(12:30pm, Austin Kiddie Limits stage) A chorus of elementary schoolers known to sing songs by Flaming Lips, Grateful Dead, Wilco, and the Beatles.
Golden Dawn Arkestra
(3:45pm, Tito's stage) Afrobeat aliens on a mission to save our Earthship with positive vibrations of psych, funk, and jazz.
School of Rock
(Fri., 2:30pm; Sun., 12:30pm, Austin Kiddie Limits stage) Showcasing the next crop of Austin musicians – before they become jaded and delusional.
Wesley Bray & the Disciples of Joy
(Fri., 11:15am, Tito's stage) Contemporary R&B devotionals bring Stubb's Gospel Brunch to Zilker. – Kevin Curtin