Friday ACL Fest 2018 Picks

Handicapping ACL's first Friday plus a handful of locals


Topaz Jones

11:15am, 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 Shannon

11:15am, 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


12:45pm, 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 Capaldi

12:45pm, 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


2:45pm, 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


3:45pm, 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 Fleet

4:45pm, 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 National

5:45pm, 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


5:45pm, 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


7:45pm, 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

Golden Dawn Arkestra (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

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

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More ACL Music Fest 2018
Friday ACL Fest 2018 Picks
Friday ACL Fest 2018 Picks
TGIF picks for Zilker Park

Oct. 12, 2018

Playback: ACL Fest Spoilers
ACL Fest Spoilers
As ACL’s second weekend dawns, here are the most unforgettable moments from week one

Kevin Curtin, Oct. 12, 2018


ACL Music Fest 2018, ACL Fest 2018

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle