Saturday ACL Fest 2018 Picks

Handicapping ACL’s first Saturday plus a handful of locals

The Wombats

Alice Merton

12:45pm, American Express stage
Alice Merton bursts with a kinetic frenzy of sound and sentiment. The first single and title track to debut EP No Roots landed atop European charts in 2016, introducing the Canadian-born, Germany-based songwriter with jagged beats quaking behind a voice between Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor. New single "Why So Serious" likewise licks anthemic and cathartic. – Doug Freeman


1:30pm, Barton Springs stage
Self-proclaimed "urban-jazz," Diana Debrito makes that description sound almost contrived. Influenced by her Angolan background, the Manchester singer meshes trap and R&B over honeyed vocals balanced between rap and spoken word. She's able to soothe ("Azul") and club hop ("Ooo"). – Isabella Castro-Cota

Ikebe Shakedown

1:45pm, Tito's stage
Fans of Budos Band and Austin's Hard Proof will dig this horn-laden instrumental septet from NYC that heaps Seventies funk atop a bedrock of Nigerian-inspired Afrobeat. Ten years and three LPs deep, a band that poached its name from a rare Nigerian boogie single balances fiery funk burners with spacey atmospheric jams on last year's The Way Home. – Thomas Fawcett

The Wombats

2:15pm, American Express stage
2006-07: The Wombats emerge from Britain's post-Libertines guitar pop boom with scrappy, infectious singles "Moving to New York" and "Let's Dance to Joy Division," bursts of clanging guitars, bashy drums, and cheeky humor. 2018: The Wombats are Coldplay Jr., purveyors of earnest-yet-downbeat widescreen rock found on new single "Bee-Sting." – Tim Stegall

Mon Laferte

2:30pm, Honda stage
Norma Monserrat Bustamante Laferte is Mon Laferte, a 35-year-old Chilean bellowing torch songs in the styles of bolero, tango, cumbia, and ska. Mexico City-built from a thrash metal background and other early shades of alternative rock and punk, Laferte's current element is Latin folk. "Amárrame," featuring Juanes from this year's La Trenza, is cumbia for lovers. – Christina Garcia


3:30pm, Miller Lite stage
Christopher Smith Jr. switches between soft-spoken R&B and flirty raps on his 2017 debut blkswn. Whistles, hums, and spoken word cradle themes of love, loss, and fame. Then his sharp and feathered flow fires them back up again. Features by theMIND ("Edgar Allen Poe'd Up"), Ravyn Lenae ("Glass Flows"), and Jay2 ("Blkoscars") break the routine by amplifying the St. Louis, Mo., rapper's gravelly bravado. – Isabella Castro-Cota


5:15pm, HomeAway stage
Become a part of a Snapchat filter, and you'll likely become famous. Just ask Andrew Bazzi. After twinkling single "Mine" went viral, the Michigan R&B crooner's April debut Cosmic peaked on the Billboard Hot 100. For the 21-year-old, sex and lust remains his songwriting cynosure, but his voice soars over pop on electro ballad "Honest," trap bed-burner "Changed," and synth delicate "BRB." – Alejandra Ramirez

Sharon Van Etten

5:30pm, Barton Springs stage; weekend one only
Maintaining a relatively low musical profile since 2014's stunning fourth LP Are We There, Sharon Van Etten returned to school to train in mental health counseling. The studies aren't far from her music, emotionally wrought examinations broiling behind her steady, crescendoing vocals – powerful and vulnerable in the same breath. An imminent new LP promises to trade guitar for darker, synth- and beat-inspired tunes. – Doug Freeman


6:30pm, American Express stage; weekend one only
The early-Nineties nü metal explosion gave us Deftones, who quickly outstripped its contemporaries on albums like White Pony with an experimental outlook shared more by Tool than Korn. The Sacramento quintet's most recent LP remains 2016's Gore, though recording has commenced on album No. 9. – Michael Toland


6:30pm, Honda stage
By this point, Glasgow trio Chvrches are almost old guard in the electronic pop scene. They helped usher in the wave on their 2013 debut, led by the pint-sized, energetic Lauren Mayberry. In May, they dropped third album Love Is Dead and hit the road with a now-perfected blend of ominous and unabashedly joyous cuts. – Abby Johnston

St. Vincent

7:30pm, Miller Lite stage
Dallas siren Annie Clark shifts her stage presentation with every album. Choreographed dance moves, immobile and unflinching stares, full band or solo, whatever setup she trots out for ACL will star face-melting guitar and feature a set highlighting the gossamer pop of 2017's Masseduction, her fifth LP. – Abby Johnston


7pm, HomeAway stage; weekend one only
Nelly may not carry the clout of recent ACL hip-hop legacy acts Ice Cube (2017) or LL Cool J (2016), but the St. Louis rapper boasts megahits that will be sung by tens of thousands. Debut Country Grammar conquered airwaves at the turn of the century with a distinct singsong delivery and catchy choruses that will double as festival directives. "Light it up and take a puff, pass it to me now." Way ahead of you. – Thomas Fawcett


7:30pm, Barton Springs stage
Half of tenacious rap group Calle 13 ("Atrevete-te-te"), Puerto Rican singer René Juan Pérez Joglar branched out on his own last year with a multifaceted, politically charged, and hauntingly beautiful self-titled debut. "Guerra" relays peace through a war title, "Milo" drips tangible love for his son, and "Desencuentro" features French singer Soko maneuvering the timeliness of romance. – Isabella Castro-Cota


8:30pm, Honda stage
Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay burst through electro banality behind bouncy hit single "D.A.N.C.E.," a critically acclaimed 2007 full-length debut, and a Grammy Award-winning remix of MGMT's "Electric Feel." The French duo then became a top dance/festival act. 2011's Audio, Video, Disco features a chill approach, but 2016's bright and joyous Woman picks up the energy. – Kahron Spearman

Saturday Local Limits

Jackie Venson (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Molly Burch
(noon, Barton Springs stage; weekend one only) Romantic pop phenom with smartly written songs, shimmering guitar, and a voice that's bold yet reserved.

Jackie Venson
(12:45pm, Tito's stage; weekend one only) Flammable guitarist whose songcraft ranges from indie blues to breezy soul-rock and innovative pop.

Kupira Marimba
(2:30, Austin Kiddie Limits stage; weekend one only) The vibraphone's wooden cousin gets beaten down by this fun-loving, mallet-wielding ensemble.

Sweet Spirit
(3:30pm, BMI stage; weekend one only) Pelvic-thrusting heavy pop with candied melodies for damaged lovers.

(4:30pm, Austin Kiddie Limits stage) Positive messenger who raps and sings while strumming an acoustic guitar. – Kevin Curtin

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ACL Music Fest 2018, ACL Fest 2018

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