I love music festivals. It’s an eye opening experience every time. You get the mix of trend setting teenagers, hardcore fans, art school kids, and old people that think they are still 18. Coming from a marketing background, I cherish every moment of getting to gauge the audience’s reaction to upcoming indie artists and top 40 all-stars alike. I then take it upon myself to forecast who is on their way up, who is reigning music royalty, and who is on their way out. Let’s put the puzzle together, shall we?
Note: To prevent myself from writing a novella I will only write two sentences for each act.
Dan Croll: The most humble performer ever. Him and his band were spot on and pitch perfect.
Haim: The three HAIM sisters have been a band for 6 years and just released their debut album. I would say it has been over-hyped, but their music and on stage charisma is too good.
Lissie: Her country/classic rock/Americana sound is unique. In a post Mumford And Sons music era Lissie will thrive.
MS MR: MS does the vocals and MR does the music. Their music is already extremely popular in certain scenes, but their electric grooviness is too good to stay underground.
Smallpools: Think early Passion Pit/RaRaRiot meets Jack’s Mannequin. This super pop electonica act is radio ready.
Honorable Mention: Kodaline, Paper DIamond, The Mowglis
Not New, Not Yet Royalty:
Toro y Moi: I’m a huge fan of these guys. They are incredible live performers with a fresh and funky sound.
Grouplove: Do you listen to the radio? These guys will be huge, if they aren’t already.
Local Natives: On stage the lead singer grasps 2 sticks in one hand like John Bonham, plays synth and electric pads with the other. Their sound is experimental in nature, but pop in appeal.
The Joy Formidable: Best live act of ACL! The bassist headbutted the drummers cymbals, while singing and playing the bass.
Walk the Moon: These guys broke into top 40 status over the summer for a reason. They are the perfect example of where I see music going over the next few years.
Honorable Mention: Divine Fits, Purty Ring, The Black Angels, and Portugal. The Man
Phoenix: They played their set through like it was being mixed by a DJ. It was beautiful and seamless.
Arctic Monkeys: I have NEVER seen so much swagger on stage. These guys just reinvented their sound and will only be getting bigger.
Queens of the Stone Age: Who ever thought desert rock would hit the mainstream? Josh Homme and his crew rock out like they are in the ’70s.
MUSE: Their stage generator went out twice, making them and the crowd VERY angry, yet they still managed to live up to their reputation as one of the best live shows. I have never seen that many lasers before.
Atoms for Peace: It’s Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich from Radiohead and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers… It’s like the 1995 Chicago Bulls. They were incredible.
Not So Much:
Depeche Mode: I LOVE Depeche Mode and the music they’ve been recently releasing. They helped create a genre, but aren’t entirely relevant any more.
The Cure: I’m not sold on their reunion tour consisting of only a few original members. It feels cheap to have one of the biggest bands of all time go on tour with no intent of EVER releasing new music.
Kings of Leon: This bunch of Grammy winners aren’t what they used to be. Both their live performance and their new album left me wanting.
Wilco: They are classic, but old.
Austin City Limits is the testing ground for both rock legends and up and coming indie artists alike. This year offered up some amazing performances and highlighted some AMAZING new artists. If you like any of the artists I mentioned on here, check out the themed playlist below and DEFINITELY keep an eye on my new album reviews for more new music goodness.
– Joseph Noga
Account Executive, Education | FirstCom Music