ACL Face-off 2017: Who to smash or pass at this year’s festival

Chris Duncan

This year’s Austin City Limits Festival lineup poses some difficult debates for its attendees, but fret not. The Daily Texan did the heavy work, researching bands’ live acts and discography to settle the most contentious face-offs at this year’s event.

Weekend 1, Friday: Asleep at the Wheel vs. Carson McHone vs. Methyl Ethel

Although many festivalgoers won’t be at Zilker Park when these bands perform, this may be the hardest decision for some to make all weekend. Asleep at the Wheel and Carson McHone both hail from Austin and write and perform country music, demanding attention with their respective sounds. Methyl Ethel is the complete opposite, based in Australia while focusing on eclectic art rock. The victor of this three-way is Carson McHone, edging out Methyl Ethel because of her hometown roots and fantastic live vocal performances.

Weekend 1, Saturday: Angel Olsen vs. The Black Angels vs. Russ

With each artist bringing their own distinct sound to the table, this face-off will likely come down to personal music preferences. Known for quality and emotional studio recordings, Olsen’s sound doesn’t translate as well as others’ to live performances. A chance to see Russ is a chance to to see an up-and-comer in hip hop, but The Black Angels take this one with their record of exciting live shows and welcoming music.

Weekend 1, Sunday: The Killers vs Gorillaz

This is a matchup born in hell. These two bands have similar audiences and are known for their mid-2000’s output that embodies that era of rock music. Although Gorillaz might be the more creative of the two groups, frontman Damon Albarn’s vocal strength has diminished since his days in Blur and earlier times in Gorillaz. Added onto the fact that Gorillaz’s most recent album, Humanz, struggled to make an impact beyond the band’s core fan base, the Killers are a better choice for the last show of ACL’s first weekend.

Weekend 2, Friday: Ryan Adams vs. Solange vs. Martin Garrix

Three polar opposites in their genres and fans, this scheduling choice was smart. Adams will appeal to the older and more rock-heavy fans of the festival, whereas Garrix has an obvious stranglehold on electronic and house fans. Solange stands out amongst the three, however, because of her strong live vocal performances, cross-genre appeal and visually appealing shows.

Weekend 2, Saturday: Benjamin Booker vs. Tash Sultana vs. DREAMERS vs. DREAMCAR

In one of the festival’s only fatal four-ways, the four acts above all bring something special to the table. DREAMCAR has a fresh new wave sound to their sets, but struggles to translate studio recordings onto the stage. DREAMERS and Tash Sultana seem to crossover genre-wise, taking on Indie and psychedelic rock with spacious sounds and effects. If the choice was between these two, the impressive one-woman show of Tash Sultana would win out, but Benjamin Booker is as equally a strong option for fans of heavier garage and blues rock.

Weekend 2, Sunday: Run the Jewels vs. BADBADNOTGOOD vs. The Head and the Heart

The most challenging choice of the entire weekend will certainly be this one. The Head and the Heart comes in as an underdog, bringing indie folk and fantastic live performances. Run the Jewels will perform the show everyone expects them to, full of energy, hits and sing-along moments. BADBADNOTGOOD, on the other hand, is the most spontaneous of the three groups, bringing a diverse jazz sound. This face-off will come down to personal preference and feeling in the moment, but those looking for an energetic set should opt with Run the Jewels, and others desiring a more relaxed experience will have to choose between BADBADNOTGOOD’s smooth jazz and The Head and the Heart’s infectious folk sound.