I'm what you can call a late bloomer when it comes to music festivals. Before coming to work for Rocks Off, my festival expertise was regulated to the Houston International Festival and that one SXSW that I spent bar hopping on Red River then somehow managing to sneak into Stubbs through the artist entrance to see/meet Matisyahu (don't judge me, he was the shit at the time!).
And now, I'm hooked. All of my vacation time spent away from my corporate job is booked with a music festival on the schedule, either staying home for Summer Fest, Identity Fest and Best Fest, in Austin for SXSW or ACL, New Orleans for Jazz Fest, Philadelphia for Made In America, and soon California for Coachella and Chicago for Lollapalooza.
This will be my third ACL, and of course I haven't packed yet or even finalized my schedule. By this time Friday morning, I will be looking for a place to park my Jeep, hop on my bike, and ride down towards Zilker in what I hope continues to be gorgeous, cool October weather.
Here are the bands that I'm looking forward to see and photograph:
A-Trak I'm a bit of a DJ aficionado, first encountering A-Trak while browsing YouTube for old videos of DMC DJ competitions. Years later, I realized that the dude DJ-ing onstage behind Kanye West was the same talented kid I saw scratching and mixing years before. One of my favorite guilty pleasures is listening to electronic rap remixes, and Mr. Trak is one of the best at that sort of thing. (5:15 p.m. Friday, Honda Stage)
Avicii Shooting an EDM artist can be the most exhilarating yet difficult assignments for a photographer. Most of the time, the talent sits on top of a massive DJ booth flanked with video screens with lasers blinding you every two seconds. The music pulsates, the crowd dances, and the photographers get drenched with water/beer/glitter/confetti. The Swedish DJ/producer Avicii (pronounced "uh-vee-chi") is one of the hottest names in the EDM game right now, and the kids will surely line up by the thousands and wait for the beat to drop. (8:15 p.m. Friday, AMD Stage)
Big K.R.I.T. When your name is an acronym for "King Remembered In Time", you are either extremely talented, or extremely full of yourself. In this case, the new-ish rapper from Mississippi has enough talent and charisma to back up his grandiose choice of a moniker. He is currently on tour to promote his first studio album Live From The Underground, tapping Houston rapper Slim Thug as his opening act. It will be interesting to see how Young Krizzle's show translates to such a large festival setting. (3 p.m. Saturday, Honda Stage)
The Roots The term "legendary" is thrown around rather loosely nowadays, but if any band is deserving of such high praise and status, it is Philadelphia's own Roots Crew. Band leader and drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson supplies the beats and vision while MC Black Thought's deep voice and rhymes communicate a message far removed from the swag and trap rap that is so popular in the current rap arena. This Grammy-Award winning band is a lock to be considered one of the best performances of this year's festival. (6 p.m. Saturday, Bud Light Stage)
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Die Antwoord According to concert reviews written about this rap-rave group from South Africa, their show is a spectacle of weird, crazy, mind-blowing rhymes and visuals that will leave you feeling equally creeped out and amused. The name is Afrikaans for "The Answer", but group members Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er will make you question their sanity as they bounce around the stage violently. Definitely the WTF act of ACL. (5:15 p.m. Sunday, Honda Stage)
Red Hot Chili Peppers This is one of those bands that I can mark off my bucket list after this weekend. I remember listening to Blood Sugar Sex Magik on my Sony Walkman as a young teenager, so much so that the cassette tape wore out so I bought it again on CD. Singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea are two of the last true rock stars of my generation, and damn are they funky. I look forward to the massive sing-along when "Under The Bridge" rings out into the cool, Texas night. (8:15 p.m. Sunday, Bud Light Stage)