Before we begin, Radiohead is in Europe for the duration of this year's Austin City Limits Music Festival. They will not fly 12 hours to play a field in Austin.
It begins every year around this time, in the lull after SXSW, before Free Press Summer Fest and just as the summer concert season begins pulling itself together as road packages get announced for the bigger venues.
It's a tradition now to handicap who will play ACL, which this year is slated for October 12-14 in Austin's Zilker Park, and as always we will get shit wrong and be way off on some if not all the names on the bill.
For one, we will bet cold hard cash (at least a few bucks) that burgeoning Austin blues institution Gary Clark Jr. will be at ACL. He has become a rock-solid festival draw and he slays crowds.
What about our locals who are getting more national acclaim, like Robert Ellis and Buxton? They aren't bad picks either to play a smaller stage at Zilker. Both acts look to be clear that week so far. Right, dudes?
Red Hot Chili Peppers: A new album, I'm With You, came last August and was a bit of a non-starter, though they can still sell out arenas including Toyota Center. The Chili Peppers seem festival-ready, and they have nothing on their plates around this time in their schedule, save for Houston and San Antonio dates. Not only that, they fit in perfectly with ACL's college-age demo and older folks who remember listening to Blood Sugar Sex Magik on cassette.
Foo Fighters: They last played ACL in October 2008, so they are due back, and they should be winding down the cycle for last year's Wasting Light by the fall if not earlier.
No Doubt: A new album hits September 25, and they are now working on a second generation of fans who are rediscovering their breakthrough album Tragic Kingdom, which turns 17 years old this year. You read that right.
Animal Collective: A new album, a warm relationship with Austin and a large fan base could make this happen. Expect at least a late-afternoon Technicolor display, or even an afterparty at Stubb's across town.
Muse: The trio is supposed to be turning in a new record this fall, and they have been off the road for a few years now, at least in the States. Their turn at ACL '07 solidified their headliner status, filling in for the White Stripes.
Jack White: Speaking of the Stripes, a Jack White solo set isn't so farfetched, either. Blunderbuss is a fun album, and I wanna hear it live. Too bad the line at his SXSW showcase was three hours long.
Florence + the Machine There haven't been many female headliners at ACL, and F&M would be a perfect fit. All those robes and shit.
Ryan Adams: Please, at least for me? I mean, with a wife like Mandy Moore, I wouldn't be too thrilled about getting on the road and being around farting dudes and roadies, either.
Eddie Vedder OR Pearl Jam: PJ is playing two festivals in the fall, Music Midtown Festival in Atlanta and the newish DeLuna Fest in Pensacola in late September. Vedder is playing Austin in November on his solo jaunt, so maybe a Vedder uke set at ACL is off the table, but a PJ closing set wouldn't be out of the question if the cash is there.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Young has never played ACL, and that seems really stupid. Let's be honest, though, his work on Le Noise was awesome but definitely not made for mass-market consumption at a festival. Now a Neil Young and Crazy Horse set would go well -- they have a new album on the way -- and leave room for trademark Crazy Horse cuts, too.
Ben Folds Five: This Chapel Hill, North Carolina, band is back at it and recording a reunion album after about a decade off the grind while Folds turned into a baby Burt Bacharach. They would be a good late-afternoon act. I know I would be watching.
M83: Houston loves them some M83, as evidenced by the show next week you guys sold out at the House of Blues months in advance. The band now has another fall tour which puts them in New Orleans on October 9, Houston's Bayou Music Center the next day and Dallas on October 11.
Green Day: Two new albums coming out in the fall, and they would be the first quasi-punk (cringe) group to play a very large stage at ACL. Hell, load up Green Day, No Doubt, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and you may have yourself a lineup worthy of sellout, though an alienating one for some. I know we are supposed to hate them, but I still love the hell out of their catalog. Even parts of 21st Century Breakdown had some charm.
PROBABLY MAYBE WHO KNOWS IT WOULDN'T SURPRISE ME
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Franz Ferdinand, Gotye, Kimbra, Phoenix, Silversun Pickups, The xx, Frank Ocean
I got into a lighthearted Twitter convo with @aclmike about this year's probable lineup. I mention the Chilis, he mentioned the Beastie Boys. I had known that Adam Yauch was pretty sick from hearing things through the grapevine and I replied to my tweeter buddy that Yauch was really very sick, but that I was holding out hope. The next day while I was in New Orleans, the news hit that he had succumbed to throat cancer. I still feel bad about saying that, though I know that I was just going off of industry talk.