Encore: Father John Misty and The Black Angels

Father John Misty on Austin City Limits ©️KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a deep dive into the unconventional with two acts whose music provides a soundtrack to uncertain times: indie sensation Father John Misty in his ACL debut and modern psych-rockers The Black Angels in a return appearance.

Father John Misty, the pseudonym for the singer-songwriter also known as Josh Tillman, dazzles in his 5-song debut, offering a fascinating glimpse of one of today’s most charismatic artists. The indie-rock provocateur performs songs from his latest, Pure Comedy, a 2018 Grammy nominee for Best Alternative Album. Hailed “a sprawling masterwork” by NPR, the New York Times called it “an ideal album for the era of outrage.” Father John delivers an epic performance filled with his dry wit and keen insights on religion, fame, social media, technology and the overall state of humanity, backed by a 16-piece orchestra, including a full string and horn section. For the set-closer, the sweetly cynical “I Love You, Honeybear” (title track from his 2015 sophomore album), the magnetic bandleader playfully dances with the mic stand and waltzes offstage to embrace the crowd, a cult leader for the ages, as the audience sings along for an ecstatic climax.

Since forming in Austin in 2004, The Black Angels have become standard-bearers for modern psych-rock. The New York Times raves they “play psychedelic rock as if the 1960s never ended, and they are absolute masters of it.” The quintet debuted on ACL in 2013 and make their return appearance with a charged set of songs from their first full-length release in four years, the acclaimed Death Song. NPR raves, “The Black Angels have delivered an enormous and frighteningly timely fifth album full of uniquely trippy anthems to oblivion.” Frontman Alex Maas’ keening vocals channel 21st century outrage on hypnotic set opener “Currency,” which pillories our capitalism-above-all-else society. Surrounded by screens swirling with kaleidoscopic images, the music serves as part protest, part emotional catharsis in a climate dominated by division, anxiety and unease, anchored by cutting wordplay and the distorted fuzz of menacing guitars.

“‘These are perilous times,’ somebody once wrote, and writing songs that define or defy today’s times can be a perilous exercise,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Nobody does it better than Josh Tillman and Alex Maas. They infuse their songs with a musical urgency that is really hypnotic. The impact of their two sets together makes this a unique ACL episode.”

The Black Angels on Austin City Limits ©️KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for another encore episode, featuring Americana giants Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires.

Encore: The Head and The Heart and Benjamin Booker

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases two standout acts featured on this year’s namesake ACL Festival: The Head and the Heart and Benjamin Booker. Both acts are highlights on the touring circuit, drawing raves for soulful live performances.

Seattle folk-rock band The Head and the Heart make their second ACL appearance with a luminous performance featuring songs from their newest release Signs of Light. The indie favorites are one of live music’s biggest draws, with high-profile 2017 festival appearances including Coachella, Bonnaroo, Newport Folk in addition to Austin’s own ACL Festival. The sextet deliver an uplifting, singalong set filled with new musical touchstones including “All We Ever Knew” and “City of Angels.” A moving cover of “Hunger Strike” honoring late Seattle icon Chris Cornell is a set highlight, rich with three-part harmonies. The band bring the passionate set to a glorious close with the soaring “River and Roads” from their 2011 self-titled debut, a fan favorite.

Florida-raised, New Orleans-based guitarist and singer-songwriter Benjamin Booker delivers a raw, impassioned ACL debut packed with songs from his acclaimed 2017 album Witness and his 2014 self-titled breakout debut. Opening with his rocking radio hit “Violent Shiver,” the twenty-eight year old phenom draws on soul, blues and gospel, showcasing stirring soul-rockers “Carry,” “The Slow Drag Under” and “Believe” backed by a gospel choir. A powerful performance of his Civil Rights anthem “Witness” combines Booker’s husky, soulful voice with a profound message on racism in America. 

“The Head and the Heart and Benjamin Booker are prime examples of artists who just keep getting better,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Rather than finding a groove and just staying with it, they are constantly searching for new ways to express their voices, and new sounds to go along with them. The end result can be surprising but always inspiring.”

photo by Scott Newton

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Join us next week for another encore episode, featuring jazz singer Cassandra Wilson performing a tribute to Billie Holiday.

 

Encore: The Pretenders

The Pretenders - photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits rocks on with a hit-filled hour starring the great Pretenders in their first-ever appearance on the ACL stage. The legendary rock band sends a message of love to viewers with an eleven-song hit parade.

Influential punk new-wave veterans the Pretenders are in fighting form as they kick off an electrifying hour with new classic “Alone,” a swagger-fueled gem that fits right into the band’s canon, and the title track from their first album in almost a decade. Iconic bandleader Chrissie Hynde informs the crowd, “You don’t have to be polite, because we don’t plan to be.” The defiant frontwoman commands the stage, showcasing her still-radiant voice in a career-spanning performance featuring fan-favorites including “Back On The Chain Gang,” “My City Was Gone,” “Mystery Achievement,” and “Middle of the Road.” Pretenders’ trademark tough and tender lyrics resonate as they did when the band arrived on the London scene in 1978. Hynde fondly introduces original member Martin Chambers as “the world’s greatest rock drummer,” as he plays the stirring intro of “Message Of Love.” The band caps the powerhouse set with their signature hit “Brass In Pocket,” as Hynde pulls a spellbound fan onstage to join her on the timeless tune.

“One thing that hasn’t changed in almost 40 years,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “Chrissie Hynde is still a badass! There’s no doubt about who’s in charge, and musically her voice still rings as clear and strong as ever. Whether you’re an old fan or a newbie, this is a show for the ages.”

photo by Scott Newton

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Join us next week for an encore episode of expert songwriting and soulful singing with Norah Jones and Angel Olsen.

Encore: Zac Brown Band

Zac Brown Band ©️KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a heartwarming hour with Southern country-rock act Zac Brown Band. The multi-platinum, three-time Grammy Award-winning group make their series debut with a career-spanning performance.

The acclaimed Atlanta octet showcase career highlights alongside new songs in a spirited, 11-song triumph. The country-rockers claimed Best New Artist at the 2010 Grammy Awards with their breakthrough release, The Foundation (now five-times platinum) and today are one of music’s biggest live acts. “We’re super-proud to be on the ACL stage,” says bandleader Zac Brown as he welcomes the crowd to pull up a seat at the “Family Table,” a gem from the band’s latest release Welcome Home. Brown shares the heartfelt stories behind many of their songs including the chart-topping ballad “Colder Weather” and the power-of-music testament “Day That I Die,” from 2012’s Uncaged, the Grammy Award-winning Best Country Album. The band cap the soaring set with a masterful hat-trick showcasing the musical range that has made them a fan-favorite; starting with “The Muse,” originally recorded with the Foo Fighters’ ubiquitous Dave Grohl, followed by their stirring cover of songwriting legend John Prine’s “All the Best,” and ending in tribute to their Southern-rock roots with a roof-raising finale of the Allman Brothers’ classic “Whipping Post.”

“To call them ‘Country’ or ‘Southern Rock’ doesn’t begin to describe the breadth and depth of what Zac Brown Band is really all about,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Singing songs that tell great stories and playing music that just plain makes you feel better is definitely a big part of who they are and where they’re from.”

Zac Brown Band ©️KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Join us next week for a brand new episode, featuring the debut of acclaimed country troubadour Sturgill Simpson and the return of ACL frequent flyers Asleep at the Wheel.

Encore: Florence + the Machine and Andra Day

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a breathtaking hour with two of today’s most inspirational acts: Florence + the Machine in their return appearance and Andra Day in a standout ACL debut.

UK hitmakers Florence + the Machine first-appeared on the ACL stage in 2012. Now international superstars and one of rock’s biggest live acts, the unstoppable band make a triumphant return with a high-energy, buoyant five-song set. Dynamic leader Florence Welch dances barefoot across the stage performing songs from their recent, chart-topping LP How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Her knockout vocals and remarkable rapport with fans captivate throughout as she enlists the crowd as a “hungover choir of angels” for the Grammy-nominated “Shake It Out” from 2011’s Ceremonials, closing with a rapturous performance of the band’s 2009 breakthrough smash, the anthemic “Dog Days Are Over.”

“Florence brings a unique performance art to all of her shows, and she took it to a new level this night,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “She went out of her way to establish a real connection with her audience, and at times the fans seemed to be as much a part of the show as she was. It’s very magical to watch it happen in real time.”

Rising star Andra Day dazzles with her unique mix of R&B, soul and jazz in her first ACL outing, performing songs from her Grammy-nominated debut Cheers to the Fall. A singer with astounding vocal range, she showcases her powerhouse vocals in a stellar, four-song set. The performance turns topical as Day addresses the events of the Orlando tragedy (her taping was the same day) and dedicates her anthem of resilience “Rise Up” to the victims and their families. In a raw, emotionally cathartic moment, she asks the audience to join her in song sending healing energy in the hopes that the families might feel some comfort. Closing with a cover of Queen’s “I Want It All,” altering the original’s rock arrangement into a pleading blues ballad, the song brings the singer to her knees and the audience to their feet.

“It was the day of the Orlando tragedy, and emotions were already running high,” says Lickona. “Andra’s powerful performance reminded us all that music can be a universal healer and a force for good. When she sang ‘Rise Up,’ there was hardly a dry eye in the house.”

photo by Scott Newton

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for an encore episode featuring the ACL debut of Zac Brown Band.

 

Encore: TV on the Radio and The War On Drugs

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases left of the dial faves TV On The Radio and The War On Drugs, splitting the bill in a brand new installment. Two of today’s most critically-acclaimed indie rock bands, both acts make powerful debuts in their first appearance on the ACL stage.  

First up is TV On The Radio, formed in Brooklyn in 2001 and considered one of the most influential bands of the decade. The quartet showcase tracks from their latest and widely-acclaimed album Seeds. TVOTR’s originality and eclectic musical spirit—encompassing psychedelia, soul, electronica and urgent punk rock—is evident in their masterful five-song set, opening with the hard-driving “Lazerray” and grappling with pain and loss in the soulful, emotional closer “Trouble.” Witness an act that continues to make music boldly on their own terms, always pushing forward to become one of the best bands of its generation.

Philadelphia band The War On Drugs perform songs from their 2014 breakthrough Lost in the Dream, which earned widespread praise and landed the top spot on many critics’ album-of-the-year lists. Kicking off a gorgeous set with “Under the Pressure”, the song Spin declared record of the year, the rock outfit build momentum creating lush soundscapes filled with musical craft and intricate instrumentation. Bandleader Adam Granduciel’s Dylanesque vocals, cathartic lyrics and grand-scale guitar solos unfold to reveal expansive, dreamy atmospherics for a memorable debut.

The War on Drugs ©KLRU photo by Scott Newton

photo by Scott Newton

“Indie music has been an important part of ACL’s musical legacy over the past two decades, but it’s a big umbrella that covers a vast musical landscape,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Both TV On The Radio and The War On Drugs stand out as virtuoso live musicians, but their songs and vocals are what caught my ear. They are personal yet accessible to anyone who is a fan of great music.”

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. This episode will also make its debut on American Airlines’ in-flight entertainment channel in June. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for an hour with global pop star Ed Sheeran.

 

Austin City Limits episodes on American Airlines flights

photo by Happy Mercado

American Airlines has partnered with Austin City Limits to bring the series on board American Airlines flights. The official airline of ACL, American Airlines offers ACL-branded video and audio channels featuring a variety of musical genres and artists. From early episodes featuring legendary artists such as Roy Orbison to recent seasons showcasing musical superstars Radiohead and the Pretenders, passengers can choose from eight different episodes each month. Megan Worley, Manager, Brand Actions, at American Airlines said, “We’re continuously looking to partner with brands that will engage and delight our passengers. Austin City Limits is a superb addition to our inflight entertainment, and will surely resonate with music lovers of all ages flying American.”

Encore: Ms Lauryn Hill

Ms. Lauryn Hill ©KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a fan-favorite encore broadcast of one of the most acclaimed episodes in ACL history.  A rare hour with hip-hop/R&B icon Ms. Lauryn Hill, which premiered in August 2016 as a preview of the PBS music series’ Season 42, will be rebroadcast this weekend (check local listings).  Music fans everywhere will have the opportunity to revisit this instant classic, a must-see Season 42 standout. The performance was Ms. Hill’s debut appearance on the series, and the episode premiered to rave reviews:

“Phenomenal…probably one of the best performances to have graced the ACL studios”

i-D Magazine

“Showstopping…Hill and her stacked band deliver an electrifying take” Rolling Stone

“One of the best in the show’s history” Hot New Hip-Hop

“Her performance makes clear why she’s one of the all-time greats…Hill and her band are on-a-dime perfect” Crave

“A masterful performance…electrifying” Stereogum

“Stunning” Vibe

“The songstress (and MC) displays her strongest gifts in one of her best performances in years” Ambrosia For Heads

“Fantastic” Slate

“Dazzling set” Consequence of Sound

“The year’s best hour of televised music” Indianapolis Star  

In a performance for the ages, the trailblazing Ms. Lauryn Hill dazzles the Austin crowd with a career-spanning  set culled from her landmark release The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and her pioneering work with the Fugees, one of the best-selling hip-hop acts in history. Opening the emotional set with her solo hit “Ex-Factor,” the multiple Grammy-winning singer and songwriter performs stunning versions of her biggest hits and fan favorites. One of the greatest MCs of all time, Hill has the crowd on their feet with the opening notes of “Fu-Gee-La” for an explosive take on the Fugees classic, weaving “Austin, I love you like no other before” into the lyric. Hill commands the stage, backed by a 12-piece band and performs a gorgeous cover of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” before closing out her unforgettable performance with the crowd-pleaser “Doo Wop (That Thing),” proving she’s still one of the most powerful artists in music today.  

photo by Scott Newton

“Every Lauryn Hill performance is special,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and an hour of Ms. Hill on the ACL stage is nothing less than historic. She pours her heart and soul and every ounce of energy into every minute, and it shows. There’s nobody else quite her!”

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for a brand new episode featuring the ACL debut of the one and only Cyndi Lauper.