Billie Eilish 10/11/2019

Bilie Eilish for blog-soc med

17-year-old Billie Eilish has fast become one of the biggest stars to emerge since the 2017 release of her debut single “ocean eyes,” and continues to shatter the ceiling of music with her genre-defying sound. more

Rosalía 10/8/2019

Rosalia-Fall19 Promo Photo - Getty (1)

Catalonian singer Rosalía’s landmark album EL MAL QUERER was released in 2018 to immediate critical and commercial success. more

The Raconteurs 10/3/2019

photo by David James Swanson

The Nashville-based Raconteurs—featuring Jack White and Brendan Benson as dual frontmen/guitarists/lead singers/songwriters, and ace rhythm section of Jack Lawrence on bass and Patrick Keeler on drums—return with their acclaimed third studio LP and first new album in more than a decade, HELP US STRANGER (Third Man Records). more

New tapings: The Raconteurs, Billie Eilish and Rosalía

photo by David James Swanson

Austin City Limits announces the final tapings of our Season 45, featuring a trio of originals who are highlights of our namesake ACL Festival this year.  We’re thrilled to welcome back GRAMMY® Award-winning rockers The Raconteurs on Oct. 3, returning to our stage for the first time in over a decade, and two breakout artists making ACL debuts: groundbreaking Spanish singer/songwriter Rosalía on Oct. 8 and global pop-phenom Billie Eilish on Oct. 11. 

The Nashville-based Raconteurs—featuring Jack White and Brendan Benson as dual frontmen/guitarists/lead singers/songwriters, and ace rhythm section of Jack Lawrence on bass and Patrick Keeler on drums—return with their acclaimed third studio LP and first new album in more than a decade, HELP US STRANGER (Third Man Records).  The chart-topping album debuted at #1 on the SoundScan/Billboard 200 — the band’s first-ever #1 and their third trip to the top 10. Featuring a cadre of killer songs, HELP US STRANGER sees the mighty Raconteurs reassembled, stronger and even more vital than ever before as they continue to push rock ‘n’ roll forward into its future, bonding prodigious riffs, blues power, sinewy psychedelia, Detroit funk, and Nashville soul via Benson and White’s uncompromising songcraft and the band’s steadfast musical muscle. With HELP US STRANGER, The Raconteurs have returned right when they are needed most, unified and invigorated with boundless ambition, infinite energy and a collectivist spirit operating at the peak of its considerable powers, once again creating a sound and fury only possible when all four of its members come together. The band burst onto the scene in 2006 with their now-classic debut album, BROKEN BOY SOLDIERS, winning worldwide acclaim, Grammy® nominations for Best Rock Album and Best Rock Performance and a chart-topping smash single in “Steady, As She Goes,” followed by 2008’s Grammy®-winning CONSOLERS OF THE LONELYHELP US STRANGER is earning numerous shout-outs from national press: “The Raconteurs have made an album of what are, relatively, straight-up bangers…With tune after tune, this third Raconteurs outing is a blast” (The Guardian);  “HELP US STRANGER is Jack White and Brendan Benson’s love letter to classic rock” (Q); “the group’s richest batch of songs to date” (Spin).  Recorded at Third Man Studios in Nashville, TN, the record is proof positive a combo with chemistry like The Raconteurs has no rust to shake off. They are as scrappy, current, steadfast, and captivating as they were when they first joined forces, and their joy of creating together is satisfyingly palpable. Earning raves for their first live shows in eight years, the band return to our stage in the middle of an epic world tour, and we’re thrilled to welcome them back.

17-year-old Billie Eilish has fast become one of the biggest stars to emerge since the 2017 release of her debut single “ocean eyes,” and continues to shatter the ceiling of music with her genre-defying sound. Fast forward from her humble breakout, Billie’s record-breaking double platinum debut studio album WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? debuted at #1 in the Billboard 200 in the U.S, as well as in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and many more. It is now the biggest North American debut of the decade (male, female or group), shifting 313,000 units in the first week and has already hit Number 1 in the Billboard 200 album charts an additional two times since its release in March, earning Billie more than 17 billion combined streams worldwide to date.  The LA native recently topped the Billboard Hot 100 with her single “bad guy”, becoming the first number one artist born this millennium. Billie received nine 2019 MTV Video Music Awards nominations and won three including Best New Artist at this year’s VMAs. Billie is the October cover star of Elle, and recently graced the covers of Rolling Stone, Billboard and V Magazine’s 20th Anniversary issue. Earning raves for her powerful live performances with breakthrough slots at 2019’s biggest music festivals, including Coachella, Glastonbury and our upcoming namesake ACL Festival, Billie is currently on her sold-out headlining WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WORLD TOUR and we are excited to welcome her to our stage in her ACL debut.

Catalonian singer Rosalía’s landmark album EL MAL QUERER was released in 2018 to immediate critical and commercial success. The album’s groundbreaking fusion of classic Flamenco with R&B and electronic beats, coupled with 26-year-old Rosalía’s nod to the visual arts, fashion and choreography was strongly embraced by fans across the globe. The music industry at large took note, with the album’s breakout single “Malamente” garnering six 2018 Latin Grammy nominations, and taking home awards for Best Alternative Song and Best Urban Fusion Performance2019 has seen the groundbreaking Spanish star continue her meteoric ascent to Global stardom with an appearance alongside James Blake on his single “Barefoot in the Park,” and three smash singles of her own with the recent double track “Milionària & “Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero,” “Aute Cuture” and her widely-acclaimed, and frequent ‘Song of the Summer’ pick “Con Altura” with Reggaeton superstar J Balvin and featuring El Guincho. The video for “Con Altura” recently earned two MTV Video Music Awards wins including Best Latin Video and is 2019’s most-watched video from a female lead artist (now over 800 million views), reaching #1 on YouTube’s Global music video chart.  An equal factor in Rosalía’s worldwide embrace is her unique and starmaking live performances on her sold out “El Mal Querer Tour,” and across 2019’s top Global festivals – including Coachella, Primavera Sound, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza and many more. The reaction to her live show was best summarized by the UK’s NME in a FIVE STAR live review of her Glastonbury set declaring: “Rosalia put on the show of a lifetime…If you haven’t listened to Rosalia—or seen her live – you need to. ASAP.”  We’re thrilled to welcome her to our stage in her ACL debut. 

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast episodes will air later this year as part of ACL’s upcoming milestone Season 45 which premieres October 5 on PBS.

Taping recap: Colter Wall

photo by Scott Newton

Innovation is awesome, and music would be dead in the water without it. But innovation grows out of tradition, so it’s important for young artists to come along and keep tradition alive. What makes 24-year-old Colter Wall special is his ability to stay within traditional music stylings, while sounding fresh and contemporary, rather than stale and reactionary. That’s what the Canadian C&W artist does on his widely-acclaimed second album Songs of the Plains, and that’s what he did for his first ACL taping, which we live streamed around the world. 

Following Terry Lickona’s introduction, Wall and his four-piece backing group took the stage. Singing and picking alone, Wall opened the show with “Thirteen Silver Dollars,” essentially a folk song that became country when the band kicked in. He then reached back into Canadian musical history for the rodeo honky-tonker “Calgary Round-Up,” penned by Nova Scotian Wilf Carter (AKA Montana Slim in the States), Canada’s first country star and the father of Canadian country music. With a midtempo take on Johnny Cash’s “boom-chicka-boom,” Wall went back to his catalog of originals with “Saskatchewan in 1881,” highlighted by Jake Groves’ harmonica solo. He and the band then laid out a classic tear-in-your-beer two-stepper with “Thinkin’ On a Woman,” a perfect vehicle for his craggy baritone. Wall followed that with a brand new song, the folky cowboy tune “Happy Reunion,” penned by his songwriter friend Mike Beck and recently recorded in Texas. Straight from that new take on the cowboy tradition, he went to another song from the past: the waltzing “Cowpoke,” written by Elton Britt and recorded by a host of luminaries, including Eddy Arnold, Hank Williams, Jr., Riders in the Sky, Glen Campbell and Austin’s own Don Walser. Again, without pause, he essayed the next tune, and it was another old classic: Marty Robbins’ murder ballad “Big Iron,” which garnered immediate cheers at the first line. 

With the crowd in the palm of his hand, Wall then gifted us with another brand new song entitled “Western Swing and Waltzes,” a danceable honky-tonker with the air of a future setlist staple. Ditto “Hoolihans,” another unrecorded tune that dips into the tradition of songs about being on the road a little too long and using cowboy roping shots to stave off boredom. Itt took on extra poignancy stripped to just Wall and steel guitarist Patrick Lyons on dobro, to the crowd’s delight. That was followed by an older original, the witty, two-stepping “Motorcycle.” He paid more tribute to the Canadian C&W tradition with “The Coyote and the Cowboy,” taken from the catalog of British Colombian legend Ian Tyson. Then it was back to his own songs with the waltz “Plain to See a Plainsman,” a song Wall explained just “poured itself out” – Groves’ harmonica break earned enthusiastic cheers. Wall ended the set with “Sleeping On the Blacktop,” a fan favorite with dueling dobro and harmonica and a palpable sense of menace. It was a fine, stirring end to the show, and the audience clearly loved Wall’s earnest revival of old-school country & western. We can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.     

Taping recap: Black Pumas

photo by Scott Newton

While we at Austin City Limits cast our musical net far and wide, we have a special place in our hearts for hometown talent. So we were thrilled to present the fast-rising Austin act Black Pumas, led by singer Eric Burton and guitarist Adrian Quesada, who’s no stranger to our stage due to his work with Grupo Fantasma. Joined by a five-piece band, the duo gave us a burning hot set (which we live streamed around the world) of rock, funk and soul.

The audience extended these hometown heroes a warm welcome as they came onstage, setting a level of excitement as the band dived into the simmering soul groove of “Next to You,” with Burton showing off his husky pipes and slinky dance moves. The singer donned a guitar for “Colors,” a midtempo charmer from the group’s self-titled debut, highlighted by nifty solos from Quesada and keyboardist JaRon Marshall. New song “Black Cat” followed, blending a sixties-derived melody with a modern rock feel – a sound that moved Burton to join the crowd on the floor, to their delight. “Old Man” segued into seventies funk with a smoky descending groove anchored by a Latin bridge, while “Know You Better” charged into moodier territory while still keeping the rhythm alive. “Black Moon Rising,” the Pumas’ original calling card, stayed with the same groove without losing steam or heat. 

Some louder guitar licks signaled another new tune: the funky “I Am Ready,” accented by more Burton dance moves. He re-donned his guitar for the undulating “Stay Gold,” an anthem for positivity and good will. The former Congress Ave. busker then gave thanks to both Quesada and the crowd for his current career position, before jumping right into the hard-grooving “Fire.” An insistent electric piano lick and more Burton steps powered the sinuous “More Than a Love Song,” while the singer’s powerful voice and Quesada’s psychedelic solos made the ballad “Confines” soar into lighterwaving territory. The group brought back that soulful, brooding seethe for “OCT 33,” whose mystery came wrapped in a lush package. The Pumas ended the set with the explosive “Etta James,” with Burton paying tribute to the R&B great while Quesada smoked on guitar. 

The audience applauded rapturously, but of course that wasn’t the final tune. The band came back, with Burton leaping into the crowd for high-fives, with a surprising cover choice. The Pumas deftly transformed the Beatles’ string-quartet masterpiece “Eleanor Rigby” into a snarling soul rocker, paying tribute to Ray Charles’ radical rearrangement more than the original. Quesada ripped up his fretboard, while Burton and backup singers Angela Miller and Lauren Horsby anchored the song in the church mentioned in the lyrics. The audience cheered the Austin homeboys wildly, as well they should have. It was a great showcase for the power of Austin music, and we’re excited for you to see it early next year on your local PBS station.  

Taping recap: Vampire Weekend

photo by Scott Newton

Six years is a long time in popular music. For Vampire Weekend, that means six years since the band’s last album and six since the last time they were on Austin City Limits. But the success of their fourth album Father of the Bride – which is also their third #1 on the Billboard album chart – proves that six years is nothing to a fanbase as loyal and enthusiastic as theirs. To say the crowd was excited for Vampire Weekend’s return – which we live streamed around the world – is an understatement. 

The audience yelled their appreciation loudly as the seven-piece band took the stage with the double drummer groove of “Sympathy,” from Bride. The group then dipped into their landmark Modern Vampires of the City, for the jangly “Unbelievers.” A cheer went up at the opening, African-tinged chords of “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” a canny update of American worldbeat experiments, followed by the eight-and-a-half minute “Stoneflower,” a more jamming multi sectional version of the new record’s “Sunflower” highlighted by dual guitar action and a dizzying solo from axe person Brian Roberts. If dual guitars are good, triple are better, as leader Ezra Koenig, bassist Chris Balo and Roberts harmonized the intro to the Afrobeat-loving “White Sky.” Bride’s “Bambina” followed, working a delightful pop atmosphere all VW’s own. That led into another epic tour-de-force, as “2021” went from ethereal ballad to bombastic lighter-waver, all of it laced with Koenig’s subtle talk box. The crowd loved it. 

Something lighter was clearly required, and the sweet psych pop of “Step” provided it. “My Mistake” got even quieter, its strain of sixties pop melody made all the more acute by its demand for close attention. Breath sufficiently caught, the band launched into “New Dorp New York,” Koenig’s collaboration with EDM producer SBTRKT, transformed into a Vampire Weekend funk rock epic. “This Life” took the band back to jangle pop, but Koenig’s jones for catchy melody really flowered on the masterful “Harmony Hall,” a clear audience favorite. VW followed that triumph with the radio hit “Diane Young,” its original faux-rockabilly stylings replaced by more forthright rock & roll. The group revisited second LP Contra for the spiky “Cousins,” but that was just a warm-up for “A-Punk,” the band’s breakthrough tune which brought the crowd to its feet to sing along. 

After that breathless five-song rush, it was time for another ballad, and the group obliged with the lovely “Hannah Hunt.” VW ended the main set with “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin,” which started slowly and gently, before building up into a drum-driven epic. The audience went wild. Of course, the band came back, bearing a surprising and faithful cover of Crowded House’s guitar pop standard “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” Following retakes of “2021” and “This Life” (which their fans didn’t mind at all), Vampire Weekend ended the show with the power popping “Walcott,” a fan favorite given a turbocharged reading here. It was an excellent show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.

ACL announces live streams for Vampire Weekend, Black Pumas and Colter Wall

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Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce that we will be live streaming a trio of upcoming tapings, with indie rock kings Vampire Weekend on 8/22, Austin psych soul band Black Pumas on 8/28 and Canadian Folk & Western singer Colter Wall on 8/30. Each stream starts at 8 pm CT on our YouTube channel

Vampire Weekend returns to Austin City Limits for their highly-anticipated second ACL appearance.  Ending months of fevered anticipation punctuated by three brilliant double-A-side singles and a slew of over-the-top positive early reviews, Vampire Weekend’s long-awaited fourth album Father of the Bride was released earlier this year, landing the #1 spot on the U.S. charts in its debut.  The album was released to rapturous reviews: GQ says “One of the most important bands of the 21st century…With Father of the Bride, their fourth album, the group has expanded itself and the conception of what a band can be”;  Stereogum hails Father of the Bride, “Quite possibly their magnum opus”; USA Today raves “Vampire Weekend returns as the best indie band of their generation.” The third Vampire Weekend album in a row to reach #1 on the Billboard 200, Father of the Bride’s first week tally of 138,000 is both the year’s biggest sales week for a rock act and the highest single week sales of the Grammy-winning band’s career. Vampire Weekend recently made their first television appearance in five years and kicked off their Father of the Bride North American Tour with sold-out dates throughout 2019. Watch the Vampire Weekend live stream on Aug. 22 here

Black Pumas, the collaboration between former L.A. street musician Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada, the Grammy-winning founder of Austin’s Latin-funk powerhouse Grupo Fantasma, is having a banner year.  The buzzed-about act just released an acclaimed self-titled debut and won Best New Band at this year’s 2019 Austin Music Awards. Described as “Wu-Tang Clan meets James Brown” by KCRW, they locked down their reputation for thrilling live shows during a 2018 residency at the C-Boys venue in Austin that overnight became the hottest party in town.  The group’s 2019 South by Southwest appearance earned them numerous shout-outs from national press, with NPR hailing them “the breakout band of 2019” and Rolling Stone naming Black Pumas one of the festival’s best acts, saying “Few artists seem to tap the collective unease of the national moment quite like Austin’s Black Pumas…never missing a beat is the tireless, charismatic energy of singer Eric Burton.”  Austin-American Statesman raves “In an era of widespread despair, the band makes rock songs that feel like prayers.” Watch the Black Pumas live stream on Aug. 28 here

After two years of nonstop touring, Colter Wall wanted to make an album about home. Drawing on the stories of his native Saskatchewan, the young songwriter’s corner of the world takes shape throughout his second full-length album, Songs of the Plains. Produced by GRAMMY® Award-winning Dave Cobb in Nashville’s Studio A, the project combines striking original folk songs, well-chosen outside cuts, and a couple of traditional songs that reflect the 24-year-old’s roots growing up in a small town in Western Canada.   The New Yorker declared, “Wall is among the most reflective young country singers of his generation… His ace in the hole is his showstopping voice: a resonant, husky baritone, wounded and vulnerable.” “Wall pushes in close against the untenanted space of the middle provinces, filling their geographic gaps with an intoxicating rasp,” notes Pitchfork. “He sings with a serrated edge, his voice digging crevices rich with heartbreak, homeland, and heritage.” Noisey calls Songs of the Plains “ a heartbroken triumph, a statement suggesting that all that’s missing is perhaps not forever lost.” Watch the Colter Wall live stream on Aug. 30 here

Join us in August here for sets by these great artists. The broadcast episodes will air on PBS later this year as part of our upcoming Season 45.