Never Sleeps: Austin City Limits

By Tanner Cormier

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Veteran Playboy readers are probably more familiar with the long-running PBS show than the hot-ticket festival, but Austin City Limits has made a lasting impression on the American live music landscape. If you were to attribute Austin’s designation as the Live Music Capital of the World to one thing, it would likely be ACL and the rich aural tapestry the show has woven in the nearly 40 years it’s been on the air, bringing local and regional acts and some of the biggest names in the world under one institution. And now, in its 11th year as an annual event, Austin City Limits 2013 has split itself in two, spreading the festival love over back-to-back weekends, and we’re ready to squeeze the very last drops out of what remains of the southern summer this Saturday, October 12 at ACL.

2 P.M. - Hotel San Jose

Photo credit: Keegan Jones

It might be the middle of October, but the weather in autumnal Austin is still scorching. And since you’re heading into the heart of the furnace for a festival, do yourself a favor by checking into the Hotel San Jose. Built on the site of a former motor court, the sprawling bungalow-style hotel is an Edenlike reprieve from the intense heat of the city, all cool colors and modern interiors. Rough yourself up on the Austin streets all you want, but you’ll want to return to the Hotel San Jose to come down from the festival highs. Seriously, we’d live here if we weren’t so busy Never Sleeping.

4 P.M. – Barton Springs Road

Barton Springs Road leads from downtown Austin into the heart of the ACL festival grounds, Zilker Park, and the denizens of the Austin music scene have seized upon it to create, in an extension of the festival itself, an annual block party to rival the scene going on in the main event. This is actually several official events thrown onto one strip of Austin street; you’d do well to RSVP to a few in advance so you can sip some complimentary tequila or float away in the Vodka Garden before heading into the fest.

@ Austin City Limits

5 P.M. - Grimes

Photo credit: NRK P3

Montreal’s reigning elven goddess of bedroom electronics and pop subversion makes her second ACL appearance this year armed with only a pair of keyboards, her laptop and an unmistakable voice. Don’t miss the recent MTV VMA red carpet fashion host as she casts her spell over the crowd in Zilker Park.

7 P.M. - Kendrick Lamar

Photo credit: NRK P3

You may have heard of Kendrick Lamar. If not from us, or during the volley of praise that followed the release of his debut LP, it was probably due to his recent string of acid-tongued guest verses in which he calls out everyone in hip-hop from Drake to Tupac. Kendrick might have taken to courting controversy, but with the body of work he’s amassed in only a few years, the man doesn’t need a loudspeaker to get our attention.

8 P.M. - Kings of Leon

Photo credit: @englishinvader

The brothers (and one cousin) Followill, now regular chart-toppers, headline the Saturday night proceedings. Though their brand of sweaty and breathless blues-inflected Southern American has taken a turn for stadium rock in recent years, the boys have a pretty deep bag of tricks to reach into and they know how to use it to perfect, festival-fueling effect.

After ACL

10 P.M. – Popshop ATX

You’d be foolish to drop in on Austin without taking a look at the local music scene it’s so renowned for, so wander around the city and find it! Wind up at Empire Control Room & Garage for the last of a string of ACL parties, all fueled by live music and guest DJ sets from festival performers. On the inside: Popshop ATX, a pop music club night for the discerning capped with a Talking Heads cover set and DJ set from ACL players and indie darlings Grouplove. Outside—car lot by day, party lot by night—is Pure Opulence, a gold-crusted visual assault of lights and music sound tracked by local noise-popper Pure X. It’s all a little on the hipster side, but then again, that’s Austin. Get into it.

Header photo credit: nan palmero


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