The lineup for this year’s Austin City Limits has been announced, and good lord, it is terrible — unless you were a teenager in the mid-90s and haven’t moved on even a little bit. Maybe you had that Beastie Boys ringer-t with the sparkly bus on the front and “Aloha Mr. Hand” on the back. Maybe you had Ten on cassette in the eighth grade. And maybe, for a few brief months, you decided you sorta liked “Crash” by Dave Matthews because you figured it was the only way anyone would ever make out with you. All you need to do is cough up $185 and secure a flight to Austin for the weekend of October 2nd, and you will be surrounded by other people just like you.
So, yeah, the festival is being headlined by Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews and the Beastie Boys, which is strange and sad and says an awful lot about the current state of popular rock music. But what makes this year’s ACL even more upsetting is that you have to search long and hard, through an awful lot of shit you have never, ever heard of, to find a few bands you’re actually interested in. Now, if you do, you’ll see that there are scheduled sets by Andrew Bird, Girl Talk, the Decemberists, Lily Allen, Daniel Johnston, the Dodos, Blitzen Trapper and a few other decent mid-level indie acts — not too shabby, really, but when you consider that the bigger bands on the bill are basically nostalgia acts, and everything below them is, well, no one knows what any of that stuff is, it seems pretty clear that you should only worry about heading to Austin one time each year, in March.