ACL 2012 Lineup Is Exactly What You’d Expect

As far as the Big Four fests go, Coachella is the crazy raving cousin, Lolla is your favorite big city hipster friend, Bonnaroo is that jamming stoner uncle who lives in the woods, and ACL? Well, it continues to be your baby boomin’ dad, grasping for relevancy but always missing the mark. After a stellar lineup in Indio, which expanded to two weekends this year, and acceptable rosters from ‘roo and C3’s Chicago party, we hoped the hometown fest would resemble what has come before, especially considering C3 is in charge of it as well. We do this every year, knowing in the back of our minds it won’t be so, but still we hope. And year after year, we are predictably disappointed.

Let’s be clear: this lineup does NOT SUCK. In truth, ACL never is a clear-cut bomb. But is any diverse major festival? There are some gems in here; the headliners are all good, for a change. There’s some great bands playing throughout all three days. Are they worth the Texas heat, the packed crowds, the overpriced everything, the $200 price tag? This lineup is not the worst. But overall, it’s not good either. It’s bland. Middle of the road. Phoned in. Leftover. Uninspired. Underwhelming. In a word: meh.

I suppose the biggest problem I have with ACL is its desperate need to satisfy everyone more than any other festival. This is a geographical, demographic factor; Lolla is in the heart of the third biggest city in the country. People travel to spacious areas in the California desert and Tennessee country to see their favorites. ACL is in Austin, a diverse, cultured, unique Democratic town in the heart of big red Texas. So we get more bluegrass, more classic rock, more local mediocrity, more twee, and more Triple A indie. And then you see a random dance or hip-hop act just to maintain this obligatory sense of credibility (this year it’s A-Trak and Childish Gambino….I saw both last November in a smaller park down the road. Fun Fun Fun wins again). I don’t know how many times last year I heard complaints the lineup had too much rap. Too much? It didn’t have enough. Never does. Just once I’d like to see ACL take more risks and maybe let Asleep At the Wheel sit a year out so a progressive sound could blow some gray hair back.

I get it, though, why try? ACL is programmed with an “if it ain’t broke” mentality, and it continues to sell tickets. No business like show business. Then again, when over half of said tickets are sold out before the lineup is even announced, you know people aren’t coming for the music anyway. And the people that actually care, that bought their tickets today? That will endure sunscreen and empty wallets and hoards of idiocy of all ages? More power to you. That’s dedication. Stay hydrated, and maybe I’ll see you at the afterparties.

Click here for the full lineup, currently organized by date.

Leave a Reply