X Games Austin Music
With 39 musical acts performing on four stages over three days, the music lineup at X Games Austin rivals any big concert festival of the summer. Headliners include Kanye West, Pretty Lights and The Flaming Lips, who will be playing alongside critically acclaimed musicians like Gary Clark Jr., Mac Miller, Slightly Stoopid, Bad Religion, Dillon Francis, Mayer Hawthorne, Wavves, Cash Cash, FMLYBND, Candyland and a stellar sampling of Austin's hottest bands. The best part? Tickets start at $39 for a one-day pass and just $89 for a three-day pass.
Love him or hate him, Grammy Award-winning artist Kanye West always makes things interesting. West will make a highly anticipated musical appearance Saturday night, performing songs off his sixth solo album "Yeezus." West drew from a wide range of collaborators for his latest album, including Daft Punk, super producer Rick Rubin, Kid Cudi and Mike Dean, a producer known for pioneering the Dirty South sound in the 1990s. The result was a rap album unlike anything you've ever heard. It's dark, sonically experimental, heavily influenced by electronic dance and Chicago house music and has been hailed for its creative risks and minimalist approach. One thing is for certain, West's avant-garde theatrical live show is something to behold. As Jack White recently said in an interview in the June 2014 issue of Rolling Stone, after seeing West perform live he thought, "That might have been the greatest show I've seen in my life. ... It was more punk, more in-your-face than anything I've seen."
Austin Music Experience Stage
The capital of the Lone Star state might be famous for acclaimed music festivals like SXSW, Austin City Limits and Fun Fun Fest, but Austin also boasts a vibrant local music scene that's made up of thousands of bands and more music venues per capita than any other city. So you can be sure that KUTX 98.9 FM, Austin's all-music public radio station, will be making sure the local music scene is well represented on the X Games Austin Music Experience stage. With a lineup of local performers that reflect the city's creative spirit and diverse tastes, it's hard to pick out "must sees." If you, however, were to make a special effort to see and hear the wild raucous rock n' roll sounds of Not in the Face or Black Pistol Fire (left), the raw soulful blues-rock singer/songwriter Emily Wolfe (right), the synth rock of The Black and White Years, the fuzzy garage pop of Mirror Travel or the dark sultry croons and growls of My Jerusalem, you would not be disappointed.
The music of Bad Religion was an entry point into the world of action sports for generations of now-fanatical enthusiasts. Their fervent punk rock sound and socially responsible message continues to appeal to people across age and sport/culture lines. On Saturday, the group returns to their punk rock roots performing material from their 16 studio albums including last year's "True North," which many critics hailed as the group's best album in 10 years. And, you can bet bassist Jay Bentley will be watching the skateboarding finals when the band is not performing.
Pretty Lights, Velocity Lounge
If bombastic, sample-rich electronic dance remixes are more your thing, X Music has plenty of DJs, producers and light shows to melt your face off during Austin's steamy summer nights. The Velocity Lounge will host DJ sets all weekend, featuring Nashville's electronic punk rockers Five Knives, New York's three-piece Cash Cash (famous for remixes for Bruno Mars, Capital Cities and Calvin Harris), producer/DJ/world-renowned turntablist Jayceeoh and Austin's indie electro fusion super group, Auto Body. And if that's not enough unce for you, Denver hip-hop producer and EDM festival star Derek Vincent Smith -- aka Pretty Lights -- will be headlining/owning the main Austin360 Amphitheater stage on Friday night.
Gary Clark Jr.
Fresh off his 2014 Grammy win for "Best Traditional R&B performance," Austin-raised guitarist Gary Clark Jr. will take the main stage on Sunday night. His searing set will feature the explosive guitar licks that have helped critics draw comparisons of Clark to guitar icons like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Rolling Stone dubbed Clark The King of the Summer Festivals as he has captivated audiences from Coachella to Glastonbury, Lollapalooza to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and from Metallica's Orion Festival to Jay-Z's Made in America. And if those accolades aren't enough to convince you, try this one: After seeing Clark play with blues legends B.B. King, Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy at a special White House performance, President Obama declared, "He's the future."
Los Angeles-based DJ/producer Dillon Francis is one of the hottest acts on the club and festival circuit right now. A pioneer of moombahton (a fusion of reggaeton and Dutch-influenced house music), his performances have caught the attention of such heavy hitters as Steve Aoki, Diplo and Will I. Am. Francis has toured with EDM giants Nero and Skrillex, remixed acts from from Daft Punk to Death Cab for Cutie and collaborated with A-Trak and Doctor P. His latest collaboration with DJ Snake on the single "Get Low" will have the masses dancing all summer long.
Multi-instrumentalist, DJ/producer Mayer Hawthorne will turn the dial down to a nice mellow slow jam Sunday afternoon on the main stage. Hawthorne draws inspiration from legendary R&B crooners Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Barry White, and Smokey Robinson, along with soulful yacht-rockers Steely Dan and Hall and Oates on his latest album "Where Does This Door Go." Yet he keeps his throwback sound fresh with unexpected samples and collaborations with super producers like Pharrell Williams and rapper Kendrick Lamar.
On Friday evening, San Diego band Slightly Stoopid will take to the stage to spread their positive vibes and laid-back summer jams. The band's most recent album "Top of the World" doesn't stray far from their signature blend of rock, funk, and reggae that is prevalent in the backing tracks of countless skating and surfing videos.
On the final night of X Music, The Flaming Lips will dig deep into their 30-year discography to close the festival and send us home with another one of their legendary stage shows. Austin is a special place for the Oklahoma psychedelic alternative rock band -- in 2006, lead man Wayne Coyne paraded down 6th Street in a human hamster ball at SXSW. The Lips always deliver the hits, but it's in the spaces in between the well-known pop songs that the band takes audiences on a long, strange trip to the dark side that is well-worth sticking around for.