It's easy to be drawn to the biggest names at the top of any festival lineup, but when there are eight fully-fledged headliners rather than the usual three or four, you'd be even more forgiven for getting distracted.
The latest instalment of Texan festival giant Austin City Limits, which kicks off this Friday for the first of two consecutive weekends, sees Guns N' Roses, Mumford & Sons, Childish Gambino, The Cure, Billie Eilish, Tame Impala, Cardi B and Robyn top the bill, the last two performing a weekend each respectively. So it's fair to say there's no shortage of headline talent.
As such, we thought we'd shine a light on some of the smaller names that might get lost among the mass of the main program. It also seemed a little weird to pick out people like ROSALÍA, James Blake or Kaytranada, each perfectly capable of performing on the biggest stages and headlining festivals in their own right. So instead, we looked further down still, for a handful of acts that warrant your attention.
In what has been a remarkably strong year of releases from women in the world of indie folk and art pop – Stella Donnelly, Weyes Blood, Lana del Rey, Sharon Van Etten, Cate Le Bon, Aldous Harding, Marika Hackman, Florist, Jenny Lewis and more releasing great records – one of the genuine standouts has been Julia Jacklin's second album Crushing.
The Aussie singer-songwriter's exploration of heartbreak manages to balance tragedy and humour in its engaging lyrical content, and the live performances are, as you'd expect, intimate and arresting.
There genuinely aren't many live acts that can generate the same level of energy as Florida rapper Denzel Curry. Whatever track he is performing from his diverse back catalogue – replete with musical cues ranging from SoundCloud rap, punk and nu-metal, Southern hip hop, trap and more – he is a master of whipping crowds into a breathless frenzy.
Some of the subtlety and lyrical content of the recorded versions might be surrendered, but man it's good fun.
The Comet Is Coming
While large swathes of London's vibrant and exciting jazz scene, including Shabaka Hutchings' critically acclaimed trio Sons of Kemet, owe an immeasurable debt to the sounds of Africa and Afrobeat, the saxophonist's other main musical project The Comet Is Coming seemingly operate on another planet entirely.
Fusing psychedelic and space rock with jazz and electronic music, the trio are never afraid of taking things cosmic – their latest full-length record featuring tracks called 'Super Zodiac' and 'Astral Flying' – and it's in the enthralling live performances that these compositions really come into their own.
Despite being just 19 years old, Jamaican star Koffee is one of the leading lights in the new generation of reggae artists, fusing traditional sounds with modern elements of dancehall, hip hop, R&B and more. With the release of her debut EP Rapture she has earned fans across the globe – the title track a genuine contender for song of the summer/year, and her performance of it on popular YouTube channel 'Colors' already notching up more than 5 million views in a matter of months.
On stage, she has an infectious energy and self-confidence that she balances perfectly with her obvious humility. All with the support of a killer live band.
Alabama Shakes' rise to stardom seems like an awfully long time ago now, their soulful sounds capturing the hearts of fans on both sides of the Atlantic (and beyond) in the first half of this decade. And while they're still an ongoing concern, it is the solo output of unmistakable frontwoman Brittany Howard that is now earning critical acclaim.
Released toward the end of September, Jaime – dedicated to and named in honour of her sadly deceased sister – is Howard's solo debut; a deeply soulful, personal, and musically expansive record that we can't wait to see performed live.
For the full lineup, and for more information about the festival, head to our Austin City Limits 2019 guide