Sure, everyone is stoked about Drake. But what about all the acts who aren’t Drake? And the bands who aren’t even fronted by dudes at all? To celebrate the badassery and often-overlooked talent of lady vocalists, we’ve compiled your quintessential guide to less-than-obvious, female-fronted acts to see this weekend at Austin City Limits Music Festival.
By Kris Seavers
One of the best kept secrets of the West Coast, Colombian-born Kali Uchis blends Motown, R&B and pop into what she calls “lowrider soul,” influenced by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and M.I.A. Between her retro bubblegum aesthetic, her female-empowering lyrics and her collaborations with Tyler, the Creator and Snoop Dogg, it might not be long before Uchis grows to headliner level. Until then, catch her set Sunday at the Tito’s Handmade Vodka stage, and download her extended play “Por Vida” for free on her website.
London-natives Wolf Alice, led by vocalist and guitarist Ellie Rowsell, released their first full-length album “My Love is Cool” this year. Their angst-ridden single “Moaning Lisa Smile” reached the top 10 of the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. Part grunge, part pop, the group’s appeal reaches beyond coming-of-age indie rock. Let Roswell’s dreamy voice, backed by heavy guitar and bass, sing you into twilight Friday evening at the Austin Ventures stage.
You might not go to ACL to hear the blues, but you should make an exception for Rhiannon Giddens. A blues/folk/country/gospel vocal powerhouse, Giddens won a Grammy Award in 2010 for her work with Carolina Chocolate Drops and rose to solo fame at the folk revival concert that inspired the film “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Her soulful interpretations of country classics from her album “Tomorrow is My Turn” are not to be missed—you can hear them Friday night at the Tito’s Handmade Vodka stage.
In the Valley Below
As the legend goes, vocalist/keyboardist Angela Gail Mattson and vocalist/guitarist Jeffrey Jacob Mendel had the idea to make music together at South By Southwest. Their debut album “The Belt” offers both psychedelic and pop-driven tracks, and their single “Peaches” has been remixed by everyone from Passion Pit to Kele of Bloc Party fame. See In the Valley Below reachin’ for the sweetest peaches Saturday at the HomeAway stage.
Of Monsters and Men
An indie folk fan favorite since their debut “My Head is an Animal,” Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men released their sophomore album “Crystals” this year and will grace the Samsung stage on Sunday. Fronted by lead singer and guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, the band’s upbeat anthems and introspective lyrics are the perfect precursor to headliners Florence and the Machine or The Weeknd.
Sad the festival is over? Sadder because you didn’t go at all? Live or relive the experience with our Spotify playlist “Female Voices at ACL.”