Friday Top 5: Best ACL Headliners of All Time

Follow the jump for a list of my Top 5 ACL Headliners of all time.


5. The White Stripes Muse ‘07

These guys made my Top 5 Trio list, and they have placed yet again. Muse was not extremely well known in the U.S. at the time, and they wasted no time winning over new fans and made the crowd forget that the White Stripes were a no-show. They played their hits along with a hearty sampling from their past four albums. Some reviews say they had the best use of the video screens, coolest drum riser, and best encore (which involved playing a recording of a JFK speech). They had a brilliant and quite effective light show that pleased thousands of festival goers, previous fans or not.


4. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ‘09

These guys capped off the day with a massive mob of a crowd, while the others scrounged around Kings of Leon’s mediocre performance. Front lady Karen O took the stage in a kimono-type dress adorned with bizarre, stylized eyes. She rocked new and old tracks with multiple costume changes, charging in front of a glittery spiral and giant eyeball as her stage background.


3. The Arcade Fire ‘07

Lively as always, this talented troupe definitely brought it on strong as the daylight drew to an end. Following their Neon Bible release, they performed with recordings of televangelists on the display screens, making it somewhat of a religious experience. They were true to both their albums, and played a very moving set. These guys don’t need flashy lights to put on a good performance.


2. Pixies ‘04

For it’s third year, ACL did the right thing booking these guys, being the festival’s first-ever sold-out day. The performance pleased Pixie fans from all over and rocked liked it was ’91 all over again. It’s not every day that you can catch a band like this, so it was a definite treat to see these guys in the flesh after following their music for years.


1. Bjork ‘07

You know to expect the furthest from an average performance when you hear her name. Adorned with neon makeup and spider webs shooting from her hands, she put on a wild and exhilarating show to remember in 2007. The lights, the insane screen displays, flashing strobes and the flaming speakers. That’s right, the music was so loud that the back speaker caught on fire and the entire audience was yelling, “FIRE FIRE FIRE!” A friend described her as a frolicking big kid playing on stage, which is a great evaluation.



  • You know who won’t make it? The Strokes 2010. Stupid band played for less than an hour.

  • Hey nathan, go cry in the corner. Pouty little baby. Maybe if you weren’t so busy looking at your watch, you would of enjoyed yourself.

  • Mal-I looked at my watch because, well, Wednesday they were late. Friday, they were late, and when it was done, I looked at my watch to see the plans for the night, as one is ought to do. Here’s the thing. They sounded great, but they weren’t a great headliner, which is what the post is about. I don’t like Muse, but I heard they played beyond their 130 slot time. That’s what you do when you’re a headliner. I long for the days when the Strokes didn’t do it for the money, like back when I first saw them in 01, when they were longing to be loved, not longing to be fed.

  • back when I saw The Strokes in 1997, before the band was even formed, they were all about the love…

  • totally agree with the Muse 07/Arcade Fire 07.

    Problem was, they both happened at the same time (thanks Meg White). Running across Zilker Park to catch the encore of Muse was well worth the sprint.

  • those who weren’t too cool for school and went to coldplay enjoyed it. this was before pitchfork said it was ok to do so…

    i wasn’t too cool, i was just recovering from the heat.

  • Nathan, it’s all great when people say it’s not all about the money, but lets face it. Why do we work? To make money. Bands work to make money. All young bands say it’s not about the mighty dollar, but dreams of big money (and dating models, just ask Hammond haha) is what drives them. It’s cool you got to see them way back then. I didn’t get to first see them until 03, after ROF came out and even then the sets were less than an hour. Again, short songs + two albums= short set. Anyways, it’s cool. We’re all entitled to our opinions. I respect yours. We just don’t agree.

  • I don’t know. I’m a teacher, so I definitely don’t work for the money. But, I’m cool with agreeing to disagree, as that’s what makes talking about music fun for us all.

  • lest we forget… Manu Chao 2008

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