Austin City Limits Music Festival is more than a collection of bands invading Zilker Park. It’s an expression of everything fun and vibrant in our great city. While some may dismiss it as an overblown intrusion into Austin’s fall fun, I see it as a celebration. Summer’s over; fall is here; let’s listen to a ton of good music.
As always, the festival’s early hours are chock-full of local bands. To guide and direct you through two weekends of musical madness, we give you this Ultimate Guide to Local Artists at Austin City Limits Music Festival 2017.
Click here for a Spotify playlist featuring every band on this list.
Click here for a video playlist of every Austin band at ACL Fest 2017, courtesy of our friends at Freqsho.
Austin Bands Playing Weekend One: Oct. 6-8
The Wild Now
Friday, Oct. 6 from 11:45-12:30 p.m. @ Miller Lite Stage
ACL Fest 2017 opens with the groovy, introspective indie-pop sound of The Wild Now. On their latest record, “Afterglow,” lead vocalist Taylor Baker and guitarist Drew Walker build a layered tapestry of complex guitar, electronic back-beats, and smoky vocals. Expect a lively and interesting opening to the Zilker Park festivities from this impressive two-some.
Recommended Tracks: “Gold Dust,” “Far Away“
Asleep at the Wheel
Friday, Oct. 6 from 12:30-1:15 p.m. @ Honda Stage
Never seen Asleep at the Wheel play the opening Friday of ACL Fest? Well then, partner, you’ve missed out on an Austin music tradition. Performing since the inception of the festival, Roy Benson and his crew of country swing rebels are the definition of old school Austin. Don’t miss the chance to see a defining band in the ATX music scene do their thing.
Recommended Tracks: “Miles and Miles of Texas,” “The Letter (That Johnny Walker Read),” “Route 66“
Friday, Oct. 6 from 12:30-1:15 p.m. @ Tito’s Handmade Stage
If you’ve seen Asleep at the Wheel before and want to catch someone new, swing by the Tito’s stage to see Carson McHone. With an authentic twang and an ear for sawdust-on-the-floor country swing, McHone feels as “real Austin” as her older contemporaries. Blistering, soulful, and steeped in the roots of Austin music.
Recommended Tracks: “Dram Shop Gal,” “Goodluck Man“
Saturday, Oct. 7 from 11:30-12:15 p.m. @ Miller Lite Stage
One my favorite discoveries from 2016, Mobley has taken the ATX pop scene by storm. As a one-man tour de force of sampler wizardry, multi-musicianship, and piercing vocals, it’s astonishing to see what he does on stage. He’s a performer in the purest sense, so it’ll be fun to see what he brings to the big lights of ACL Fest.
Recommended Tracks: “Tell Me,” “Swoon,” “Torch“
Saturday, Oct. 7 from 12:15-1 p.m. @ Tito’s Handmade Stage
Like Mobley, I’ve typed many a letter about this beloved techno-funk group. Few things wear out the springs on my desk chair like listening to CAPYAC. Taking cues from the likes of Daft Punk and P-Funk, CAPYAC’s sound is one of bouncy fun and afternoon dance parties. They’re also delightfully weird, which is what Austin is all about in the first place. Lace up those lunchtime dancing shoes and make sure you’re front and center for this can’t-miss act.
Recommended Tracks: “Speedracer,” “Creature of Desire,” “Breathe In and Out“
Saturday, Oct. 7 from 12:30-1 p.m. @ Austin Kiddie Limits
If you and your little one stroll by Austin Kiddie Limits around 12:30 on Saturday, do yourself a favor and get giggly with Rattletree. An impressive and invigorating blend of marimba percussion and electronic music, Rattletree has a unique yet familiar sound. As a percussion geek, I can’t help but marvel at these exceptional musicians and their style rooted in African tradition. A perfect fit for Austin Kiddie Limits’ energy and vibe.
Recommended Tracks: “Joy,” “Something in Dande“
Sunday, Oct. 8 from 12:30-1:15 p.m. @ Tito’s Handmade Stage
Dreamy, surreal, and overflowing with delicate nuance, Melat weaves complex musical tapestries. Imagine honey voiced R&B spun through a blender of electronic soundscapes, and you have a portion of what makes this Austinite interesting. The only ATX representative on opening weekend Sunday, Melat demands your attention and attendance during her early afternoon set.
Recommended Tracks: “No Bad News,” “Balance“
Austin Bands Playing Weekend Two: Oct. 13-15
Friday, Oct. 13 from 11:45-12:30 p.m. @ Miller Lite Stage
Retro, spacey, and full of 60’s flavor, Annabelle Chairlegs opens Weekend Two with a hippie friendly sound early festival goers crave. Long lingering guitar leads and easy-does-it drums create sonic waves for vocalist Lindsey Mackin to spin dreams with. A trippy way to open ACL Fest round two.
Recommended Tracks: “Watermelon Summer,” “Pipeline“
Dale and Ray
Friday, Oct. 13 from 12:30-1:15 p.m. @ Honda Stage
Festival attendees who missed Asleep at the Wheel during Weekend One will have another chance at a honky tonk afternoon with Dale and Ray. The legendary two-some of Dale Watson and Ray Benson is as authentic as classic Austin gets. Look for the duo to play a spirited set of classic country jams and tracks from their new self-titled record. Classic Texas!
Recommended Tracks: “Feelin’ Haggard,” “I Wish You Knew“
Friday, Oct. 13 from 12:30-1:15 p.m. @ Tito’s Handmade Stage
It’s a crying shame, but Austin hip hop remains an afterthought in the local music scene. Luckily, with acts like Magna Carda and Zeale gaining notoriety, the genre is on the upswing. Add The Bishops to the list of rising Austin MC’s. Siblings Cara, Troy, and Luv Bishop layer tight lyrics and smooth vocals atop head-snapping electronic backbeats, with style and laser precision. Experience a taste of local hip hop during this early afternoon set.
Recommended Tracks: “Blood Ring“
The Bells of Joy
Saturday, Oct. 14 from 11:15-12 p.m. @ Tito’s Handmade Stage
Believe it or not, if your favorite band has an ounce of soul, R&B, or groove, the sound started with gospel. Practitioners of worship music since the mid-’50s, The Bells of Joy pepper their praise with foot-stomping, rootsy rhythm and sweet, pleasing group harmony. You don’t need to be a believer to appreciate the sound from which modern music sprung, so head over to the Tito’s stage for a spirit-lifting history lesson.
Recommended Tracks: “Leak in This Old Building,” “Let’s Talk About Jesus,” “Have I Told You About My Religion?“
Tomar & the FC’s
Saturday, Oct. 14 from 11:30-12:15 p.m. @ Miller Lite Stage
I feel like I write about Tomar & the FC’s on a monthly basis, but my love for these jump up and jam cats knows no bounds. Overflowing with soul & R&B delivered with James Brown swagger, this local group parties like the best parts of a Baptist church revival. If you’re feeling worn from the previous day’s festivities and need a jump start, this is the set you need to check out.
Recommended Tracks: “Day by Day,” “Foot Down,” “Heart Attack“
Saturday, Oct. 14 from 12:15-1 p.m. @ Tito’s Handmade Stage
Blessed with a powerful, barrel-chested voice, Paul Cauthen is the real deal. An expert of soulful, powerful country birthed from the world of Texas church music, Cauthen is a force to be reckoned with. Add to the mix some mean guitar-picking, and you have a sound worth arriving early for.
Recommended Tracks: “I’ll Be the One,” “Hanging Out On The Line“
Saturday, Oct. 14 from 2:30-3 p.m. @ Austin Kiddie Limits
More fun than a ball pit full of bouncy balls, Kupria Marimba will be lighting up Austin Kiddie Limits once again. Vibrant, high energy, and bursting at the seams with musicianship, Kupria will be a wonderful backdrop to your kid’s playtime.
Recommended Track: “Skokiaan“
Austin Bands Playing Both Weekends of ACL Fest
The Barton Hills Choir
Friday, Oct. 6 from 12:30-1 p.m. @ Austin Kiddie Limits
Saturday, Oct. 14 from 12:30-1 p.m. @ Austin Kiddie Limits
Another mainstay of ACL Fest, the sweet voices and fresh faces of The Barton Hills Choir are guaranteed to make you smile. Comprised of 3rd through 6th graders from Barton Hills Elementary School, these vocal dynamos cover everything from The Beatles to The Flaming Lips. You and your kids will find good vibes, laughs, and genuine inspiration from these ultra-talented grade schoolers.
Recommended Tracks: “Nowhere Man,” “Golden Years”
Friday, Oct. 6 from 1:15-2:15 p.m. @ Home Away Stage
Saturday, Oct. 13 from 12:15-1 p.m. @ Honda Stage
Moody, overpowering, and full of explosive synth, MISSIO skyrocketed to the Austin music scene’s upper tier last year. With over 5 million listens on Spotify, “Middle Fingers” is an anthem of defiance and personal introspection. One of my favorite SXSW 2017 performances, MISSIO simply cannot be missed on a big stage.
Recommended Tracks: “Middle Fingers,” “Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea”
The Band of Heathens
Friday, Oct. 6 from 1:30-2:15 p.m. @ Tito’s Handmade Stage
Friday, Oct. 13 from 1:30-2:15 p.m. @ Tito’s Handmade Stage
Americana roots rock with a whiskey edge, The Band of Heathens has been playing Austin since 2006. Soulful and eclectic in both sound and approach, the Heathens sing personal stories of struggle and redemption. Their new record, “Duende,” is a wonderful blend of ’60s-era folk rock, blues, and traditional guitar-forward rock and roll. Looking forward to watching these locals rock the Tito’s Stage.
Recommended Tracks: “Last Minute Man,” “Hurricane,” “Miss My Life“
The Black Angels
Saturday, Oct. 7 from 5-6 p.m. @ Barton Springs Stage
Saturday, Oct. 14 from 5-6 p.m. @ Barton Springs Stage
Austin’s original purveyors of crunchy, aggressive psychedelia, The Black Angels have had a great 2017. Fresh off a new record, an Austin City Limits taping, and a European tour, the founders of Levitation Fest know how to rock a festival. Combining head trip soundscapes with melody-driven guitar riffs, the Angels have a Jim Morrison sneer with an Iron Butterfly sway. A trippy mid-way point to both Saturdays of ACL Fest.
Recommended Tracks: “Young Man Dead,” “Currency”
Saturday, Oct. 7 from 7-8 p.m. @ Miller Lite Stage
Saturday, Oct. 14 from 7-8 p.m. @ Miller Lite Stage
Long time favorite of the Austin indie music scene, Spoon has garnered nothing but acclaim since their 1994 EP, “Nefarious.” From their mainstream breaking “That’s the Way We Get High” to current release “Hot Thoughts,” Spoon continues to churn out hook-heavy ear candy on a consistent basis. A pair of 7 o’clock sets at ACL Fest is no small feat and these critical darlings have earned every minute.
Recommended Tracks: “Don’t You Evah,” “Inside Out,” “The Way We Get By”
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Which Austin artist are you dying to see at this year’s ACL Music Festival?