Festivals the size of the Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) bring in big names like Drake, Paul McCartney, Radiohead, Janelle Monae and The Chainsmokers. While seeing your favorite star is the obvious draw, there are plenty of local artists worth the trip to Zilker Park.
Texans like Lizzo and Megan Thee Stallion have had breakout years in 2019, so their stages will undoubtedly be packed with new and day-one fans. But neither are overnight sensations; they had to start somewhere. One of the best times to see artists is when they are coming up, before the big budgets and big stages. This allows you to see them when they have the most heart. Along with longtime local favorites like Asleep At the Wheel, Pike & Sutton, and Otis the Destroyer, there are the new kids on the block hoping to make waves this year. Whether you are looking for Pop, R&B, Rock, or a blend of it all, there are Texas artists to see at ACL.
Black Pistol Fire
Friday 10/11 3:00pm – 4:00pm
With a name like Black Pistol Fire it’s not surprising that this Canadian duo rock out every chance they get. Like The Black Keys, they are made up of only a guitarist/vocalist and a drummer, and that’s all they need. Infusing the spirit and sound of the greats from the ‘60s and ‘70s, Kevin McKeown and Eric Owen have impressed critics and fans alike at festivals like Lollapalooza, Governor’s Ball, and Bonnaroo. With their electrifying live performances, they’ve steadily become a can’t miss act, with increasing international notoriety. Now that they’ve made Austin their home, you’ll likely have more opportunities to see them. But don’t wait, their set is sure to steal the show.
Standout tracks: “Bad Blood”, “Run Rabbit Run”, “Storm Cussin’”
Sunday 10/13 12:45pm – 1:30pm
World music usually doesn’t get much presence at festivals like ACL, but Ley Line aren’t like many of the acts at the festivals either. The quartet — made up of Madeleine Froncek, Lydia Froncek, Kate Robberson, and Emilie Basez — makes the kind of music that you imagine is playing while you walk through the wildflowers. Travelling the world, they take the stories and sounds they’ve encountered and meld them with the sounds they grew up on; including West African, Latin American, folk, and blues. A mellow start to your Sunday might be what you need for the last day of the festival.
Standout tracks: “Oxum”, “Apocalypse”
Sunday 10/13 11:45am – 12:30pm
Pronounced “pan-thee-on”, this group embodies the spirit of the indie movement. When no one was giving them a place to play, they put together their own shows. A hip-hop group not unlike fellow locals Brockhampton, PNTHN consists of Texas rappers, producers and Djs. They are like Odd Future with a little bit of UGK and Run the Jewels. After putting out two EPs last year, and touring the country this year, they put out their first album Death Dimension in September.
Standout tracks: “Henny Dreams”, “fooly cooly”
Jane Ellen Bryant
Friday 10/11 1:00pm – 1:45pm
Singers can switch up their sound from one album to the next and totally lose themselves. Jane Ellen Bryant seems to have found herself on her EP, Let Me Be Lost. She ditches the Americana sound from her debut Hourglass, for a fun more edgy sound on the new EP. “Attention” seems like the natural song to grab your attention, but “Too Smooth” is the real standout. With its mellow seductive groove, you’ll find yourself swaying and moving your shoulders. Bryant isn’t quite headliner status yet, but she has real potential and is already winning Austin Music Awards.
Stand out tracks: “Still Can’t Forget You”, “Make Believe”, “Too Smooth”
If you aren’t going to stake out your spot for Childish Gambino, Robyn, Cardi B or Billie Eilish all day, you have a lot of time to fill with artists you might not have heard of. When making your schedules consider checking out these local acts before they become headliners in the next few years.
Shade is a pop culture enthusiast with a love of all things music, especially the 80s. With eclectic music tastes, she’s seen everyone from the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra to George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. One of the highlights of her life is going to Iceland to cover a music festival. If you see her at a concert, see if you can convince her that Backstreet Boys was better than *NSYNC.