Maybe I’m a little bias but Austin City Limits Music Festival is absolutely worth the trip to Austin, TX. Sometimes you just have to take a vacation outside the craziness of the Bay Area and take in a deep breath of fresh air and this is a great place to do that.
If you’re about music, wine, good vibes, and just having fun consider adding this music festival to your must attend list. Austin City Limits Music Festival takes place during the first two weekends of October. Expect bands from all different genres to be performing on 8 stages over three days each weekend. Previous headliners include Mumford & Sons, Willie Nelson, Lionel Richie, Neil Young, The Eagles, and many more.
This year’s line-up included legends and new artists alike. Headlining this year were Paul McCartney & ODESZA (Friday), Metallica & Justice (Saturday), and Arctic Monkeys & Travis Scott (Sunday).
Now you’re probably wondering “is this music festival family friendly?” YES! They have an entire area dedicated to the kids called Austin Kiddie Limits. They had a few areas there to entertain the kids including an entire musical lineup just for them which also happened to include Shaq! Yes, Shaquielle O’Neal rapped the ABC’s for the kids at ACL.
They even had Austin Kiddie Limits merchandise including drawstring bags. Kids with spray painted hair were everywhere and they even had fake tattoos. They unleashed their inner rockstars. Great thing about ACL is children under the age of 10 can enter the festival free with access to Austin Kiddie Limits!
Friday at ACL is a little more on the chill side until the night time comes around. Most people are at work but once that clock strikes 5, you can expect thousands upon thousands of people to show up to see their favorite bands. Friday’s lineup consisted of: Alice Merton, Sir Sly, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, Manchester Orchestra, and Paul McCartney among many others.
Alice Merton started off the festival pretty early. She took the Honda stage at noon yet still had an amazing crowd. Alice is a newer performer who doesn’t lack any talent. Her vocal range blew us away. Of course she ended her set with the first song she ever put out, “No Roots.”
The biggest act of the night was Sir Paul McCartney himself. He opened up his set with The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” and sang a mixture of Beatles and Wings songs among his very own including his latest single “Come On To Me.” The 31 song set lasted a little over two hours long and was worth it for many who traveled long and far to see one of The Beatles in the flesh. Just when you thought his set was over with the huge firework display, he starts singing “Hey Jude.” He then left the stage for a bit and finished an encore with 5 Beatles songs.
As you can probably expect, Saturday is the busiest day of the entire festival. It’s the first day to sell out when they start selling individual day tickets. This year was no different because the acts on Saturday included: Lucie Silvas, DISTURBED, Lil Wayne, Metallica, and many more.
Lucie Silvas is an Australian singer who moved to Nashville! She’s got a little bit of an Americana country vibe but honestly it’s really hard to give her style of music a label.
She played the BMI stage which is the stage for rising stars. Lucie had quite the fan-base. Her husband is part of the country-duo Brothers Osborne who played ACL Fest last year and brought her on stage for a few songs. She also just released a new album.
What struck most people was her Jackson 5 cover. Her vocal range and passion in the song had everyone mind blown.
Hard rock band, Disturbed began their set with “Are You Ready” the first single off their new album, Evolution, set to be released this Friday. They played hit after hit then slowed it down a bit with their latest release, “A Reason to Fight.” David Draiman, front-man of the band, began a speech about mental health awareness. He expressed that he was tired of losing friends to demons such as addiction and depression. He talked about Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell and how much he missed them. Draiman then urged those in the crowd to seek help if they were fighting those same demons.
Metallica closed out the second day of ACL with a two hour set beginning with “Hardwired.” ACL Festival goers were excited to see them perform. One in three people at ACL were sporting Metallica shirts (that’s just a guess but there were Metallica shirts EVERYWHERE). Earlier in the day, I spotted a man walking to Zilker Park carrying a giant Metallica sign. He yelled in excitement “METALLICA TONIGHT WOOOOOOO!” as he made his way to the festival.
— ACL Festival (@aclfestival) October 13, 2018
The American Express stage was surrounded by fans of the band, young and old alike. Looking around the stage and seeing grandparents, parents and kids all enjoying the music makes you realize that music brings people together.
Metallica entertained the crowd with the hits from “Seek and Destroy,” “One,” and “Master of Puppets.” They also wanted to pay tribute to Willie Nelson in his home by singing a little “Whiskey River.”
Of course it wouldn’t be a Metallica show without “Enter Sandman.” That was their final song immediately followed by an incredible firework display.
Sunday was quite the day at Zilker Park. It was extremely humid from the thunderstorm that rolled through the night previously. Sunday’s lineup absolutely did not disappoint. It included Elle King, X-Ambassadors, Shawn Mendes, Tinashe, and Arctic Monkeys among others.
Elle King put on an amazingly soulful performance. She’s witty and knew how to entertain the crowd! She had an hour long set which concluded with her hit single “Exes and Ohs”.
I’ve never seen such a huge crowd for a day act until Sunday. Shawn Mendes brought so many people together for his performance Sunday afternoon. Where ever you looked in the crowd you saw people singing along to his ballads. Shawn definitely hit us all in the feels.
Seriously, everyone was singing along and even a few tears were shed. Who broke Shawn’s heart? I want to thank them because without that heart break we wouldn’t have such fantastic music from him.
Other than the amazing music that goes on throughout the festival, ACL also has some amazing FOOD. Now in Texas, we really like to eat. BBQ, tacos, tamales, frozen bananas, cookies…you name it, it’s probably at ACL.
A crowd favorite is The Mighty Cone. Essentially it’s a cone with a flour tortilla filled with fried avocado, fried shrimp, fried chicken, cole slaw and some sort of delicious sauce.
Brisket is a Texas staple. Did you even visit Texas if you don’t eat some brisket? All this brisket sandwich needed was a side of potato salad, rice and beans. That’s how we BBQ in my family. Thanks to Micklethwait Craft Meats for this declicious sandwich!
— Karina✌🏼️🎙🎶📻 (@KarinaOnAir) October 16, 2018
Don’t worry, if you’re vegan or vegetarian they have plenty of options for you as well. To see all the food options at ACL click here.
We haven’t even gotten to talking about the desserts just yet. How does a cookie sandwich sound? Tiff’s Treats is an Austin staple. Warm delicious cookies that can be delivered right to your doorstep. That’s the dream, right? It’s perfection.
How about a chocolate dipped frozen banana to cool you off from the Texas heat? You can get a halfsie or a wholsie from Bananarchy. Think about everything you could possibly want on a frozen banana and they probably have it. This everything banana had chocolate, peanuts, graham crackers, oreos, and toffee. SO GOOD.
— Karina✌🏼️🎙🎶📻 (@KarinaOnAir) October 16, 2018
Now that you’ve read all that and you really want to go you’re probably thinking “this festival has to be crazy expensive, right?” WRONG. Early bird general admission wristbands are roughly $235…for three days of music and an amazing experience, I’d say that’s worth it. I mean for a single-day ticket you’ll end up paying $100 so might as well get a three day pass for a little over double, right? Downside to that is you won’t know the lineup. After the lineup is released they do bring up the price a bit but not by much.
Zilker Park is located just a few blocks from Downtown Austin with easy access to the festival. A free shuttle ride, walk or bike ride can get you to the festival quickest. If Austin is on your bucket list for destinations, make it happen during ACL. The music, food, and atmosphere are completely worth it. I hope to see you there next year!