Austin City Limits is about to roll out another weekend of music, food and everything else quintessentially Austin. To both prepare this weekend’s lucky festivalgoers and satisfy my personal nostalgia, here’s my recap of ACL Weekend One.

Day 1:

Let’s set the stage: Zilker Park, Austin, TX. Weather was flawless, anticipations were high. After running around Austin for the morning, I made it into the festival and made the rounds of the park before heading to the Strumbellas. Not knowing a lot about this band, I figured it would just be someone to see to start off the day. However, I was actually really impressed by them – their line up was fun and had lots of people dancing, and they finished with their popular song “Spirits.”


Up next was Blue October. Now, let me tell you, I was pumped for this show. I’ve been a big Blue October fan since I was a mere child in the early 2000’s, and this was the first time I was able to see them live. They lived up to my expectations, playing some of their hits like “Into the Ocean” and “Hate Me.” They didn’t play some of my favorites, including “Congratulations” and “My Never,” but the set was still such a nostalgic throwback that I was jamming the entire time.

Then we walked the short distance to St. Lucia, which was another great show. I saw them at Bonnaroo this summer, so I knew how fun and upbeat their music was. We were dancing around and generally having a great time while they played songs like “All Eyes On You” and “Dancing on Glass.” I really recommend St. Lucia – they have the vibes of an alternative band while maintaining the fun spirit of a pop act. Generally, I would say they’re a crowd pleaser and I’ve really enjoyed seeing them both times.

St. Lucia

The next band was interesting, to say the least. We headed to Die Antwoord, which was one of the stranger experiences I had at ACL. If you’re not familiar with the band, let me catch you up: hailing from Cape Town, the group capitalizes on a counterculture movement from South Africa known as “zef.” Essentially, they present themselves as “modern and trashy,” which makes for quite the musical experience. I knew absolutely nothing about this group upon seeing them, and so I was very intrigued the entire set. Check out their songs “Ugly Boy” and “I Fink U Freeky” if your’e interested in an odd musical experience.

Die Antwoord

Then we had a crisis of interest. Band of Horses and Flume were conflicting, so we had to compromise and see some of both. We caught the beginning of Band of Horses, who were solid performers as always. Songs we caught were “Is There a Ghost” and “No One’s Gonna Love You,” among others. Then we booked it to Flume, which was a really fun performance. I haven’t followed Flume as a performer religiously, but I definitely know enough to jam to songs like “Never Be Like You” and “Say It.” I was really impressed with the performance overall. ACL was definitely more EDM-heavy this year, and I enjoyed experiencing the overall presence of those performers. I will say that I was a little disappointed that Flume didn’t mix things up a little more – instead, he played his songs pretty much exactly as they appear online.


Then we headed to Major Lazer, another fun performance to which you can dance and just enjoy yourself. At this point in the night, it was fun to just let loose and listen to the music and the various beats. Major Lazer performed big songs like “Lean On” and “Cold Water,” all of which were big hits. They also played remixes of songs like “This is What You Came For.”

Major Lazer

We ended the night with the last bit of Radiohead’s set, catching hits like “Nude” and “Karma Police.”


I’d like to take this moment to give a big shout out to the rideshare services that replaced the likes of Uber and Lyft in Austin. Without those, I’m sure a lot of people would have made bad decisions or would have been stranded, so keep doing good things Austin.

Day 2:

Up first on Saturday was Jack Garratt. I didn’t know much about this man, but he is a really dope artist. This British man does it all himself – he plays every instrument, sings, and makes a lot of really interesting sounds with his music. He has so much energy while performing that you can’t help but be into it. He played songs like “Weathered” and even covered the theme song to the Fresh Prine of Bel Air.

Jack Garratt

Then we headed to Catfish and the Bottlemen, another band I’d seen at Bonnaroo at some point. This is the epitome of the type of band that’s big in Nashville (my hometown), so I was naturally really excited to see them. With songs like “Kathleen” and “Tyrants,” the British band kept the crowd excited with their almost Kooks-esque style.

Then we positioned ourselves for a good spot for Cage the Elephant. Another band that’s big in Nashville (and that lives in Nashville), Cage the Elephant is one of my all-time favorite artists. If you’ve never seen them live, I highly recommend it. They put on such a high-energy show and never stop moving the entire time they’re on stage. They played their big ones like “Come a Little Closer” and “Cigarette Daydreams,” and they were a perfect way to celebrate the sunset.

Cage the Elephant

Up next was The Chainsmokers. I saw them this summer at Bonnaroo and wasn’t impressed, but since then they released the jam “Closer” which has been my not-so guilty pleasure on repeat for the past three months. Mainly I just wanted to see that song live, but they put on a better performance than I remembered from this summer. They played remixes of their songs, including my fave “Closer” and their new song “All We Know.”

The Chainsmokers

Then we headed to Kygo, which some thought was the best performance of the weekend. One of the cooler mixes he played was Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.” He also played songs like “Stole the Show” and “Stay.”


Last up for the night was Kendrick Lamar. The Saturday night headliner is always a good time, and Kendrick lived up to the spot. The Samsung stage was packed for songs like “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Swimming Pools,” ending with “A.D.H.D.”

Kendrick Lamar

Big props to the chicken tenders I consumed after Kendrick.

Day 3:

Last day, big day. We started off our last day at Zilker with Wild Child, a band native to Austin. I had seen Wild Child last year in Dallas, and so it was a welcome reunion with their ironically upbeat songs with poignantly sad lyrics. They have an awesome live band, including a lead singer who plays violin during the set. With songs like “Silly Things” and “Pillow Talk,” they made a hot day seem a lot more enjoyable.

Wild Child

We had a couple hours before we had someone we wanted to see, so this was our designated day to eat as much food as we possibly could (including a grilled cheese with macaroni and cheese and a fantastic snow cone).

Next up was Local Natives. I’ve always been a casual fan of this band, but had never seen them live. I was honestly really surprised by how much I liked them, especially when they really turned up at the end of their set and went crazy. They played songs like “Dark Days” and “Past Lives,” keeping the crowd interested the whole time.

Local Natives

Then we went to St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Let me tell you, this was not what I expected at all. I’ve listened to them for a while, and with their soulful vocals I expected a band demographic similar to Alabama Shakes. When a white man from Birmingham turned out to be the powerhouse behind those vocals, I was shocked. And he wasn’t a tame vocalist either, considering at points he was legitimately climbing underneath the stage structure. With lots of live instrumentals like trumpets, the band really performed well, playing songs like “Sanctify” and “Burning Rome.”

Chris Stapleton was up next. I’m not generally a fan of the country genre, but Chris’ bluegrass twang really does it for me. He was a perfect act to grab a bite to eat and sit in the back while jamming out. The highlights for me were his covers, “You Are My Sunshine” and his famous “Tennessee Whiskey” cover.

Chris Stapleton

Our second to last act of the festival was Young the Giant. With a lead singer decked out in a bright red jumpsuit, you knew to have high expectations from this show. Everyone was really high strung considering ACL was wrapping up, and Young the Giant was a good way to unwind and let some steam off. They played songs like “Apartment,” “Cough Syrup,” and finished with their hit “My Body.”

Last but certainly not least, we hit up Mumford and Sons. If you’ve never seen this band live, you need to. I have never seen a band leave so much on the stage, and Marcus Mumford simply kills it in all aspects. I lost my voice completely singing along to their over 20 song setlist, including the likes of “White Blank Page,” “Little Lion Man,” “Awake My Soul,” a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire,” and finally, “The Wolf.” They were a perfect band to close out the show, and it was amazing to see how many people turned out for their set.

Mumford and Sons

ACL was, to put it simply, great. I really enjoyed the variety in the lineup this year, and it was really fun to see artists I’ve seen before to watch their development and growth. For all those heading out to Weekend Two, enjoy yourselves and bask in the glory of Zilker!