Austin holds the title of #1 live music capital in the world because of the amount of venues per capita. Of them all, Zilker Park may be the most important nowadays, as it hosts the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, inspired by the long-running and successful PBS show of the same name.
Ed Bailey, vice president of brand development, had the idea to bring to Austin a festival that would expand the television show. Not having the experience for live music festivals, he outsourced the planning to production company C3 Presents, the same company who produces the famed Lollapalooza.
The inaugural festival took place in September, 2002, and 14 years later, it is a globally recognized landmark boasting two consecutive weekends of over 130 artists in rock, indie, country, fold, electronic, and hip hop on eight stages for its near 450,000 attendees, not to mention an art market full of artisans hungry for you to take home their recycled, fair trade, and handcrafted wares; a kid-friendly family area—“Austin Kiddie Limits”—and of course; lots of food and drink.
The experience goes beyond festival as well. ACL Cares, the philanthropic effort of the festival, seeks to “up your karma” by providing opportunities to contribute to local communities in and around Austin. A few of the organizations represented include Austin Music Foundation, which provides free business skills to local musicians; Keep Austin Beautiful provides resources and education to help citizens build more beautiful communities, and Love Hope Strength, which registers marrow donors at concerts around the world through their “Get on the List” campaign.
The lineup for 2016 includes headliners Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, and Mumford & Sons. LCD Soundsystem, Cage the Elephant, the DJ duo known as The Chainsmokers, and Band of Horses are also in the top billing for the two-weekend run. Radiohead and Mumford & Sons are currently promoting new material, and fans look forward to hearing it live.
The experience goes beyond festival as well. ACL Cares, the philanthropic effort of the festival, seeks to “up your karma” by providing opportunities to contribute to local communities in and around Austin.
This year also marks a return of LCD Soundsystem after a high-profile, five-year disbandment, and Cage the Elephant and Band of Horses are also promoting new work. Noteworthy up-and-comers Shane Smith and the Saints perform magical four-part harmony and an impressive mix of rock, country, and Americana and are showcased on the first Sunday.
Singer-Songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae performs on Friday night both weekends, and hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar is the headliner on both Saturdays. Sundays differ slightly in the lineup for the country music slot, with Chris Stapleton taking the spot on the first weekend, and Willie Nelson on second weekend. Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats offer their soulful R&B sound on both Sundays and are another lesser known act with big potential.
Festival goers have an extensive lineup to choose from, whether attending one or both weekends, or just one day. Prepare to learn about political causes, see beautiful local art and people, and most importantly, experience stellar music.
The Austin City Limits Festival runs September 29--October 2nd and October 7th--9th. For all of the information, visit www.aclfestival.com.