Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Austin City Limits Music Festival Weekend 2 Day 1 at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas on October 8, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Austin City Limits is a yearly music festival that takes place at Zilker Park in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Since its start in 2002, ACL has grown to feature over 8 stages and 130 bands. After a rather soggy weekend one, weekend two of ACL privileged festival-goers with cooperative and mild weather.

There was an impressive variety of food, with everything from curry and falafel to tamales and ice cream. Many local Austin favorites were featured in this year’s food lineup: locally sourced Tiny Pies, Austin’s Pizza, Amy’s Ice Creams, Black’s BBQ, Blenders & Bowls, and Tiff’s Treats, to name a few.

There were plenty of photo ops for festival-goers to pose in front of. First and foremost were two colorful arrays of rainbow flags, both of which housed a constant crowd of photographers and impromptu models. Another popular attraction was the giant photo frame stamped atop with #ACLFEST. It offered a picture-perfect photo with the Austin skyline visible in the background. As always, the iconic oak tree was full of music-lovers seeking shelter from the scorching sun.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka boasted a unique photo backdrop of hundreds of empty vodka bottles with bougie, golden disco balls overhead. The Tito’s tent also featured a giant peg board with items such as bandanas and sunglasses. Players had the opportunity to drop a large chip through the maze of pegs, and collect whatever prize it landed on at the bottom. The sky was essentially free of clouds on Sunday, so both the bandanas and sunglasses were an excellent method to combat the blazing sun. Last but not least: an iconic El Arroyo sign with clever messages that changed throughout the day.

ACL Fest goes to extreme lengths to ensure the comfort of its attendees. The five touch-free hydration stations were efficient, sanitary, and environmentally friendly. There was hardly ever a line, and those who refilled their reusable water containers were rewarded with cool mist from a fan. Two T-Mobile charging stations offered peace of mind to people whose phone batteries were quickly draining from filming and taking photos in the Texas heat, but didn’t have access to a portable charger. Users chose a password and locked their electronics in a secure cubby while their devices charged. Best of all, this service was offered at no cost.

Hand sanitizing stations were scattered throughout the festival grounds, as well as an abundance of eye-catching trash cans and recycling bins that made it easy to keep Zilker clean. As an additional incentive, ACL Fest handed out green bags sporting three guitars in the formation of a recycling sign that read “Rock & Recycle”. Concert-goers were encouraged to collect recyclable materials, such as empty cans and bottles. If they managed to fill the entire bag, it could be exchanged for a unique, limited-edition shirt featuring designs by a local artist.

The medical staff was amazingly attentive and quick to respond to those who needed medical attention. Security staff helped to ensure comfort and safety of festival-goers by tossing boxed water into the crowd between performers and in the midst of long shows. Free Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines, including 3rd dose boosters, were offered near the medical tent. Additional care was also offered, such as B-12 shots and IV therapy for $49 and $99 respectively. The restrooms looked like actual toilets, offering a much more pleasant bathroom experience in comparison to the traditional port-a-potties found at most festivals. A small bodega conveniently offered essentials such as tissues, bug repellent, ear plugs, medicine, and fresh fruit.

The Bonus Tracks stage featured a unique variety of events, such as intense dance workouts and in-depth reviews of the best tacos throughout the state of Texas. Austin-born fitness instructor, Melody DanceFit, encouraged festival-goers to “stop putting so much pressure on yourself to be perfect, and just have fun!” She motivated those at her class to practice self-acceptance, love and inner peace. In addition to many burned calories, there was also plenty of clapping, laughing, and joy.


Erykah Badu

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Erykah Badu performing on the Miller Lite stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 8, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Influenced by R&B, 1970s soul, and 1980s hip hop, Badu became associated with the neo soul subgenre in the 1990s and 2000s along with artists such as D'Angelo and Maxwell. She has been called the Queen of Neo soul. Badu's career began after she opened a show for D'Angelo in 1994 in Fort Worth; record label executive Kedar Massenburg was highly impressed with her performance and signed her to Kedar Entertainment.

Badu's voice has been compared to jazz singer Billie Holiday and more modern soulstress Ladi6. Early in her career, Badu was recognizable for her eccentric style, which often included wearing very large and colorful headwraps. She was a core member of the Soulquarians. As an actress, she has played a number of supporting roles in movies including Blues Brothers 2000, The Cider House Rules and House of D. She also has appeared in the documentaries Before the Music Dies and The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975.
She put on a show! Erykah Badu did not disappoint. She came out and had amazing stage presence and her vocals were unmatched. She gave a show and then some!

This show was simply amazing. Erykah Badu is super talented and was lively throughout.

Erykah Badu put on an amazing concert. She put on an amazing event and kept the crowd jumping. I was definitely impressed.

Epic, amazing, a whole vibe! Those Nubian Queens not only blessed us with their music, they blessed us with their love, their energy, their passion, their ambiance, their love and respect for each other. I will never forget last night. Etched forever in my mind.


Megan Thee Stallion

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Megan Thee Stallion performing on the Honda stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 8, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Megan Thee Stallion first garnered attention when videos of her freestyling became popular on social media platforms such as Instagram. Her critically acclaimed debut studio album, Good News (2020); all of which peaked in the top 10 of the Billboard 200. Her single "Savage Remix" featuring Beyoncé, and her feature on Cardi B's single "WAP" were her first and second number ones on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, with the latter providing Megan with her first number one in several other countries and the Billboard Global 200.

Throughout her career, Megan Thee Stallion has received several accolades, including six BET Awards, five BET Hip Hop Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, a Billboard Women in Music Award, and three Grammy Awards. At the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, she became the second female rapper to win Best New Artist, after Lauryn Hill in 1999. In 2020, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world on their annual list.
The best! She had the crowd hyped the whole time at ACL. Loved her, she’s a must see!

It was amazing! Megan is so energetic and has great voice control! She sounds just like her album! She is also so nice to her fans.

Amazing. Megan Thee Stallion is a great performer. She brought fans on stage. It was lit and awesome! The concert was amazing! She’s such a great performer, this was such an amazing concert.

I had a great time. She definitely entertained her crowd and didn’t just walk back & forth rapping her songs. Megan put on a show! I would definitely go again and again. I love me some Megan Thee Stallion.


Leann Rimes

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Leann Rimes performing on the T-Mobile stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 8, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

LeAnn Rimes rose to stardom at age 13 following the release of her version of the Bill Mack song "Blue", becoming the youngest country music star since Tanya Tucker in 1972. Rimes made her breakthrough into country music in 1996 with her debut album, Blue, which reached No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart and was certified multi-platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The album's eponymous lead single, "Blue", became a Top 10 hit, and Rimes gained national acclaim for her similarity to Patsy Cline's vocal style. When she released her second studio album in 1997, You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs, she moved towards country pop material, which set the trend for a string of albums released into the next decade. Rimes has won many awards, including two Grammys (both in 1997 for New Artist & Best Country Female Vocal Performance), three ACMs, a CMA, 12 Billboard Music Awards, and one American Music award.
Wonderful interaction with the audience. Amazing to hear in person. Relaxed and personable, felt like we got to know her just a little.

She does a great show, truly loves her fans and was such a sweetheart to the crowd.

Incredible as always, I’ve seen her a ton of times and she always exceeds my expectations. I’ll be sure to attend every concert I can when she’s nearby and hopefully some more that are a little farther away.

Best ever! I’ve seen her in concert and this was the best one yet! She interacted with crowd, danced, and seemed so engaged and happy! Her voice is one of a kind and seems to improve through the years! It was a super great concert! Could listen to her forever! Beautiful person with beautiful voice! Enjoyed her band very much! Very talented!

Perfection! LeAnn is the real deal. Without auto-tune, she puts her voice front and center and delivers every time. Good mix of her hits, some album tracks, and her exquisite covers. Even if you’re a casual fan, you owe it to yourself to see her live. An evening of goosebumps.


Disko Cowboy

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Disko Cowboy performing on the Tito's stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 8, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Disko Cowboy is a critically acclaimed DJ, producer and founder/creative director of Vinyl Ranch. The Houston-based artist popped onto the national radar in 2008 with the release of the open format mixtape, "Life Of The Party," which showcased his signature style of DJing and production. The seamless mix featured 6 exclusive Wrangler remixes and was called a "goldmine" of dance floor-friendly indie rock, hip-hop and electronic music by Rolling Stone.

Selections from his catalog have been featured by Sirius XMU, Clear Channel, BBC Radio 1, USA Today, East Village Radio, HypeM, Mad Decent, Vibe, BET, MTV, NME Mag, Paste Magazine and nearly every major music media institution on the web. Tracks have been charted by dance and hip-hop taste makers such Diplo, Cee Lo Green, Hood Internet, Matt & Kim, DJ Whoo Kid, Cosmo Baker, Donald Glaude, Tiesto and DJ Jazzy Jeff.


Machine Gun Kelly

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Machine Gun Kelly performing on the Honda stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 8, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Machine Gun Kelly (abbreviated as MGK) has released five studio albums throughout his career and is noted for his compositional blending of contemporary and alternative hip hop with rock. As an actor, Baker made his film debut in the 2014 romantic drama Beyond the Lights. He has also appeared in several other films and had a recurring role on the Showtime series Roadies in 2016.

He embarked on a musical career as a teenager, releasing a mixtape in 2006. He went on to release four more mixtapes. Baker then secured a recording contract with Bad Boy and Interscope Records. His major label debut album, Lace Up, was released to positive response from critics. The record contained the singles "Wild Boy", "Invincible", "Stereo", and "Hold On (Shut Up)", and debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart; it was later confirmed to have sold more than 178,000 copies. He fifth studio album "Tickets To My Downfall" departs rap in favor of a pop punk style.
Unforgettable! This was hands down the best concert I have been too. MGK performed amazing and was very in touch with the crowd. he had an amazing speech to say and moved around the whole venue to make sure he saw the whole audience. Very impressed, hands down unforgettable!

Machine Gun Kelly always puts on a dope ass show! I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to see him again!

It was the best experience of my life. So much positive energy.

Amazing! Most epic night ever. Every single time I've shared space with Colson Baker, it has been the greatest hours of my life. MGK puts on a show that makes you feel like you're part of something that matters, that makes a difference. I know it definitely did to me.


Hinds

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Hinds performing on the VBRO stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 8, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

All-female Spanish garage rockers Hinds have become indie darlings on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to their deliciously fuzzed-out sound, cheeky lyrics, and exuberant live performances. In concert the band is a whirlwind of guitar-driven energy, tearing through playful tunes with riot grrrl verve while they trade spunky vocal oohs and ahhs.

Happy fans get all caught up in their youthful spirit, bopping around to the catchy guitar riffs and driving rhythms of infectious garage nuggets like “Garden” and “Bamboo”. Hinds has performed their boisterous sets for ticket buyers at festivals like SxSW ,Glastonbury, and Austin City Limits Music Festival, and they amass new fans every time they kick out their catchy lo-fi jams in concert.

They have released three albums, one compilation LP and four singles. Hinds are considered a garage rock, garage pop and lo-fi band, and have been compared to a blend of rock bands such as Velvet Underground, The Pastels, and C86-like bands, contemporary garage rock and 1960s groups with a pop sound, although they have mentioned Black Lips, Ty Segall, The Parrots, The Strokes, The Vaccines, and Mac DeMarco as their main influences.
Hinds are literally the most fun band going right now. They bring an infectious joy to every performance. Fun, simple rock n roll with dueling vocals. Just a great time all around!

Loved it, so much fun. Phenomenal band, magnificent show and performance.

Passion energy joy and humor on stage. Great to see live.

Fun show! The band really loved performing and interacting with the crowd.


Jxdn

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Jxdn performing on the Honda stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 8, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Rockstars may look and sound different from generation-to-generation, but the attitude remains the same. Defying any rules, jxdn authentically bridges subcultures, exuding reckless charm and boundless ambition to position himself as a rockstar for the new generation. Generating 15 million streams within a month on his self-released debut song “Comatose,” he became the first artist signed to Travis Barker’s DTA Records. jxdn’s label debut single “Angels & Demons” notched the top spot on the iTunes Alternative Chart upon release and debuted at #6 on the Billboard Hot Rock Chart, allowing the 19-year-old genre breaker to present his signature style and a glimpse of what’s to come on his forthcoming full-length debut.

He developed a presence online through a consistent stream of engaging and clever content. He quietly exploded on Tik Tok, attracting 5.9 million followers and 202.3 million likes. He utilized it as a platform to introduce his voice. Packing up and heading to LA, he holed up in the infamous “Sway House” alongside a crew of rowdy influencers, and finally dove head first into his own artistry. Catching an arena show by the late Juice WRLD would be the tipping point.

He pursued the dream full force with the single “Comatose.” The track caught fire, racking up over 15 million streams in a month and caught the ear of Barker’s son Landon Asher. He shared “Comatose” with his dad just as Russell Ali, the track’s producer and a friend of Barker’s, sent it to him too. A further coincidence, Ali used a Travis Barker Splice Drum sample pack for all of the song’s drums. Blown away, Barker signed jxdn to DTA. Now, the next chapter is ignited with the single “Angels & Demons,” co-produced and powered by drums from the legendary label founder himself.
Awesome! Amazing time. Jxdn was full of energy and had the crowd engaged the whole time. I was really impressed. I left saying wow they might have been even better in person. Hope to continue to hear more music in the future like on a movie soundtrack!

Best night of my life.

It was so much fun. I went with my bestfriend and we had the best time. Jaden is such an incredible performer and I would love to see him again.

The best show I’ve ever been to. Overall the energy of the show was absolutely amazing, everyone was having a good time. Jaden puts on such a good show.

Best day ever! Concert was incredible, his stage presence is absolutely amazing!

I love every moment of it. He was best singer and I had great time.


Maggie Rose

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Maggie Rose performing on the T-Mobile stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 8, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Maggie Rose has been a lifelong singer but really began performing at age 16 frequently with The B Street Band, a Bruce Springsteen tribute band. She signed with Universal Republic out of New York and released a well-received cover of Kings of Leon's “Use Somebody”. A year later, she signed to R&J Records where her first release "Mississippi's Crying", entered the Hot Country Songs charts. Her music video "Maybe Tonight" debuted in Great American Country's Top 20 Country Countdown videos at No. 1, a first for an independent artist.

Rose performed at Bonnaroo and the Chevy Breakout Stage at the CMA Fest and was deemed a “Best of CMA Fest” and “Best Hippie Soul” performance. Her performance at the Bonnaroo Art and Music Festival was a deemed a “can’t miss” and was considered one of the highlights at the music festival, with similar reaction to her performance at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Maggie Rose is a truly talented performer! We very much enjoyed Maggie Rose's performance. She has a great voice and her backup band did a great job.

A must see show, from start to finish a great experience. I can't say enough good good things about her. She comes out and owns the stage. Her soul full sound with magic man is one of my favorites. Such power to come in a small package.

Amazing! This was one of the best shows I have seen. Maggie Rose not only sounds amazing live but really connects with her audience.

Rose is the absolute finest vocalist I've ever heard. Her band are also an extraordinary group of musicians. Concert was outstanding.

Maggie is phenomenal! She is always great live, but hearing her perform stripped down versions of her songs where her voice can really shine is my favorite concert experience.

This woman and her family band are nothing short of amazing! True musicians with passion that shines through in every song.


Riders Against The Storm

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Riders Against The Storm performing on the Tito's stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 8, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Riders Against the Storm (RAS), a husband and wife duo based in Austin, Texas, are the very essence of the cultural phenomenon known as hip hop. Understanding that art and performance are keys to transforming the individual spirit, they have built institutions that aid in this mission, including Body Rock ATX, now running 10 years strong, and RAS Day music festival, a standout of the ATX live music scene for 6 years. Within their music, and central to their purpose as creators, is an upholding of the culture's spiritual integrity, and a contagious celebration of the magic of creating something from ‘nothing.’

Riders Against the Storm are award-winning performance artists, musicians, keynotes, designers, influencers and curators whose contributions cannot be overstated. While their music continues to take hold they are growing their legacy into tech and philanthropic platforms – setting their sights on surfacing indigenous frameworks to inform and shift current business paradigms. Through partnerships with companies like Tito’s Vodka, Lyft, and others, Chaka and Qi Dada intend to create content, music, art, programs, events, and more that spurs social change and inspires awareness amongst their base – guiding us into an era where art and spirit lead our decision-making towards sustainability and wellness.


Saleka

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Saleka performing on the Honda stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 8, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Saleka is a classically trained, Indian American musician, who began playing piano at the age of four. As the daughter of M. Night and Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan, Saleka was raised on an eclectic combination of music. Rather than attending a traditional conservatory, Saleka made a transformative decision and enrolled at Brown University to begin her journey as an R&B singer-songwriter and study both Literary Arts and Music.

Saleka has performed at iconic venues across the United States, opening for both R&B legends and up-and-coming artists such as Boyz II Men, Summer Walker, Baby Rose and K. Michelle. In addition to music, Saleka uses her powerful voice to raise awareness for social justice reform, youth education and women’s rights.


Austin City Limits Music Festival

The Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival is an annual music festival held in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas on two consecutive three-day weekends. Inspired by the KLRU/PBS music series of the same name, the festival is produced by Austin-based company C3 Presents, which also produces Chicago's Lollapalooza.

The ACL Music Festival has eight stages where musical groups from genres including rock, indie, country, folk, electronic and hip hop perform for fans. The concerts continue until 10:00 PM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the festival with various stages spread out in the park. Approximately 450,000 people attend the festival each year. In addition to the music performances, there are food and drinks, an art market, a kids area for families, and other activities for attendees.

Austin City Limits Music Festival
web | facebook | twitter | instagram

Words and photos by Makayla Arvesen
facebook | twitter | instagram

Photos by Ralph Arvesen
web | facebook | twitter | instagram

ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen