Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Austin City Limits Music Festival Weekend 2 Day 3 at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas on October 10, 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.


Tyler, The Creator

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Tyler, The Creator performing on the Lady Bird stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Tyler, The Creator, a Grammy award-winning American rapper, record producer, director, fashion designer, and the head of his own independent record label, Odd Future Records. He is the leader of Los Angeles, California, USA hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA).

Hi music is primarily rooted in alternative hip hop, hip hop, bedroom pop, jazz rap, R&B, and neo soul, while his earlier music was considered horrorcore. Over the years, his style of production has progressed from gritty and dark in early projects to a jazzy and soulful approach with the albums Cherry Bomb, Flower Boy, Igor, and Call Me If You Get Lost.
So beautiful, the best performance I have seen.

Greatest live show energy! I have been a fan of Tyler since 2011 and having been such enamored by his live performances on Youtube, my expectations have only exceeded since being able to witness his talent every tour since Flower Boy. Worth the money and time, you’ll enjoy yourself.

Tyler is an amazing performer. He puts so much energy and effort into his performance and he is a charismatic entertainer. There was so much emotion put into his last song I was truly in tears.

My first concert ever, and I was not disappointed whatsoever.

Amazing performer, his art comes to life when he does a show, amazing.

Amazing, amazing, amazing! He is such a talented artist and he knows how to perform so well! This night was honestly unforgettable.

Amazing show! I have seen Tyler multiple times around the country, and can attest to his greatness. What an inspirational artist!

This is was probably my favorite concert that I’ve been to in a while. Seeing Tyler live was a sick experience!


Tierra Whack

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Tierra Whack performing on the VBRO stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Whack's beginnings in rap started out in battle rapping, and it is something she looks upon fondly. While she appreciates the foundation that it gave her for her music, she wanted to aim higher than just rap battles. Seeing artists such as Lauryn Hill, Andre 3000, and Eminem had inspired her to become a true artist. In doing so, she would be seen as something more serious than just a battle rapper.

Whack cites Outkast, Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, and Kelis as some of her musical influences. Whack claims there are many different things that inspire and motivate her and she wants to be able to portray those to her fans in her music. She even credits things such as Sesame Street or No! David as some of her influences; these are clearly seen through her visuals from her album's music video.

Her inspirations come from everything around her; from her relationships to people to inanimate objects. Her single, "Only Child", for example, was created after dating a man whose behavior she aligned with that of someone who grew up an only child. Whack's mother is often credited as one of, if not the, biggest inspirations for her music. She recalls the days her mother would play gangster rap during car rides. For her single, "Unemployed", her mother had actually helped her create the hook for the song.


Greta Van Fleet

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Greta Van Fleet performing on the Lady Bird stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Greta Van Fleet is four young musicians, twin brothers Josh (vocals) and Jake Kiszka (guitar), younger brother Sam (bass/keys), and longtime friend Danny Wagner (drums). All from the tiny Michigan hamlet of Frankenmuth known for its chicken dinners and the world’s largest Christmas store. All were raised on their parents’ vinyl collections which helped give birth to the music they make today: a high-energy hybrid of rock’n’roll, blues and soul.

Greta Van Fleet’s first year as a professional band was a wild ride of sold-out concerts in North America and Europe, glowing press, accolades from a slew of fellow artists from Elton John to Nikki Sixx to Tom Hanks, millions of YouTube video plays and Spotify streams, two #1 singles at Rock Radio and two #1 EPs, and most importantly, the genesis of an extraordinary connection with their fans.

Greta Van Fleet’s shared message with their music is to spread “peace, love and unity,” and their collective goal is to have people walk out of their live shows feeling invigorated, energized and exhilarated, and to take that feeling out into the world.
The best musicians on this planet. I saw them live at ACL Music Festival and it was the best show I have ever been to. I made it my mission to buy another ticket for weekend two at ACL just for Greta Van Fleet. I can still feel the adrenaline the day after. Greta Van Fleet makes my heart warm and happy. I’m so glad I got the chance to see them live.

An amazing show stopping wonderful performance. They sound even better live than they do on a record. The drums, the bass, the guitar, and the singing is all stellar. I’m a lifetime fan here.

Best night ever! I had the best night ever seeing my favorite band. This was the first time I had seen them live and they live up to the hype! They were absolutely fantastic.

First time seeing Greta Van Fleet and will not be the last! I love this band so much and they’re amazing live.

They all give everything. I've been to so many concerts but this was energizing. I jumped, screamed, sang, cried and laughed. I never loved a show so much!

Fantastic show! High energy! Positive atmosphere! Beautiful rockin' music! Great performers! Talented musicians!

Such a special band. I love seeing them live they never ever ever fail to put on an amazing show.


Marc Rebillet

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Marc Rebillet performing on the T-Mobile stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Marc Rebillet is known for improvising electronic songs that feature comical lyrics. Rebillet primarily distributes his work through YouTube videos and Twitch live streams in which he uses a loop station, keyboard, vocals and percussion instruments to produce his songs in his apartment. He also has released three studio albums (Marc Rebillet, Europe and Loop Daddy III) and two extended play records (Loop Daddy and Loop Daddy II). Billboard named Rebillet as a "Billboard Dance Emerging Artist", writing that Rebillet creates "sexy hooks", "sensual R&B burners", and "hip-hop-tinged funk creations".
Amazing show! An absolute blast. Far exceeded my already high expectations! I’ll definitely see Marc again.

Great concert. Succeeded my expectations tremendously. Marc is insanely talented, energetic, and interacts with the crowd and an awesome way. Definitely want to see him again!

Marc is a high energy show from a deeply talented, hilarious and compassionate person. It’s great to see his fan base grow over the years.

The absolute best! Marc was absolutely amazing from start to finish. 10 out of 10 will go to more shows in the future!

Hands down the best concert I’ve been to yet! The sound system was incredible. Marc was amazing in person blew my expectations out of the park! Seeing him online is nothing comparable to in person! Will be seeing him anytime he comes back to my area! Loved loved loved it!

Just a great night to make you smile. Great festival and great people.

Such a great time. I've been to hundreds of shows over the course of my life I've always loved going to see live music. Marc put on one of the most entertaining, fun and worthwhile shows I've been to in a very long time! And to think he does it all improv!


Polo G

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Polo G performing on the Honda stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Polo G has been unstoppable and is one of music’s top rising talents. Aptly named Polo G after his favorite lifestyle brand, Polo by Ralph Lauren, and his slain friend Gucci, Polo G is determined to leave his mark. The 22-year-old Chicago rapper’s critically acclaimed sophomore album The GOAT debuted at #2 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart with 10 of the songs simultaneously charting on the Hot 100. The album is certified Platinum and has accrued over 3 Billion streams to date with no signs of slowing down.

His 2019 critically acclaimed Platinum debut album Die A Legend and includes the massive 6x platinum Billboard hit “Pop Out” ft. Lil Tjay. Polo G’s artistry stems from necessity. He utilizes music as an outlet to constructively verbalize the perils he and others faced in impoverished communities focusing on real-life struggles like racial inequality, violence, and mental health, while maintaining a deep connection to his community by giving back to Chicago youth with his AAU team.
I had an amazing night, everything was perfect.

It was amazing!

It was lit!


Superfónicos

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Superfónicos performing on the BMI stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Superfónicos is Colombian Funk. Better yet, it is Caríbe Soul... fed by the Indigenous and African roots of the band’s Colombian heritage, telegraphing a politics of peace and unity from the stage to your ears. They only ask that you dance toward a place in your mind beyond struggle and strife.

Superfónicos was formed when bassist Nico Sanchez and guitarist Erick Bohorquez began discussions about creating a group with a foundation in Afro-Colombian rhythms. They soon teamed up with guitarist Andres Villegas and percussionist Daniel Sanchez, and started rehearsing together during time away from their other bands. That core group developed the band’s unique sound, laying the foundation of what was to come.

Later, gaitero and vocalist Jaime Ospina—who has recorded with the likes of Pacha Massive, relocated from Colombia to Austin, where he met and instantly connected with the group. It was also during this time that the band met with famed local producer and Grammy winner Adrian Quesada at Level One Sound. Their recording session resulted in a sound that not only encapsulates a moment in time but helped to define Superfónicos as a collective. It is a musical mestizo that is ever-changing but deeply rooted in Caribbean flavors.


Toosii

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Toosii performing on the T-Mobile stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Toosii began taking music more seriously after posting some various projects online, he released the Why Not Now EP, a collection that saw his melodic, autobiographical style solidifying. By this point, Toosii had generated enough buzz through both his music and a large social media following to attract the attention of the South Coast Music Group. He signed with the label and released the mixtape Who Dat, following it early the next year with Platinum Heart.

A consolidation of the rapper's infectious melodic style, the project was bolstered by a deluxe edition, with seven new tracks and a fully reordered track listing. Just a few months later, Toosii issued the Poetic Pain LP, which featured collaborations with Summer Walker and Lil Durk. The album reached number 17 on the Billboard 200.


Ant Clemons

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Ant Clemons performing on the Tito's stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Grammy nominated artist/songwriter, Ant Clemons, moved across the country from New Jersey to Los Angeles only a couple of years ago in pursuit of his dream career. He started 2018 by writing a song a day in exchange for a floor to sleep on. By June of that year, he landed a feature as the iconic voice behind Kanye West's hit single, "All Mine" and found himself atop the billboard charts. Clemons' overnight success is years in the making. As the epitome of a "rags to riches" story, the artist spent nights on park benches, couch hopping, and using songwriting as a means of currency. Today, he is recognized as one of the most in-demand songwriters and upcoming artists, due to his work with Beyonce, Camilla Cabello, G Eazy, Pharrell, etc. In late Feb of 2020, Ant released his debut EP, "Happy 2 Be Here," which is currently nominated for best R&B album for 2021 Grammy Awards Ceremony. Most recently, Ant released his single "Better days" ft. Justin Timberlake, which they performed together at the 2021 Biden/Harris Inauguration.


Tate McRae

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Tate McRae performing on the Lady Bird stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Tate McRae has become the artist on the rise. She currently has over 2 billion career streams with over 3.3 million subscribers and over 500 million video views on YouTube. She was listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 List for 2021 as the youngest musician on the list as well as Apple’s Up Next Artist for 2021, Amazon’s Artist to Watch in 2021, Pandora’s Artists To Watch 2021 list and included on Billboard’s 21 Under 21 One’s To Watch list. She was also named one of YouTube’s Artist on the Rise, and MTV’s Push Artist for July 2020.

Tate’s breakout hit, “you broke me first” reached #1 at Top 40 radio and has over 1 billion stream worldwide. The track is approaching the Top 10 at Hot AC, helped Tate to secure her spot in the #1 spot for 5 weeks on Billboard’s Emerging Artist Chart and was #1 at dance radio last year. The track is not only double platinum in the US, but 4x PLATINUM in Ireland, 3x PLATINUM in Australia and Singapore, 2x PLATINUM in Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway and Sweden, PLATINUM in the Austria, Netherlands, South Africa, Taiwan and the UK, and GOLD in Denmark, Germany and Indonesia.
It was amazing! I got up front and the experience was surreal! I love Tate and she did an awesome job performing!

It was so lit!

Tate was amazing and also so nice to all of her fans. Best concert experience I could possibly have!

It was amazing! Best day of my life for sure! I have loved Tate McRae for so long and finally I was able to see her live.

I loved it, she was so good!

The show was so good! Tate was amazing in person and super nice.


Shiela

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Shiela performing on the Tito's stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Shiela is an Alternative R&B singer who's powerful lyrics and smooth sailing vocals lead fans to compare her likeness to that of Sade. The artist draws her inspiration from influences such as Kali Uchis, Kehlani and Alina Baraz, while maintaining the Hip-Hop and Electronic connections of her youth present in her sound. Originally from Austin, TX, the singer-songwriter first began practicing music during her summers spent in Managua, Nicaragua. Representing a blend of Mexican-American and Nicaraguan heritage, Shiela decided to pursue music as a career while attending The University of Texas at Austin.


Mattiel

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Mattiel performing on the BMI stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Watching her onstage, that brown bob of hers whirling like a cyclone as she unleashes her brash and husky riot of a voice, it’s hard to imagine Mattiel Brown was ever anything but a natural-born performer, a tried-and-true self-empowered presence. “Honestly though I never even believed I could do this,” Mattiel, one of rock’s most thrilling young talents, says. Still, dig deep and she’ll admit to those times when she’d let herself dream: of one day stepping onstage, gripping that microphone and showcasing her skills.

Then, she imagined, could at last let it all go, unleash that deep-seeded passion of hers for melody and rhythm and intricate storytelling and channel her pent-up ferocity into something real and palpable and powerful. “But,” adds the singer, whose youth was shaped by an eclectic range of music – from folk to punk and hip-hop – and who for years only sang by herself in private, “I remember thinking all along, “Yeah, I would love to do that but it’s out of my wheelhouse, right?” Mattiel pauses and smiles as if to say she now knows she was capable of becoming a masterful frontwoman all along. “I guess I just really had to break out of my skin.”
As unique as she is, Mattiel is a great show to go to. Quality music.

Excellent voice. She made my night. She is great and had a good band with great sound.

Such a great show! definitely a night to remember and for sure one for the books!

Amazing! Fantastic stage presence and wow that band can play!


Kennyhoopla

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Kennyhoopla performing on the T-Mobile stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

KennyHoopla emerged out of the Midwestern underground in the latter years of the 2010s with a series of buzz-worthy singles that merged aspects of new wave, post-punk, and R&B. Hoopla began making music at a young age, influenced by acts like Funeral Suits, Passion Pit, and the Drums. Based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, his early tracks were loosely labeled rap, though his dark-toned, guitar-based songs and aching contemplative vocals had more in common with indie rock and alt-R&B.


Jessie Murph

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Jessie Murph performing on the Lady Bird stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Jessie Murph is no stranger to being the odd girl out, especially considering her upbringing in a small conservative town. She rose to fame by releasing covers on social media such as Instagram and TikTok. Jessie used the bullying she received at school as fuel to conquer her emotions and transform her songwriting into the captivation and emotive display of strength it is today. The isolation, mistreatment, and misogyny she encountered ultimately made her stronger and birthed the authentic and unapologetic Jessie Murph who is ready to take the music world by storm. Her sound revolves around the harmony that grasps deep emotional lyrics and bass-oriented instrumentals which express complex yet simple emotions. Murph’s passion to deliver something new and something better has driven her over the years and is the key to her success and perseverance.


Zach Person

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Zach Person performing on the BMI stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Zach Person is considered to be "the future of American indie music, the illegitimate love child of The Black Keys and Lenny Kravitz." Zach is a House of Blues Music Forward Foundation Alumnus, who is known for his contemporary, pop-rock approach to blues and American roots music.


Payday

Austin City Limits Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Payday performing on the T-Mobile stage at the ACL Music Festival on October 10, 2021. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Clever and irreverent, rapper/vocalist Payday's lyrical style is as comical and unserious as her mic skills are impressive. The musician was just 16 when she started to get attention for her vibrant tracks that could include lyrical references to anything from getting a manicure at Wal-Mart to alphabet soup. Payday released several stand-alone tracks and mixtapes before offering up some of her best-produced material on 2020 mixtape It's Just Music.


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
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Words and photos by Makayla Arvesen
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Photos by Ralph Arvesen
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