ACL Music Festival | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
Austin City Limits Music Festival Weekend 2 Day 2 at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Since its start in 2002, ACL Music Festival has grown to nine stages that feature a diverse lineup of over 100 acts. Approximately 70,000 festivalgoers flocked to Zilker Park each day, amassing an estimated total of 450,000 attendees for the entire six-day event. These impressive numbers make ACL the second-largest annual event in Austin, surpassed only by SXSW. Artists covered include:

  • Miya Folick
  • Pony Bradshaw
  • Nemegata
  • Sincere Engineer
  • Valley James
  • Eloise
  • Eddie Zuko
  • Rattlesnake Milk
  • Angel White
  • Jessie Ware
  • Calder Allen
  • Gus Dapperton
  • Snooper
  • Amaarae
  • Rina Sawayama
  • Poolside
  • New West
  • Coi Leray
  • Devon Gilfillian
  • Thirty Seconds to Mars
  • Tove Lo
  • Bob Moses
  • The 1975

Earlier this year, Austin faced a brutal 78-day streak of triple-digit temperatures. Things have since cooled down, but the city is still notorious for having extreme weather variations in October. In 2019, for example, weekend one (October 6) featured the second-hottest day on record (high of 99 degrees) while weekend two (October 12) had the coldest (high of 65 degrees).

The weather was relatively mild for weekend two this year, with highs peaking in the upper 80s on Friday and some excessive wind gusts on Sunday. Of note was the annular solar eclipse on Saturday, October 15, the last annular solar eclipse visible from the U.S. until 2039! The "ring of fire" occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the Sun, but is too small to completely cover the Sun's surface. It was reported to reach a maximum coverage of 89% at 11:54am.

Beyond The Music
Eight vendors delivered an elevated experience to festivalgoers. Some of the activities and goodies offered at these special areas included:

  • T-Mobile Club Magenta: VIP lounge seating, private bar, side stage access, giant claw machine with prizes
  • Coke Studio: create AI album art, record a custom music video, ice-cold Coke Zero Sugar
  • The Pixel Experience: first look at the new Google Pixel 8, AI-powered photo ops
  • Hulu House: escape room experience, stream content live from select ACL Music Festival stages, comfortable seating and air conditioning, free Hulu swag
  • Tito’s Stardust Experience: bandanas, claw machine with prizes such as hats, koozies, sunglasses, Tito’s vodka, and side stage access
  • Amex Experience: shoot pics on a digital camera in a retro photo studio, and edit them in an old-school photo lab
  • Wrangler Ranch: buy limited edition merch and vintage denim, with special branding available
  • Honda Retreat: 360º photo booth, cool off under misted water tower
  • Miller Lite: cornhole, basketball hoops, mist fans

This Must Be The Place is a nonprofit organization that travels to music festivals throughout the states. Travers-Hayward and his associates provided free Narcan nasal spray, as well as education about signs and symptoms of drug overdose and how to reverse it. The World Health Organization estimates that 69,000 people die from opioid overdose each year, making free Narcan and education a truly priceless resource.

The combo of filming, snapping pics, and struggling to get cell service makes it difficult to ration out one's phone battery. Portable charging stations offered peace of mind to many by allowing users to rent a portable charger for $15.00. Festivalgoers could then film their favorite bands all day long, and still have enough juice to call an Uber at the end of the night.

Austin encourages festivalgoers to start young. Kids under 8 years of age entered the festival free of charge when accompanied by a ticket-holding adult. Austin Kiddie Limits provided an array of activities for the little ones, such as crafts, line dancing lessons, a drum zone, temporary “tattooz”, and a rainbow chalk wall.

Eats, Sweets, & Drinks
Attending a 3-day festival can be exhausting, so proper hydration and refueling are a must. ACL Eats catered to many dietary restrictions (vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free) and food categories, including American, Asian, BBQ, burgers, Indian, and Mexican.

ACL Eats featured 39 food vendors, while ACL Sweets hosted 11 delicious dessert vendors. Many local Austin favorites were featured in this year’s food lineup: Happy Chicks, East Side King, The Original Black’s Barbeque, Bananarchy, and JP’s Pancake Company, to name a few.

Prices were jacked up inside the festival gates, as expected. For example, a Shackburger ($6.59 at local Shake Shack) was $14.00 and fries ($3.89 at local Shake Shack) were $8.00. In between acts, the line for food could reach up to 45 minutes.

Water, however, was a different story. Five Yeti hydration stations were scattered throughout the park, making it easy for festival goers to refill containers with clean, cool water. The water stations were extremely efficient and hardly ever harbored a line. While waiting, fans could cool off under a giant misted fan.

Barton Springs Beer Hall was curated by Houston brewery Karbach Brewing Co. Here, fans could grab a pint, cool off in a shaded area with attractive string lights, and watch any of the various sports games on one of two giant screens. For the first time, ACL served mixed drinks, such as Tito’s Vodka sparkling lemonade. There was also canned wine, freshly-squeezed lemonade, High Brew Coffee, and Rambler Sparkling Water available throughout the park.

An abundance of trash cans and recycling bins made it easy to dispose of waste responsibly. As an additional incentive to keep the park clean, ACL Fest handed out green bags sporting three guitars in the shape of a recycling sign that read “Rock and Recycle”. Concert-goers were encouraged to fill the entire bag with cans in exchange for a unique, limited edition shirt designed by a local artist.

The restroom situation at ACL improves every year. This year’s toilets had a step-to-flush feature that greatly reduced unpleasant smell and sanitation situations associated with port-a-potties from previous years. 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, and medical personnel were amazingly attentive and quick to respond to those who needed medical attention.

Parking was not available at Zilker Park or in the surrounding neighborhoods, but it was easy to get to the festival via metrobike, scooter, foot, Cap Metro bus system, rideshare, or the free Festival Shuttle. The pedicabs that lined the roads near festival exits were fun and convenient, but at a price–customer report paying anywhere from $20-100 for a 5-minute ride. More than 35,000 were reported to depart from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Monday, making it a top five record-breaking day at the airport.

The 1975

ACL Festival The 1975 performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

After four studio albums, there's not much territory The 1975 hasn't covered at this point. Throughout their tenure as a band, the English rockers have flirted with glossy pop, anarchist punk, gritty garage rock, electro-funk and country. They've used their incisive songwriting to ask existential questions surrounding self-discovery, nihilism, climate change, mental health, addiction, post-modernism and cybersex. So what's a band to do when they've seemingly done it all? After 20 years together, The 1975 decided it was time for a return to form, a way to celebrate their beginnings and showcase their growth. The result is their fifth effort Being Funny in a Foreign Language, perhaps the band's most intimate sounding record yet.
The 1975 far exceeded my expectations. The set was amazing, every song was a banger, and Matty put on an awesome performance. So glad to have been able to go. I wish I could re-live this concert.

The show was absolutely phenomenal. Off the stage, the lights, the music everything was great.

This was one of the best concerts I've been to. Matty really knows how to work a crowd. Ross, George, and Adam all looked phenomenal. The songs were all amazing and the atmosphere of the concert had such a fun vibe. I would highly recommend attending a 1975 concert in your life! I loved it and I love them!

Bob Moses

ACL Festival Bob Moses performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Bob Moses has gone from underground buzz band to festival favorite thanks to a darkly seductive house sound that combines top-notch songwriting skills with electronic production techniques. Meshing guitar licks, a moody smolder and a dash of dance-floor ambience with lyrical depth and classic songwriting, the duo created a sound that appeals equally to club goers and rock music fans. Translating their sound seamlessly to the live performance realm, years of nonstop global touring - including appearances at every major festival from Glastonbury and Coachella, to EDC, Lollapalooza and beyond - cemented the duo's reputation as a must see live act. A standout performance on The Ellen Show, a pair of nominations at both the Junos and the Grammys (and a Grammy win), and a top 15 US Alternative radio hit with "Tearing Me Up," have further sealed the band's burgeoning mainstream success.
Been a fan for a few years but never seen them live. Tom and Jimmy bring such good energy and the supporting band did not disappoint. They crushed it! By far the best show I have seen in 2023!

A phenomenal show. They had me dancing all night long. It was great to meet the artists after the show. Very down-to-earth guys. So glad we went to the show. Would totally go see them again.

Fantastic venue. The energy was amazing and everyone had a great time. Bob Moses is underrated and the duo partied with all of us! I would definitely see them again.

Tove Lo

ACL Festival Tove Lo performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Swedish pop ingenue Tove Lo has been a creative force in her native country for several years, but with the 2014 release of her debut EP Truth Serum she made considerable waves overseas as well. Catchy single "Stay High" peaked at No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart, and Lo nails the song every time at her electric live shows, capturing the relaxed beauty of the recording with her languid vocals and magnetic stage presence. On her latest tour, Tove Lo will treat fans to her original material along with renditions of hits she's penned for artists like Lea Michele and Cher Lloyd, making for a truly eclectic night of pop magic.
The show was excellent! Tove Lo is an amazing live performer, such an awesome show!

Such a great show! Tove lo is a fantastic performer and has such good energy. Had the crowd hype and engaged.

Tove Lo is electric. From the moment she arrives on stage you can't take your eyes off of her. Her voice is phenomenal, she sounds just like she does on her albums, if not better. She is one of the best pop performers I've ever seen.

Devon Gilfillian

ACL Festival Devon Gilfillian performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Growing up in Philadelphia on a steady diet of R&B, hip-hop, rock, blues, and soul music, Gilfillian gravitated to records that ignited his mind while making his body move. For him, listening to the towering icons of his musician father's era- - Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, The Temptations -was just as formative and exciting as discovering the new sounds of his own generation, and the beats and rhymes made by rising rap stars like Wu-Tang Clan, Kanye West, The Notorious B.I.G., and JAY-Z inspired him in new ways. He began to recognize a connective thread in the sounds he loved best: from the golden throwbacks sampled by the hip-hop beat makers to the raw, emotional vocal deliveries of the Motown greats, for Gilfillian the key ingredient seemed to be the "soul"-not simply the genre, but the feeling and vibe. Following his electrifying 2016 debut EP with upbeat singles like "High" and "Troublemaker" in 2018, Gilfillian signed to Capitol Records and hit the road-performing with the likes of Anderson East, Keith Urban, Gladys Knight, KALEO, The Fray, Mavis Staples, and more. In early 2019, Gilfillian traveled to Africa to find healing and inspiration before headlining a tour in Scandinavia and opening for Brothers Osborne on their spring tour.
Excellent performance by a Rising Star Devon Gilfilian. Mr. Devon Gilfillian was excellent and his voice range is like that of great performances like Superstar Earth Wind and Fire's Philip Bailey and Super Star Marvin Gaye. I look forward to seeing him rewarded at the Grammy's next year!

This man is magic! His first major album contains one of the greatest songs ever, "The Good Life." His second contains one of the greatest songs ever, "Love You Anyway." See where I'm going with this? He's phenomenal live, segueing seamlessly into each song creating an intimate atmosphere of positive vibes. Catch him while he's in his "Cavern Club" phase cos he's about to break out big time.

Devon is not to be missed. Fabulous experience seeing Devon and his band absolutely rock it, he is not to be missed!

Thirty Seconds to Mars

ACL Festival Thirty Seconds to Mars performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Formed in 1998 by Jared Leto and his older brother Shannon, Thirty Seconds to Mars found success in the ‘00s with a blend of hard rock, post-grunge and screamo. Drawing on influences ranging from Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Rush, the band have enjoyed global success with platinum-selling albums, world tours and numerous music awards. Frontman and actor Jared Leto enjoyed success on the ‘90s television drama My So Called Life in addition to movies such as Fight Club and Requiem for a Dream. As he approached his 30s, he decided to focus on his music and enlisted the help of his brother to form Thirty Seconds to Mars. While music is his passion, Jared continues to enjoy a successful Hollywood acting career, and has a string of notable film releases to his name including Panic Room, Highway, and American Psycho. He snagged an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Dallas Buyers Club.
Great energy and the new music is just amazing. Played the older hits and mixed well with the new and we were down front!

Thirty Seconds to Mars put on a great show.

Wow, what a night! Jared came out in the crowd and stopped right by my daughter, her husband and me. To see the look on her face was priceless and I have to thank Jared for being so cool to give his fans an experience like that. I got to see Jared when I was 32 years old at his first Chicago show and now my daughter got to see the show of her life at 31!

Coi Leray

ACL Festival Coi Leray performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Coi Leray is an American rapper and singer. She began posting music to SoundCloud and released her single "Huddy", along with her debut mixtape Everythingcoz in 2018. After signing a record deal with 1801 Records and Republic Records, Leray released her second mixtape, EC2 (2019), and her debut extended play, Now or Never (2020). In 2021, the Lil Durk-assisted remix of her single, "No More Parties", reached the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

In 2022, Leray released her debut studio album Trendsetter. The album's collaborative single with Nicki Minaj, "Blick Blick", also reached the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. Her 2022 song "Players" peaked in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, and preceded her second studio album, Coi (2023). Her 2023 single "Baby Don't Hurt Me" (with David Guetta and Anne-Marie), reached the top 20 on the UK Singles Chart.

New West

ACL Festival New West performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Four individuals. One vision. Endless possibilities. Meet New West. The Toronto-based “collective” comprises four individual artists, namely Kala Wita, Vella, Ben Key, and Noel West. For as different as they respectively may be in terms of where they’re from, how they create, and why they’re here, they fit together as seamlessly as long-lost puzzle pieces.

They rotate between instruments and pass around the mic, morphing in real-time across each and every song with an unabashedly warm nostalgic undercurrent. Their very first release “Those Eyes” hinted at the potential of their chemistry. Its lush lo-fi acoustic guitar, dreamy piano, lullaby melody, and quotable play-by-play of a relationship in full bloom instantly reacted with listeners worldwide. It initially popped off on TikTok (the guys aren’t quite sure where but it’s all good), and the success slowly but surely translated to streaming platforms.

Between the Original and “Sped Up” version, it clocked nearly 270 million Spotify streams. Tracing an invisible line all the way from the British Invasion to 21st century alternative R&B, they defy genre as they simultaneously define a singular style on their 2023 forthcoming full-length debut for Giant Music/Republic Records and much more to come.


ACL Festival Poolside performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Poolside returns to the stage as a live band for the first time since 2019. Their signature Daytime Disco sound is elevated to new heights by a formidable 7-piece ensemble comprised of accomplished veteran players who have left indelible marks on indie rock and electronic music over the course of the last two decades.

The 7-piece live show, led by Jeffrey Paradise, combines the raw power of rock ’n roll with the nonstop groove of disco and dance music.

Rina Sawayama

ACL Festival Rina Sawayama performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

The devil works hard, but Rina Sawayama works harder. Fresh off the triumph of her UK and US headline tour, which sold out the Roundhouse in London and saw five-star reviews from The Guardian and NME, the newly minted British-Japanese pop star is following up her celebrated debut album SAWAYAMA with LP2, a colossally ambitious and utterly original record that marries intimate storytelling with arena-sized tunes. In between SAWAYAMA landing on over 50 album of the year lists, including the New York Times (#2), The Guardian (#3) and Rolling Stone (#6), a "superstar-in-the-making"(NME) TV performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, starring alongside Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4, and sparking a change in the BRITS and Mercury Prize eligibility criteria to ensure non-British nationals like Berwyn could be nominated, you'd be forgiven for wondering when she even sleeps.
Rina puts on a show like no other! She gives you what you ask for and throws in a new flavor when you least expect it.

Rina is literally one of the best live performers. The entire show was so good and her theatricality is off the charts. Her vocals are so amazing live. I highly recommend.

It was a phenomenal experience to see Rina perform! This was my first live concert and I have to say, you guys killed it! Everything was perfect! I love you guys and keep up the amazing work! Wish you guys much success and happiness!


ACL Festival Amaarae performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Since winning ears and hearts in 2017 with her self-released debut album Passionfruit Summers, Ghanaian-American singer-songwriter, producer and engineer Ama Serwah Genfi has established herself as an exceptional and wholly unique force in an ever-changing musical landscape.


ACL Festival Snooper performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Playing punk rock that has pop hooks but isn't really pop-punk, Snooper are a band from Nashville whose scrappy, frantic style is fun and approachable, made by people who see no need to buff off their rough edges. Vocalist Blair Tramel mixes a bright sing-song delivery with edgy energy that undercuts any sweetness, while the rigid textures of the instrumentalists add a synth pop influence even when the arrangements are dominated by guitars.

Gus Dapperton

ACL Festival Gus Dapperton performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Gus Dapperton, a self-taught musician and largely self-produced singer-songwriter, has offered a singular vision since he began releasing songs online in 2016. The Warwick, New York native first gained traction with 2017’s “I’m Just Snacking,” which led to his independently-released debut EP Yellow and Such, as well as his first major tour across the U.S. and Europe. He built on that momentum with 2018’s You Think You're a Comic! EP featuring the standout single “Prune, You Talk Funny.” The following year kicked off a prolific run for Dapperton, who released his debut album Where Polly People Go to Read, the collaborative In Passing 001 EP with Hayes Bradley, and the joint pop hit “Supalonely” with BENEE. “Supalonely” became Dapperton’s highest-charting single, peaking at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 and eventually reaching RIAA-certified double-platinum status. His sophomore album, Orca, quickly followed in 2020. After signing a major label deal with Warner Records in 2022, Dapperton released his third full-length, HENGE, in 2023.
Always worth seeing Gus Dapperton. He has great energy and puts on a fantastic show.

He is an incredible performer and he sings so beautifully.

Excellent show from Gus Dapperton.

Calder Allen

ACL Festival Calder Allen performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Calder Allen is one of the newest rising acts to emerge out of Austin, Texas. Both audibly and lyrically beyond his years, Allen is a prolific singer-songwriter and self-taught guitarist who completed the recording of his first album in 2021 at the historic Arlyn Studios, shortly followed by his inaugural performance at Austin City Limits Music Festival. His debut album, produced and engineered by Charlie Sexton and Jacob Sciba respectively, was released in June of 2022. His 2022 festival run included slots at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza Chicago, Sea Hear Now and Format Festival. Beyond festivals, he has opened for The Avett Brothers, John Hiatt, Turnpike Troubadours, The Wood Brothers, Shane Smith and the Saints, and more.

Angel White

ACL Festival Angel White performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Angel White is a singer/songwriter from Dallas, Texas whose music blends R&B, Pop, and Western influences in a new and unprecedented way. Angel spent his formative years busking on the streets of Deep Ellum, learning the power of his voice and how it could touch the people around him.

It was this approach to songwriting that spawned Angel’s new solo identity and thus his forthcoming album, GHOST OF THE WEST. Unlike most contemporary music, Angel’s music is not “wallpaper” or transparent: instead, his songs will take listeners to a specific place. For Angel; a western landscape is equally beautiful and dark in its vastness. VILLAIN, the debut single from GHOST OF THE WEST, is a reminder of the lurking presence of something sinister taking the form of a passing thought, a pernicious relationship, or words never said. Watch for the wolves, and leave it all behind.

Jessie Ware

ACL Festival Jessie Ware performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

English songstress Jessie Ware has been captivating fans around the world since breaking onto the pop scene with her ethereal love song "Wildest Moments". Ware possesses a polished style and silky-smooth vocals, and she effortlessly glides across the stage with grace at her enchanting performances. Her powerful lyrics and awe-inspiring sound transcend traditional pop, and her alluring music will be on full display as she treats concertgoers to songs from her debut album Devotion.
I just love Jessie Ware’s music and wasn’t sure what to expect from the concert. My expectations were totally blown. It was like a big hug and everything in the world was righted. Would 100% go again.

Jessie Ware can turn it out! She sounded great, her dancers and musicians were fabulous. The energy of the crowd was some of the best I've ever experienced. We made so many new friends. Jessie's show was b both heartfelt and camp. I can't wait to see her again!

Jessie Ware's concert was a fantastic performance. Her stage presence and vocal talent shone, making it an enjoyable night overall.

Eddie Zuko

ACL Festival Eddie Zuko performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Eddie Zuko is a young Chicano singer/songwriter from California's Imperial Valley. Making music since the age of 12, Eddie elegantly weaves English and Spanish in a melodic hip-hop lane of his own. Eddie's debut EP, featuring hometown anthem "Made," has become a cult favorite among Imperial, California High Schools with marching band performances at football halftimes. Eddie's successful local shows have put him on the map, with new music and tour dates to come, Zuko is poised to make a name for himself.
This have to be one of the best concert I’ve ever been to. Not just because Eddie Zuko did a phenomenal job curating the opening talent for his show, but also because of how engaged every single person felt in the crowd, you couldn’t help but dance move and sing along to songs, you might not even know all the words to, Eddie Zuko crush this concert as part of his first world tour and I would not be surprised if he hit it big in the next few months! This is definitely a must watch show! Wow!

From Beginning to end of the concert it was entertaining. Definitely engaged with the crowd

It was on of the greatest experiences in my life I was glued in and engulfed since they hit the stage thank you for this experience hope for more to come.


ACL Festival Eloise performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Eloise was first drawn to music growing up in rural France, where as a child she began to comb through her parents’ diverse record collection, take piano lessons and sing in a choir. In her early teens, back in London, she began to teach herself the guitar by mimicking the chord patterns she saw on YouTube.

By age 17, the artist began to share acoustic covers on Instagram gaining notable supporters including Billie Eilish, Sam Smith and Bruno Major. Eloise is the definition of wise beyond her years. Ahead of her recently released debut project, Somewhere In Between, the UK singer and songwriter has been recognized by outlets on her home turf as a breakout rising star for her way with words, emotion, and a unique incorporation of classic styles like jazz, R&B, standards, and current pop. With the release of this mini-album, she is truly poised to take the world by storm.
Eloise is magical. She has the voice of an angel. I wish she played her entire set twice, or repeatedly. The rest of the evening I felt like I was floating; she truly elevates her audience off the ground. I will be getting tickets to her shows whenever she comes remotely near, I am in the process of getting other friends hooked on her music. One of the most incredible, whimsical, wonderfully cool musicians I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing.

Valley James

ACL Festival Valley James performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Nurtured by the golden hills of Star, Idaho, Valley James grew up riding horses through cheatgrass and sagebrush, unknowingly searching for more beyond the confines of her life. Music was in her veins, and over time, she realized that articulating her depth through song was her lifeblood.

Inspired by the haunting allure of film noir heroines and the transformative odyssey of heroes, she delicately weaves together a tapestry of depth and playful darkness, all set against the evocative backdrop of the wild and romantic isolation unique to the desolate West. Reminiscent of luminaries like Roy Orbison, Chris Isaak, and Patsy Cline, Valley James brings a contemporary twist that is distinctly her own.

Her music is a testament to her devotion to learning to feel the full spectrum of human emotion, and her songs are a candid portrayal of her sometimes reckless and clumsy expedition into the complexities of the human experience. Valley James, on the surface, appears as a heroine fueled by vengeance, but beneath her enigmatic exterior lies a soul in search of meaning, hope, and redemption.

Sincere Engineer

ACL Festival Sincere Engineer performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Sincere Engineer is the band for everyone that’s ever felt like quitting but gets through it anyway. It’s for everyone that has had big dreams lead to feeling disillusioned and cynical, yet find the few hours to play in the sunlight. Bless My Psyche is a collection of vignettes about everyday failures, insecurity, anxiety, and the prosaic things we do to push forward.


ACL Festival Nemegata performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

On their new offering, Nemegata ascends the proverbial Holy Mountain. Their upcoming third full-length was recorded at Lechehouse Music in Buda, Texas, and produced by Grammy-award Winning musician and producer Beto Martinez (Grupo Fantasma, Brownout, Money Chicha), and Juan “El Mono” Alvarez. The new album is a powerful Afro-Indigenous Colombian shamanic journey filled with tobacco-seeped jungle sounds, eerie synthesizers, and distorted psychedelic guitars.

Pony Bradshaw

ACL Festival Pony Bradshaw performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Americana singer-songwriter Pony Bradshaw occupies a space somewhere between country, rock and blues. With insightful lyrics and emotive instrumentation, the Mississippi-born artist captured early attention from Rolling Stone and NPR.

Bradshaw didn't take up music until he was in his thirties, but by the time he picked up a guitar, he had plenty to write about. His colorful life experiences, including a short-lived stint in the Air Force, have made their way into his introspective songwriting. After playing open mics and clubs in the American south, he caught the attention of renowned independent label Rounder Records (Alison Krauss & Union Station, Indigo Girls) who signed him in 2018. He released his debut album, Sudden Opera, in 2019.

Now based in Georgia, Bradshaw brings a Southern sensibility to his storytelling, which is soundtracked by reverb-y slide guitar and soulful keys.

Miya Folick

ACL Festival Miya Folick performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Miya Folick is a singer-songwriter and musician based in Los Angeles. She released her first EP “Strange Darling” in May, 2015. She is half-Japanese and half-Russian and was raised as a Jōdo Shinshū Buddhist, learning to play the taiko drums in a church group.

Self describing her songs as a fusion between grunge and folk, she brings dreamy melodies and slightly confessional lyrics that, along with her discreet charm, are bound to get any music lover hooked.

Rattlesnake Milk

ACL Festival Rattlesnake Milk performing at the ACL Music Festival on October 14, 2023. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Rattlesnake Milk is a band of four close friends formed in the flatlands of the Texas panhandle. It originated after writing songs while farming cotton for a close family friend in Olton, Texas and recording eight songs. The demos were very rough and I played all the instruments on them. After showing them to some of my friends in Lubbock, they agreed to help me play them live and Rattlesnake Milk was born.

Austin City Limits Music Festival

ACL 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 nine stages where musical groups from genres including rock, indie, country, folk, electronic, and hip hop perform for fans. The concerts continue from 11:00 AM to 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.

ACL Music Festival
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Words and photos by Makayla Arvesen
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Photos by Ralph Arvesen
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