Get to Know 8 Local Bands Playing ACL Music Festival This Year
These Austin-based artists are defining our famed music scene for generations to come
Whether it’s your first time or your 20th attending Austin’s eponymous ACL Music Festival, it never fails to spread an exciting, infectious energy throughout the city. Taking place for two weekends from October 6–8 and 13–15 at the picturesque Zilker Park, more than 100 acts will play across nine stages, making it easy to spend the day watching your favorite musicians and discovering new ones.
While invariably each year there are some disagreements over the lineup, one thing the program has never shied away from is hosting a considerate list of upcoming and established local artists, representing a slice of Austin culture to visitors and residents alike.
It can be hard to keep up with who’s who in a city filled with so much natural talent. And even if you’re not planning to brave the sky-high temps or scores of concert-goers this year for a chance to jam out in-person, each of these homegrown artists are still worth putting on your playlist or catching at a esteemed venue all year round. Take a look at our locals-only schedule below for a little taste of Austin’s renowned music scene.
1. Asleep at the Wheel
Honda Stage | 12:55 – 1:40pm
Gather ‘round newcomers, this is your first stop. Asleep at the Wheel has been opening ACL since the fest first launched in 2002 — the only band to ever do so (minus in 2021 when weather delays pushed back the entire event’s start time). Lively frontman Ray Benson presents distinct, rugged vocals joined by a six-plus piece band, creating a euphony of chart-topping American Roots music with the energy to match. Catch them at the Honda Stage and see why the decades-old ensemble has amassed nine Grammy Awards and remained a staple throughout Austin’s ever-changing music scene.
2. Calder Allen
Saturday (W1 & W2)
Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage | 2:45 – 3:30pm
Although his budding career is still relatively new, Calder Allen has come out of the gates swinging with his debut album “The Game,” which he recorded at the revered Arlyn Studios in 2021 before playing his first ACL Fest later that same year. The fifth-generation Austinite and self-taught guitarist has since performed alongside acclaimed bands like The Avett Brothers, become a music fest fixture and grown a supportive fanbase in Austin and beyond. On Saturday during both weekends, he’ll be back to croon nostalgic country songs that show a depth and maturity beyond his years.
3. Ben Kweller
Saturday (W1 & W2)
Miller Lite Stage | 3 – 4pm
Ben Kweller’s return to ACL comes with a heavier heart and an earnest mission. The singer, songwriter and instrumentalist faced unimaginable tragedy in February when his teenage son Dorian passed away from a car accident. Dorian was a gifted musician himself, set to perform his first gig at SXSW and join his father on tour as an opening act. Ben has used music as a powerful passage through grief, dedicating his following performances to his son’s legacy.
Growing up in Greenville and officially relocating to Austin in 2009, the musician had cut his teeth on stages across Texas for years, collaborating with and touring alongside massive industry names like the Strokes, Ben Folds and, more recently, good friend Ed Sheeran. Ben’s shows easily draw a crowd with his indie rock anthems, often molding multiple genres to create his own fusion. But in this new era of deep healing, the commitment to his son’s memory, message of togetherness and passion for musical storytelling will undoubtedly shine through for an unforgettable show.
4. Grace Sorensen
BMI Stage | 1:30 – 2:15pm
A rising name with raw ability, this 20-year-old artist and dancer is crafting R&B hits with silky-smooth and soulful vocals. Since establishing her music career here in ATX, she has already played Hot Summer Nights festival, provided backup vocals for established names and even opened for legend Diana Ross at COTA. Now, she’s ready to return to the ACL stage and perform her own songs. After releasing standout singles “Attraction” and “Digits,” which features local favorite Magna Carda, she came out with her debut EP “What I Never Told You” in 2022. Find her set at BMI and be prepared to see her name around for years to come.
5. Jimmie Vaughan and the Tilt-A-Whirl Band
Honda Stage | 12:55 – 1:40pm
Blues will always have a place in Austin thanks to the timeless talents of musicians like Jimmie Vaughan. A mainstay at classic venues such as Antone’s and C-Boy’s Heart & Soul, Jimmie is the older brother of late icon Stevie Ray Vaughan and continues to carry the torch of Texas’ historic genre, accruing four Grammy Awards, notable acting gigs, Austin Music Awards Hall of Fame status and more during his illustrious, near six-decade-long career. He’ll be joined by his versatile Tilt-A-Whirl Band to kick-off a great day of music during Friday of the second weekend.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage | 11:45am – 12:30pm
Have you caught a Blakchyl set yet? The stage name of Te’aunna Moore, the hip hop artist has created a following by sharing her authenticity and lyrically wearing her heart on her sleeve. Born and raised in East Austin, the emcee’s identity as a Black, Queer woman is ingrained into her rhythmic sound. She’s long been an active member of the community and her impact on Austin’s rap scene runs deep, highlighting the value of unabashed expression to our city’s next generation. In perfect timing, the artist will drop her latest album “Better Than I Imagined” on October 5.
7. Rattlesnake Milk
BMI Stage | 1:15 – 2pm
It’s an exciting time to be a country fan in Texas. Formed in Lubbock, Rattlesnake Milk is composed of singer and rhythm guitarist Lou Lewis, lead guitarist Andrew Chavez, bassist Eric Pawlak and Corey “Chencho” Alvarez on drums, with a sound inspired by their upbringing in the vast and lonely flatlands of the Texas Panhandle. While they now call Austin home, their gritty cowpunk storytelling conjures images of small towns and stretches of desolate landscape, skating between temperaments of despair and hope. Catch up on their latest album “Chicken Fried Snake” before the set!
8. Caramelo Haze
BMI Stage | 3:15 – 4:15pm
Caramelo Haze may be newly formed, but this neo-soul / psychedelic Americana / Afro-Colombian folk mashup is the brainchild of four music industry veterans. Beto Martínez, a founding member of Grupo Fantasma, Brownout and Money Chicha, is joined by fellow bandmate and powerful percussionist John Speice, award-winning composer and producer Alex Chavez and Victor “El Guámbito” Cruz, who planted his flag on futuristic Colombian styles through multiple music groups, including Austin-based Nemegata. The longtime collaborators came together in the summer of 2020, finding comfort in creation and the symbiotic flow of musical exploration. Their debut album “NOESTASAQUÍ,” which officially released in 2022, is wildly imaginative and an effortlessly organic jam session. Find them at the BMI Stage during the fest’s final day and good luck staying off of your feet.