The Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival is an annual event that usually takes place in Zilker Park, a publicly-owned stretch of over 350 acres with a gorgeous view of the Austin, TX skyline.
But of course, this year, Zilker Park will be empty during the festival for the first time in its 18-year run.
Instead, Virtual ACL will take place from Friday, October 9 through Sunday, October 11. All times are CDT. Tune in for free streaming on YouTube, and read on to learn more about this unique music experience.
How will a virtual Austin City Limits Music Fest work?
The promotion for ACL 2020 is mostly a love letter to ACL of years past:
A year without Austin City Limits Music Festival is hard to imagine. Since 2002, we haven’t let rain, heat, cold, dust or mud stop us from gathering for a weekend of live music in Zilker Park. This year, the safest place to be is at home.
Mark your calendars for October 9-11, 2020 as we commemorate the festival weekend with a special free broadcast dedicated to everyone in the Austin City Limits family. Full details coming soon.
Though they aren’t outright saying it, ACL has curated this year’s virtual festival from previously recorded performances at ACL. How they chose the lineup, I do not know – but it’s sure to be fun.
The biggest blast from the past will be String Cheese Incident’s 2003 performance. Most of the other performances are from the last five years. (Calling all String Cheese Incident fans – this is your time!)
So, no, you won’t see livestreams of these artists performing to almost nobody. That’s working okay for sports, but a concert’s energy can’t be recreated with fake crowd cheers.
Waching the whole thing might prove to be an interesting journey through time. Plus, if you’ve been to ACL and had a favorite performer, you might get to relive that experience.
Hey, it’s better than watching a concert through someone’s Instagram Story, right?
Two rising Texan artists, Mélat and Paul Cathen, will perform sets on Friday night. They seem to be the only two artists with slots that aren’t pre-recorded.
As a silver lining, these are two artists that may have been looked past had the festival been live. Smaller acts typically draw much smaller audiences because they perform earlier in the day. This is when people typically start waiting at the stage where they’ll see their favorite headliner hours later, wander around looking for food, or pass by different stages just to get a taste of their vibe.
Mélat and Cauthen will both have the chance to make a much bigger impression on a large streaming audience. We’ll go into deeper details on their stories and music below.
Now, let’s talk this lineup:
Friday, Oct. 9
7:05 p.m. – Durand Jones & The Indications (2018)
7:45 p.m. – Mélat (Presented by the Austin Parks Foundation)
Austin Native and up-and-coming artist Mélat will get a live spot this year:
Born in Austin, Texas, Mélat is the eclectic soul of modern RnB. Mélat tells a story that is both challenging and inspiring crafted from her very own life experiences. It is a pure and honest reflection of her soul. From love, lust, success, to failure Mélat sings of what it means to be a human being simply longing to “be.” – bandcamp
7:50 p.m. – Paul Cauthen (Presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka)
Tyler, TX native and resident of Dallas, Paul Cauthen, specializes in neotraditional country, alternative country, outlaw country and Americana.
In 2019, Cauthen released his second solo record called Room 41. At one point Cauthen considered calling the record Holy Ghost Fire after that track on the album, but eventually settled on Room 41. The title of the record is in honor of the room number where Cauthen lived at the Belmont Hotel in West Dallas, Texas, for almost two years while he wrote the record.
Room 41 was the culmination of a dark period in Cauthen’s life, prompted by the end of a long-term relationship in Wichita Falls, Texas. Cauthen relocated to Dallas and while writing prolifically, went through a period of alcohol and drug abuse.
Cauthen is nicknamed Big Velvet for his distinctive baritone voice.
8:10 p.m. – Commitment to Community by Salesforce’s “Make Change”
Matthew McConaughey hosts the first session of Salesforce’s “Make Change” Initiative. The first session, “Commitment to Community,” will involve a conversation with tennis star Andy Roddick, Olympian Raasin McIntosh, and Texas entrepreneurs Thurman and Torrence Thomas.
8:30 p.m. – Spoon (2017)
8:50 p.m. – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (2016)
9:10 p.m. – Texas Monthly Presents: On the Road Again
9:15 p.m. – Willie Nelson (2016)
10:20 p.m. – Twenty One Pilots (2015)
10:50 p.m. – Billie Eilish (2019)
Saturday, Oct. 10
7:05 p.m. – Sylvan Esso (2018)
7:20 p.m. – Zhu (2017)
7:50 p.m. – Phoenix (2018)
8:05 p.m. – “Education” by Salesforce’s “Make Change”
This second session, “Education,” will be moderated by Victor B. Sáenz, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. This conversation will focus on “College Forward,” an organization that aims to help underserved high school students get to college.
8:20 p.m. – Otis the Destroyer
8:25 p.m. – Black Pumas
9:15 p.m. – Juanes (2014)
9:50 p.m. – St. Vincent (2018)
10:10 p.m. – LCD Soundsystem (2010)
10:30 p.m. – Radiohead (2016)
11:30 p.m. – Queens of the Stone Age (2013)
Sunday, Oct. 11
7:05 p.m. – Alabama Shakes (2015)
7:20 p.m. – String Cheese Incident (2003)
7:50 p.m. – Los Coast
8:00 p.m. – Mobley
8:55 p.m. – Jackie Venson
9:00 p.m. – Gary Clark Jr. (2019)
9:30 p.m. – Paul McCartney (2018)
10:15 p.m. – The XX (2017)
10:45 p.m. – My Morning Jacket (2011)
11:20 p.m. – Phish (2010)
Other special appearances by:
- Evan Leroy
- Miguel Vidal
- Shakey Graves
- Austin Buchan
- Greg Noire
- Paige Ellis
- Mayor Steve Adler
- Barton Hills Choir
- Louisiana Purchase
- Sydney Gawlik
- Bryan Stevenson
- Mark Avalos
- The Red Bull Skydive Team
- Charles Reagan
- Ricky Williams
- Victor Sáenz
- Donn’s Depot
Get excited with the teaser below!
“There’s so much. Every neighborhood has its own kind of feel and culture,” an Austin resident gushes in the promo. “It’s the best time to be in Austin,” another says.
“That’s the most exciting part about being part of Austin. You get to experience some things that you didn’t. You don’t have to leave the town – you can just stay here, and [those experiences] come to you.”
“You’re living in the city that attracts some of the best musicians in the world – [ACL] is like being in your back yard.”
The world looks different this year, but it keeps on turning. Will you be “attending” this adaptation of ACL?