Country Music at ACL

After these past two weekends, I’ve heard the same question in almost every conversation, whether I was involved in the conversation or not.

“Did you see who performed at ACL this year?”

acl_music_festIf you are from Austin or anywhere close to it, you almost undoubtedly know what people are referring to when referring to “ACL”. It stands for Austin City Limits music festival and is one of the biggest events held in Austin all year. Before I started attending the University of Texas here in Austin, I never really knew much about it since I am from Fort Worth. Little did I know, how much fun it was and how big of an event it was for all music industries and artists.

This year I attended ACL for my first time and even though the price for a weekend wristband is ridiculous, it was well worth the price, even with the crowds and warm weather. I was very surprised at the variety of music genres present at the festival. What I didn’t realize was that country artists were just as popular as the headliners were this year. The big names I saw on the list were Drake, The Weeknd, and Foo Fighters and while the crowds were massive for them, the crowds were big for everyone.

Some of the country artists who performed this year were Dwight Yoakem and Sturgill Simpson. Compared to previous years this years artists aren’t as popular compared to some of the artists who have performed at ACL like George Strait, Reba McEntire, and Waylon Jennings. (Not that I was at any of these performances, since they were all before the year 2000.) I had heard of these two artists before but I didn’t know the name of their songs but still enjoyed them a lot!

80Sturgill Simpson was very entertaining and the crowd for him was just as big as many other artists at the show. As some bloggers and writers online noted, not many people were two-stepping to the music but it still turned out to be a popular show.

He showed his outlaw-ish charm and while his music doesn’t deal with topics rated for PG audiences, I did see some younger audience members in attendance. I didn’t realize that all ages came to ACL, especially for artists who didn’t exactly sing about sunshine and rainbows.

While Simpson and Yoakam’s performance might not be considered in the category of “Best Country Artist Performances at ACL History”, they were both good in my opinion. Some of the performances that would fall under that category would be:

  • Willie Nelson 1974
  • Garth Brooks 1990
  • Hank Williams Jr. 1980
  • George Strait 1982
  • Waylon Jennings 1985
  • Merle Haggard 1978

These are a few that some people have put in their top 10 under that category and watching some of the performances online, I would have to say they were very good.

My first ACL experience was great including artists such as Drake, Echosmith, Twenty One Pilots, The Weeknd, Disclosure, Dwight Yoakam, Sturgill Simpson, and many more! I highly recommend attending the event next year if you haven’t ever attended it before!


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 2, Concert, Live Music

6 Responses to Country Music at ACL

  1. Like I mentioned on Canvas, I am envious that you got to see Sturgill Simpson. I wanted to because I hear he’s a great performer, but the Saturday wristbands sold out too quickly. I’m curious what you made of Dwight Yoakam, though? To my knowledge, he’s never been criticized as “not country,” and yet he has a lot of rockabilly influence and sings covers of Elvis & Queen songs. The people I was standing around for his show were obviously fans — they were dancing and mouthing ALL the words. It was intense.

  2. Kayla Miracle

    I attended ACL this weekend, as I did last year, because it is my favorite place in the world. I love the good vibes and the jamming to really cool artists but I do wish they had a wider variety of country music artists to listen to as well. I didn’t go see Dwight or Sturgill, honestly, because I hadn’t ever heard of them but I did hear Sturgill from afar and he sounded pretty good (I might have to give him a listen). I had no idea that such big country acts ever played at ACL, like George Strait ARE YOU KIDDING THAT’S SO COOL??!!!? I definitely think that ACL should consider acting more country acts to the lineup, we are in Texas for crying out loud. I can see bands like Josh Abbott or Kasey Musgraves playing the fest. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. Darah Welch

    Adam! I really enjoyed hearing about your first experience at Austin City Limits! I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t know about the country music performers this year but from what you have to say about them it seems like they were pretty entertaining. I think it is interesting that the festival does not feature as many country music artists these days. Maybe it is because the Austin music scene has veered more towards alternative and indie genres with the hipster movement. I feel like ACL does a great job of finding musicians to satisfy festival goers of all types. It would be nice to see some bigger country names next year!

  4. Lauren Harris

    I love that you wrote about this because I have been going to ACL for six years and there are always a few country singers but never on a big stage. I never end up seeing the country performers because all of my friends want to see the indie, rap, or dub step artists. I enjoy all types of music but country is my favorite so I hope that some day they will have bigger country singers like they used to. I am not sure if you have ever heard of it, but in May there is a weekend festival called JAB Fest that is on the LBJ library lawn. It is two days with two stages of all country music artists(usually Texas country). I have gone to it for two years and love it! It is a smaller, countrified ACL and I recommend it to any students who are country music fans.

  5. Sierra Smith

    I really enjoyed reading your post because I too attended ACL this year! Like you, I also didn’t know what ACL was when I first came to Austin. Everyone kept asking me in the beginning of freshman year if I was going… And since I had no idea what it was I said no. Well good thing my friends convinced me to buy a ticket because last year at ACL was just as much fun as this year was in my opinion! Last year the Turnpike Troubadours played and I had no idea who they were when my friend dragged me to see them. But it was definitely worth the while getting to learn some of their songs and experiencing practically my “first country concert.” Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Dwight Yoakem or Sturgill Simpson this year, but hopefully next year at ACL I will be able to see some great country performances!

  6. Tyler Dial

    Dear Adam,
    Thank you for writing this review on country music at ACL! I wasn’t able to go so it’s nice to read recaps like yours. Man, I really wish Austin would bring back more big name country acts to ACL, however, my roommate did tell me that Sturgill Simpson killed it! Apparently he didn’t even talk? I also didn’t know that people like Garth have played at ACL. Could you imagine if he did that again? It would be pretty funny to see an empty Drake concert because everyone is at the Garth stage… You never know! Thanks for a good article.

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