Kendrick Lamar and The Lumineers may have been the headliners on Friday, the first day of Austin City Limits, but the undercard was strong as the Austin festival kicked off the first of two weekends on Friday (Oct. 6).
As we previously mentioned, this year's ACL, set for Oct. 6-8 and Oct. 13-15, also includes newly reunited The Walkmen, FKJ, Sidepiece, Morgan Wade, Jessie Ware, Declan McKenna, Tanya Tucker, Ethel Cain, Yves Tumor, Gus Dapperton, half•alive, Ben Kweller, Sudan Archives, Breland, Michigander, Dope Lemon, Devon Gilfillian, Julia Wolf, Abraham Alexander, Calder Allen, Asleep at the Wheel and more.
Some of our favorites from day 1 are below.
The singer is coming off a strong 2022, having been nominated for the Push Performance of the Year at last year's MTV VMAs and performing at the When We Were Young Festival in Las Vegas. Now, she's kicking off a new North American tour this week, with Austin serving as the launching pad.
While she was late on stage, Barrett made a thunderous entrance on the American Express stage and it was all uphill from there. The crowd had been eagerly awaiting her arrival, and she absolutely delivered. The fourth song in her set also included her live debut of the new song "Club Heaven," which she released on Friday just hours before her performance.
The song is a tribute to her best friend Cooper, whom she sings about on the track, hoping her late friend is dancing is dancing in club heaven. "I had to heal in order to be in a place to release it, and I can’t wait for everyone to feel it with me. This song is for anyone who is missing someone," Barrett said ahead of the song's release.
The Texas singer has been crisscrossing the country over the past year since releasing his debut album, but on Friday, his performance showed why he is absolutely not one to miss.
From the very first seconds of his slot at the IHG stage, Alexander had the crowd enthralled, not for a second regretting their decision to wait under the blistering sun to watch his soulful, gripping performance.
Speaking of soul performances, that is exactly what Breland offered over at the Miller Lite stage, as the New Jersey-born artist served up a genre-defying set fusing country, rap, R&B and gospel sounds, with the audience hypnotized throughout.
At one point, he played a new song which was partly inspired by the loss of a family member last month, with lyrics easily relatable for anyone who's ever experienced loss or a feeling of never-ending grey skies. It was definitely a highlight of his performance.
We can never get enough of Maggie Rogers, but from the opening seconds of her performance on the Honda stage, she had everyone hooked.
Rogers has such a special charisma and it translates so effortlessly on stage. And it makes sense for the singer to be on one of the main stages, as her career path continues to trek upwards, making it a very real possibility she could one day be a headliner herself.
She had Austin absolutely in the palm of her hand for her beautiful, hour-long set.
The artist born Vincent Fenton, known better as French Kiwi Juice (or FKJ), was a dominant force in the cozier Tito's Handmade Vodka tent, where the French musician and singer provided an electric variation of sounds ranging from full-on house vibes to lush jazz.
Of course, once the crowd heard the opening notes of his massive hit "Tadow," the energy was truly infectious, as even casual onlookers were captivated by the extended rendition of the improvised 2017 track which has become one of the French house favorite's most recognizable cuts. It was definitely one of the weekend's standout sets.
It is beyond a mystery to us why Little Simz is not a bigger force in North America as she is in her native London.
The British rapper's T-Mobile stage performance could have easily been a headliner one. Her lyricism is urgent, captivating and without fault, and her rapid-fire delivery is on par with many of her more widely known contemporaries.
Maybe many of the fans gathered around were hardcore fans, but it's probably just as likely many of those gathered around the second-tier stage were suddenly discovering Simz and perhaps their new favorite artist.
Plenty of rappers have come and gone through Zilker Park, but it's hard to pigeonhole Little Simz as simply another "rapper." She is truly an artist, a poet. And we hope the next time she's at Zilker, she'll be playing a larger stage.