Austin City Limits returns to Zilker Park in Austin, Texas for two consecutive weekends, October 5-7 and October 12-14, to gift hundreds of thousands of ecstatic fans with some of the best music out there. With artists like Paul McCartney, ODESZA, Metallica, Travis Scott, Arctic Monkeys, Khalid, BROCKHAMPTON, and more topping the bill, there is enough here for quite literally anyone.
The same is true when one looks at the undercard, where one will find a myriad of noteworthy acts from a vast array of genres. With eight stages and over 130 acts performing, choosing where to start may appear to be a daunting and insurmountable task, but that’s exactly what we’re here for. We combed through this year’s Austin City Limits lineup to hand-select ten hidden gems, in addition to a helpful playlist to familiarize you with each of your soon-to-be new favorite musical discoveries.
When & Where: Saturday (10/06 & 10/13), 3:30pm at Barton Springs
The solo project of Philadelphia musician Michelle Zauner, Japanese Breakfast is indie rock perfection. Drawing from the world of lo-fi indie pop and utilizing varied synth-assisted instrumentation the Japanese Breakfast project felt varied and inventive since its first full-length outing, 2016’s Psychopomp. Chronicling the emotional fallout following her mother’s death, Zauner had planned Psychopomp to be the only Japanese Breakfast record. As anyone reading this in 2018 can attest, this was not the case, with Japanese Breakfast releasing the acclaimed sophomore effort Soft Sounds from Another Planet. A sprawling assortment of indie pop that explored themes of grief, outer space, and dead pop stars, Japanese Breakfast proved herself to be more than just an indie darling.
When & Where: Saturday (10/13), 12:00pm at Miller Lite
Lo Moon’s music pulls you further and further into their cinematic world. The Los Angeles-based alternative pop-rock outfit currently only has one album to their name, their self-titled debut, but their musical world already only feels expansive. This is in large part thanks to the magical ways the Los Angeles trio structures their songs. Creating an atmospheric soundscape made of ethereal guitar work, reverberant synths, and yearning lyricism, each Lo Moon track takes you on an otherworldly journey that we wished could go on forever. Earning much-deserved comparisons to fellow vibe-crafting giants The xx, Cocteau Twins, and CHVRCHES, Lo Moon is poised to be the next big name in atmospheric pop.
When & Where: Friday (10/05 & 10/07), 2:45pm at HomeAway
Fatimah Warner, more popularly known by the moniker Noname, may have released one of the best albums of 2018. The critically-lauded Room 25 witnessed a Noname who truly mastered her craft. The poetic nature that defines her distinctive brand of hip-hop remains, but it signaled the maturation and evolution of one of music’s brightest voices. Encompassing themes of sexual exploration, ongoing racial tensions, and emotional anxieties, the Noname of 2018 and beyond is one at the pinnacle of her craft. Set to embark on a winter tour in support of the new material, fans lucky enough to attend Austin City Limits will be treated to Noname’s lyrical talents and one of the finest albums of the year months ahead of everyone else.
When & Where: Sunday (10/07 & 10/14), 3:00pm at Miller Lite
Brooklyn-by-way-of-Texas band Parquet Courts create noise-driven punk rock that defies simple classification. The band’s brand of art punk is fronted by vocalists Andrew Savage and Austin Brown whose vocal delivery switch from rushed shouts with an inescapable urgency to frantic yet monotone conversational tone. Combine that with the jangly background of fellow bandmates Sean Yeaton and Max Savage and you have something that is still quite undefinable but calls back memories to the likes of the Talking Heads. With a wellspring of material to pull from, spanning the range of everything from dance punk to new wave, a live Parquet Courts show is not to be missed, ensuing mosh pit and all.
When & Where: Friday (10/05 & 10/12), 12:00pm at American Express
Natalie Prass released her critically-acclaimed, self-titled debut album in 2015, yet the long-awaited follow-up would not arrive until 2018. There is a good reason for this. Having recorded and finished what was to be her sophomore release, Prass was confronted with the reality of the 2018 election. Deciding to rewrite the record, the end result was the striking The Future and Past, a sonic work of art and feminist statement. Exploring ageless struggles of equality and individuality through 12 sprawling twelve tracks of brilliant songwriting, Prass’ work feels particularly relevant today. Indeed, with her latest release, she has cemented herself as an artist 2018 needs.
When & Where: Saturday (10/13), 12:45pm at Honda
New Jersey native Donna Missal first turned heads in 2015 with her debut single “Keep Lying,” which showcased an irrefutably soulful and emotive new voice in music. Intermittently releasing a series of singles in the years to come, the excitement surrounding Missal was palpable. With a voice and take on pop and R&B that transcends time, the only thing Missal seemingly did not have was a wellspring of material to pull from. All of that changed in 2018, with the release of her highly-anticipated debut album, This Time. An expansive 11-track album that illustrates why Missal is such a lasting voice in R&B and beyond, she will have a wellspring of new material to pull from come Austin City Limits.
When & Where: Friday (10/05), 4:45pm at Miller Lite
Greta Van Fleet is a band with the unique ability to make you forget what year, or generation, you’re in. The project of four young musicians out of the small Michigan hamlet of Frankenmuth, Greta Van Fleet is making rock ‘n roll that instantly transports you back to its golden era. More than simple nostalgia for classic ‘60s and ‘70s rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, the Michigan quartet instill their newfound brand of rock with messages and sentiments that speak to the values and concerns of people today. Currently working toward their long-awaited debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, which will explore themes of love, integrity, diversity, peace, and more, Austin City Limits will be one of the first places to hear the new material live.
When & Where: Sunday (10/07), 11:30am at Miller Lite
Formerly known as Bird Dog, Tulsa, Oklahoma rockers Wilderado makes the sort of music that feels intrinsically timeless. The quartet strays the line between pulsing indie rock and heartfelt folk to deliver a sound and performance that feels perfectly at home no matter the setting. Debuting with the Misty Shrub EP in 2017, the band arrived at their sound fully-formed but have continued to evolve, as is made readily apparent on their latest collection of songs, 2018’s Favors. A succinct yet developed four-song collection that sees Wilderado taking their indie rock influence to new heights, it marks a new and much-applauded stage for the band.
When & Where: Sunday (10/07), 5:00pm at BMI
Hailey Knox may have found her start posting acoustic covers of pop hits online, but the rising star has since outgrown her viral beginnings to develop into a fully-formed artist. The Knox of today is one who infuses impressive technical prowess and soulful lyricism into her meticulously crafted brand of pop. That is not to say the New York-based singer-songwriter does not still retain a certain fondness for covers. Looping herself and mashing together pop, hip-hop, and rock favorites, Knox’s live show is brimming with surprises. Throw that in with her own infectious material, and you have an Austin City Limits set not to miss.
When & Where: Sunday (10/14), 11:30am at BMI
Davie’s fusion of varied musical styles blends into something truly unique and tantalizing. The Los Angeles-based singer and producer brings together the worlds of Prince-reminiscent funk and the left-field pop and R&B leanings of Frank Ocean all into one undeniably soulful package. It’s the sort of music that compels you to groove and move. Releasing the two-part EP, Music By Davie in 2016, the world gained an artist who looked into music’s storied past to create something new. Serving as a brilliant introduction DAVIE, he would further deliver upon the grand entrance in the 2017’s follow-up, Black Gospel Vol. 1, and is sure to continue to delivering with his moving live show.