Once every year, for two consecutive weekends, hundreds of thousands of ecstatic music fans flock to Austin, Texas, for Austin City Limits–a music festival showcasing the best in hip-hop, rock, indie, folk, electronic, and every genre under the sun. Featuring over a hundred performers, combing through the massive lineup can very much feel like a daunting task, especially once one gets past the festival regulars and heavy-hitters like The Killers, Jay-Z, Glass Animals, Zhu, and The XX.
No need to fret though, as we here at Ones To Watch have gone ahead and done all the much-needed research to discover some of ours, and soon-to-be yours, favorite undercard artists currently making waves ahead of this year’s Austin City Limits.
Time & Place: Sunday (10/08 & 10/15) at 11:45am, Miller Lite
Emerging from the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia is the talented indie pop singer-songwriter Amy Shark. Shark first began to receive recognition after picking up three rewards at the Queensland Music Awards, and it was shortly thereafter that Shark would receive national recognition with her hit single “Adore.” The sentimentally strung acoustic number would strike a visible chord with listeners as it climbed to the top of the triple j charts and racked up over 24-million plays on Spotify alone. “Adore” feels like the perfect sonic embodiment of Shark as an artist, sentimental to a heart-shattering degree backed by simple instrumentation that allows for her natural lyrical talent to shine. Surely a set not to miss for those looking for sun-drenched sincere poetry under the Austin sun.
Time & Place: Sunday (10/08) at 11:45am, Barton Springs & Saturday (10/14) at 12:45pm, American Express
In a time where it seems almost unfashionable to make straight-forward rock songs, Billy Raffoul is doing just that and demonstrating how needed this brand of music is. Simplistically orchestrated, yet immeasurably deep in nature and feeling, Raffoul’s songs are commanding from first listen. Part of the commanding nature of Raffoul’s music lies in his voice–gravelly and imbued with soul, Raffoul’s voice adds a layer of texture that have earned him much-deserved comparisons to Jeff Buckley and Neil Young. As for what Raffoul will bring to his live show, I’ll allow Raffoul’s words to do the rest of the talking, “I think that even in this ever-changing music business there will always be a thirst for live performance and that’s what I want to do. That’s always been the goal. Connect with people, one room at a time.”
Time & Place: Saturday (10/07) at 3:00pm, BMI
Reginald Williams Jr., more popularly known by his stage name R.LUM.R, delved into the world of R&B explosively with a series of singles that instantly put him on the map. A clear standout was “Frustrated,” with its wobbly production providing the backing soundtrack for R.LUM.R’s voice to soar to grand heights, as he shifted between vocal registers with impressive ease. It was only a matter of time before praise for the emerging star began to roll in from the likes of Billboard, NPR, and Spotify to name a select few. Eager to not keep fans waiting too long, R.LUM.R followed up this initial wave of buzz with his debut EP, the stunning AFTERIMAGE, which saw him fully leveraging his clear R&B talents with captivating production.
(SANDY) Alex G
Time & Place: Friday (10/06 & 10/13) at 1:15pm, Barton Springs
(SANDY) Alex G may very well be the poster boy of indie stardom. Self-releasing lo-fi bedroom recordings on Bandcamp throughout the years, Alex G earned himself a loyal and devoted cult following, which apparently even included the likes of Frank Ocean. Alex G saw a rapid rise in popularity after appearing throughout both Ocean’s Blonde and the visual album Endless, as well as joining Ocean a backing guitarist on his current tour. Additionally, Alex G’s pervasiveness expands past the adoring eyes of devoted fans and Frank Ocean, as the rising start has received bountiful critical acclaim from Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, Stereogum, as well as numerous others. So, go ahead and take ours and Frank Ocean’s word for it when we say Alex G is one to catch.
Time & Place: Saturday (10/14) at 4:00pm, Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Nick Hakim floats above his tracks. Airy and smooth, Hakim lulls one with his vocals before delving into a range of experimentation, from psychedelic guitar riffs to out-of-the-box sonic experimentation. Hakim is an artist deeply respectful of the origins of sounds past with an active desire to see in what ways he can actively transform this love and bring into a previously unheard future. A sense of childhood fantasy, akin to Alice in Wonderland, pervades Hakim’s music, as he transports the listener to an entire world entirely. This is in large part due to the psychedelic and experimental instrumentation, but is also the result of the way in which Hakim modifies his voice with layers of reverberation to create a sense of otherworldliness, as if he is singing to you behind a layer of smoke from another dimension entirely. For how Hakim, will bring about this otherworldly experience live, there’s only one way to find out.
Time & Place: Saturday (10/07 & 10/14) at 1:00pm, Barton Springs
It’s hard to argue against the chance to see Mondo Cozmo live. The alternative rock artist has found himself on the bill of nearly every music festival of the 2017 summer season. To top it all off rave reviews have continued to roll in festival after festival, as Mondo Cozmo has been championed as the top festival performer at Governors Ball, Bonnaroo, Boston Calling, Shaky Knees, Forecastle Festival, and Summerfest. The outpouring of affection for Mondo Cozmo feels unparalleled, and one listen makes it perfectly clear why. Mondo Cozmo’s music rings out with the power of arena-ready anthems, urging audiences across the world to raise their hands and sing along, even if they may not yet know the lyrics. As someone who ended up at Mondo Cozmo’s Outside Lands performance by pure chance, I can say with confidence that Mondo Cozmo has fully lived up to these claims of being an extravagant live performer. If Mondo Cozmo keeps delivering shows like these, it’s only a matter of time until he finds himself headlining these very festivals soon enough.
Time & Place: Sunday (10/08) at 1:15pm, BMI
Charlotte Cardin’s music actively defies simple classification. Existing simultaneously in the realm of smoky, underground jazz and modern pop with a downtempo spin, Cardin time and time again proves herself as an artist pursuing innovation with unadulterated respect for past musical traditions. Her latest EP Main Girl, serves as a shining example of what exactly makes Cardin such an intriguing act. Whether Cardin’s voice is belting over an electronic piano ballad or fluttering softly over a nu jazz rendition, her voice radiates such an intensity that it never fails to completely envelop the space. For those lucky enough to find their way to Cardin’s set, one is sure to find themselves swathed in a sultry sound that is as timeless as it is alluring.
Photo: Michael Amico
Time & Place: Saturday (10/14) at 3:00pm, Barton Springs
If anyone has earned the right to call themselves a guitar virtuoso, it is 21-year-old Tash Sultana. Picking up the guitar at the ripe age of three, she currently plays as if she never once let go. From busking on the streets of her native Melbourne, Australia to her guitar playing going viral, Sultana is an artist who has poured every ounce of herself into her artistic pursuits, and people have certainly taken notice. With only a single EP to her name, Notion, Sultana has sold out every headlining show she’s booked across multiple countries and found herself at the top of the triple j and iTunes’ charts. Her skills with the guitar an undeniable, but that is not Sultana’s only strong suit, as her voice caries an ethereal and powerful quality that sails impeccably alongside her mesmerizing guitar riffs.
Time & Place: Saturday (10/07 & 10/14) at 1:15pm, Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Allan Rayman is an artist in the truest sense, immersing himself in not only the world of music, but all things artistic, from fashion to cinema. This artistic and aesthetic ethos permeates how he crafts and delivers his music. Releasing two albums seemingly out of nowhere, Hotel Allan in 2016 and Roadhouse 01 in 2017, the projects were mysterious and soulful, as Rayman’s voice crooned across without the need for any superfluous and grandiose media or marketing campaigns. In an age entrenched with social media and information overload, Rayman allowed all of his art to do the talking, and the voice that emerged was vehement indeed. The pure artistic intention can be felt throughout every moment of Rayman’s songs, as the downtempo production, broken chords, and haunting synths create a sonic layer for Rayman’s enigmatic nature to pervade the listener’s deepest core. So, this Austin City Limits, get lost in the mystery that is Allan Rayman for yourself.