By Tania Zapien
For 17 years, Austin City Limits Music Festival has brought some of music’s biggest names and most promising up-and-coming acts to beautiful Zilker Park. This year is no exception. Of course, ACL goers have been anxiously waiting to be in the presence of artists like Childish Gambino, Billie Eillish, Cardi B, Kacey Musgraves, 21 Savage and Lizzo for this year’s festival. However, there are many other phenomenal acts that didn’t make it to the top of the line-up poster but deserve just as much attention. So, here are the top seven underrated artists you MUST see if you’re making your way to ACL for Weekend One.
When I first heard Canadian based hard rock band, cleopatrick, I nearly lost my mind. I could not believe I had gone this long without hearing about them because they are by far one of the acts I am most excited for on this line-up. In a Twenty-One Pilots fashion, cleopatrick is made up of only two members; Luke Gruntz on guitar and vocals and Ian Fraser on drums. Their sound is a mix of catchy lyrical anthems like that of Catfish and the Bottlemen sprinkled with Highly Suspect’s grunge. The guys are currently touring their 2018 EP titled, The Boys and working on their next project, “sanjake.” You can catch them at the BMI stage at 11:45 a.m. on Sunday Oct. 6.
Created and fronted by Clementine Creevy, Cherry Glazerr is an indie-punk rock band out of Los Angeles, California. I first heard of the trio at the beginning of this year and barely missed their SXSW performance. With fast drums, heavy guitars, and switchblade attitude, you can be sure that I won’t be missing this band twice. If you’re feeling rebellious and existential, join me at the Vrbo stage at 2:45 p.m. on Friday Oct. 4.
Nigerian native, TOBi, is an R&B artist based out of Canada. The 25-year-old released his first album STILL earlier this year and was featured in the Ones to Watch music blog shortly after. Influenced by the societal and cultural change of his move from Nigeria to Canada when he was eight years old, TOBi’s soulful rap style along with catchy hooks and bass heavy beats can be compared to that of Anderson .Paak. TOBi will also be playing the BMI stage at 3 p.m. on Sunday Oct. 6.
What surprised me the most about West London singer/songwriter Nilufer Yanya was the beautifully raw tone of her voice. The 23-year-old, who was highly influenced by The Pixies and The Cure growing up, has created a sound of her own by mixing jazz, pop and psychedelic rock. Yanya released her first album, Miss Universe, earlier this year, following her two critically acclaimed EP’s, Small Crimes and Baby Luv. You can catch her at the American Express stage at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday Oct. 6.
Black Pistol Fire
If blues and rock & roll is your thing, you will love Black Pistol Fire. The indie blues duo made up of Eric Owen (drums) and Kevin McKeown (guitar/vocals), is originally from Toronto, Canada but relocated to Austin in 2010. They have been compared to legends like the White Stripes, The Black Keys and Band of Skulls and have been all over the festival scene since the release of their 2014 album, Hush or Howl. If you want to know why the Huffington Post declared BPF to be the “next big thing”, head over to the Miller Lite stage at 2:45 p.m. on Friday Oct. 4.
At just 19 years old, Mikayla Simpson has made a name for herself. She emerged into the music scene in 2018 and quickly gained recognition for her laid back, feel good, soul rap. Her sound is based on reggae element, perfectly adapting the sound for this generation. Recently she has been known for her remix of Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber’s collaboration track, “I Don’t Care.” Make sure you catch her set at the T-Mobile stage at 3 p.m. on Sunday Oct. 6.
Founded in 2012 by singer Melissa Brooks, The Aquadolls is a blend of bedroom pop and pure teenage angst. This all-female garage-rock band has played festivals alongside staples like Weezer and The Growlers as a result of their 2014 debut album titled Stoked on You. If California vibes with a punch of feminism is your style, head to the Miller Lite stage for their set at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday Oct. 5.
This year’s festival is guaranteed to put several new artists on the map. Weekend one is already sold out, but a limited amount of wristbands and single tickets are still available for weekend two! Head over the the ACL website for tickets, more info on who’s playing, and a day-by-day schedule. Happy festing!
Featured image by Tania Zapien.