White ACL Fest sign on top of a rock ledge

Austin City Limits 2019: The Best Music Festival in Texas

By Jessie Bonner
Music Journalist

Austin City Limits is one of the most anticipated festivals in Texas. People come from all over the United States, and even some other countries, to attend the event. The variety of bands and genres is always diverse and caters to basically every person’s music taste. This year, there were around half a million people in Zilker Park for the festival. 

I chose to go Weekend One because I wanted to see The Kooks, but unfortunately they pulled out due to one of the member’s injuries. Although I was disappointed that one of my favorite bands dropped out, I still saw some amazing artists and had the time of my life. Here were some of my favorites.

Guns N’ Roses

The fact that two timeless rock bands, Guns N’ Roses and The Cure, were on the lineup this year made the festival even more exciting than it already is. Having grown up listening to all kinds of rock in the car with my dad, I knew I needed to see Guns N’ Roses while I had the chance. I was about twenty people back from the barricade and a little left of center. The lead vocalist, Axl Rose, sounded so similar to their recorded music that you could hardly tell he had aged almost 40 years since the band was signed to a label. The crowd sang along to every song; older and younger viewers alike. Although my ears haven’t stopped ringing, it was such an unforgettable night, and I am so glad to have been able to experience it.

 Guns N’ Roses backdrop at the American Express stage in Zilker Park. The backdrop image is of a muscle car with the exhaust blowing out smoke and the back of the car has a skull with a gun at either side of it and roses at the base.
Famous rock band Guns N’ Roses at Austin City Limits. Image by Jessie Bonner.

Troyboi

Troyboi was one of the artists that I was most looking forward to seeing. He is an electronic music artist, which isn’t usually my favorite, but his music is slightly different. The beats he creates are funkier, with less of a popular sound and more of a unique style. I didn’t stop dancing for one second while in this crowd, and neither did anybody else! 

One thing I love about music festivals is that the background visuals are always lively and eclectic, especially the electronic artists. Troyboi was no exception – his visuals were colorful and intricate. For one song he used famous artworks that morphed into one another and were animated so it looked like the people in the paintings were moving a little bit. I thought that was creative and matched his unique style well. 

Troyboi performing at the T-Mobile stage at ACL. The backdrop is a picture of dragons. The crowd is dancing and has their hands in the air.
British EDM producer Troyboi performing at Austin City Limits on October 4, 2019. Image by Jessie Bonner.
Troyboi performing at the T-Mobile stage at ACL. The backdrop is random objects, such as a yin-yang sign, glass balls on podiums, and game controllers.
British EDM producer Troyboi performing at Austin City Limits on October 4, 2019. Image by Jessie Bonner.
Troyboi performing at the T-Mobile stage at ACL. The backdrop is an old Renaissance style painting of cherubs.
British EDM producer Troyboi performing at Austin City Limits on October 4, 2019. Image by Jessie Bonner.

The Japanese House

The Japanese House is the stage name for Amber Bain. Her dreamy indie-electro pop style is the type of music I love to listen to with my headphones in while studying or relaxing. This doesn’t mean, however, that her music isn’t fun and exciting to listen to live. She plays her own guitar and sings beautifully, and the crowd always sings along with so much passion. This kind of unity through a crowd makes me enjoy a performance that much more, because you can feel the emotion in the crowd’s voice, as well as the performer’s.

The Japanese House Performing at the VRBO stage at ACL. Amber Bain is in the center, with a keyboardist to her right and a guitarist to her left.
English singer Amber Bain of The Japanese House performing at Austin City Limits on October 6, 2019. Image by Jessie Bonner.

LANY

LANY is comprised of Paul Klein, Jake Goss and Les Priest. Their synth-pop sound combined with the songwriting makes their music stand out from all the other pop bands out there. One of my favorite things about LANY is the songwriting. The raw emotion and pain put into their latest album Malibu Nights is a perfect example of this. Several people in the crowd around me were crying (I may have, also) because most people can relate to the heartbreak that Klein is singing about feeling, and he conveys these emotions so well.

LANY is, by far, my favorite live performer. Not only is their music some of my favorite, but the stage lighting and backdrops are ethereal and lead singer Klein’s energy on stage is unmatched. He dances around, jumps off of the speakers, talks to and interacts with the crowd and comes up to the barricade and holds people’s hands. He told us how excited he was to be performing at ACL because it was the first time they had ever headlined a stage at a festival, so he was giving it his all and more for us, and he did not disappoint!

Paul Klein in the LANY crowd. He is reaching out with his right hand and holding a fans hand with his left.
Paul Klein of LANY interacting with fans during their performance at Austin City Limits. Image by Jessie Bonner.
LANY performing at Austin City Limits. Paul Klein is in the center at the microphone. The background is a beach with a cloudy sky and the spotlights make the stage pink.
Los Angeles band LANY performing at the VRBO stage at ACL. Image by Jessie Bonner.
LANY performing at Austin City Limits. Paul Klein is in the foreground, singing with one hand raised. The guitarists and drummer are in the background. The backdrop is a video of the band from several years ago.
Los Angeles band LANY performing at the VRBO stage at ACL. Image by Jessie Bonner.

While I saw many other performances over the weekend, these were my favorite moments. Music festivals are a place where everyone can be themselves, dress funky, and have a great time with friends, all while listening to their favorite music. This was my third time at Austin City Limits, and each time it has exceeded my expectations. For anybody asking themselves if it’s worth all the money, the answer is YES! It’s hot, it’s tiring, it’s dusty, and it will be the time of your life.

Featured image by Jessie Bonner.

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