In normal times, we'd be preparing for the first weekend of Austin City Limits Music Festival, picking out our outfit, planning our route to Zilker Park, and coordinating set times. But these are abnormal times, so instead, we're preparing for the next best thing: a free, virtual experience.
On October 6, the fest rolled out details for the first-ever virtual ACL Music Fest, a three-day musical event streamed live on YouTube. Beginning at 7:05 pm each night on October 9-11, music fans can tune in and hear past ACL performances from headliners such as Billie Eilish, Willie Nelson, St. Vincent, Paul McCartney, Gary Clark Jr., Radiohead, Phish, Queens of the Stone Age, Alabama Shakes, and more.
"Generations of music fans who have been raised on the annual weekend tradition of gathering in Zilker Park prepare to soak up diverse musical sounds as a united community. Memories are made, and stories that will be told for a lifetime unfold," organizers said in a release. "ACL Fest 2020 will provide fans a connection to their greatest memories of ACL’s past, where they were and who they were with, and the sensation of experiencing live music outdoors with thousands of people who share a common sense of pride in community and love of music."
In addition to Willie Nelson and Gary Clark Jr., the Live Music Capital of the World will be well represented, naturally. The Austin Parks Foundation, the festival's nonprofit partner, will host Austin-based artists filmed in "unique park locations across the city." Viewers can catch Jackie Venson at the Pan Am Neighborhood Park, Mélat from the Zilker Botanical Gardens, Los Coast playing at the nearby Zilker Clubhouse, and Otis the Destroyer performing at Heath Eiland and Morgan Moss BMX Skatepark.
Tito's Handmade Vodka is also sponsoring a special live music event spotlighting Austin artists Black Pumas and Mobley, who will perform from the Tito's farm.
ACL Fest is as much a music festival as it is a celebration of community and Texas. In that spirit, the weekend's programming will include tips about Texas barbecue from Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, LeRoy & Lewis, and SLAB BBQ, an appearance by Austin’s own Louisianna Purchase, and a special performance from the Barton Hills Choir.
And because it's not an Austin celebration without Matthew McConaughey, the A-lister will host a panel discussion as part of the festival's Make Change initiative. McConaughey will be in conversation with tennis great Andy Roddick; Olympic track star turned Austin nonprofit founder Raaisin McIntosh; and Thurman and Torrence Thomas, founders of Tank Proof, a Louisiana-based organization that teaches local children how to swim.
ACL is also promising appearances by local community leaders and former UT football stars, special Austin City Limits (the TV show) programming, and backstage footage from past festivals. See a full schedule and detailed lineup here.
Access is free and all three days can be streamed online via the ACL website or via YouTube. To support the festival during this time, make sure to check out the official ACL Music Festival 2020 merchandise and gear at the official store.