A losing lineup

2022 ACL music festival misses the mark with younger generations, fails to include new artists


Julian Magee

The Black Pumas perform at the 2021 ACL festival. In 2021 and 2022, more than 70,000 people attended ACL each day of the festival. Some Austin residents feel that while these numbers are not sustainable and harm Zilker Park in the long-term.

Sofia Thatcher, staff reporter

This year’s Austin City Limits lineup is the worst in years. The 2022 crop of bands is not as popular or appealing as in the past, and the artist lineup is repetitive. ACL has gone downhill since 2019. The lineups have also gotten unpopular; younger crowds aren’t as drawn to the older and returning artists.

ACL is getting lazier, but it has also been failing to branch out to new, culturally diverse, or different genres of artists. The genres lacking are country and rock. Although the festival started off as mainly country music, that genre seems to have slowly faded away.

In the 2022 lineup, the main genres are indie and pop. For example, there are many indie artists like Wallows, Oliver Tree and Paramore. On the other hand, there are also many pop artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, Conan Gray and P!NK.

ACL is getting lazier, but it has also been failing to branch out to new, culturally diverse, or different genres of artists.

The festival seems to be unable to attract or recruit the artists that have grown in popularity in their respective genres. ACL has had many repeat artists throughout the years. Artists that have attended the festival multiple times include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rosalia and Kacey Musgraves. The Red Hot Chili Peppers first performed at ACL in 2012, then in 2017, and now they will perform again in 2022. Kacey Musgraves has also made multiple appearances in 2016, 2019, and she will be playing the festival again this year.

Since its founding in 2002, ACL has become much more crowded. The food vendors have raised their prices, and the tickets are also becoming increasingly expensive. These factors make ACL unappealing. The weekend festival used to be a small music festival for locals with music selections catered to them. Now people travel from all over the state just to attend. In 2002, it was a two-day festival; one-day passes cost $25, and two-day passes cost $45. Around 67 bands played, and 42,000 people attended. Last year, one-day ticket prices started at around $135; meanwhile, weekend passes started at $300 with roughly 75,000 people attending each day. There were also more than 125 performances over the three days.

I have enjoyed ACL and the experience in the past, and I will continue to do so if they can improve these aspects of the festival. Austin City Limits should expand its artist pool. A solution is reaching out to newer artists and bands. Another solution is not inviting the same artists or at least making sure that returning artists are popular enough to where people want to see them again. ACL should also choose its artists to ensure greater genre diversity.