AUSTIN (KXAN) — Summer might just be around the corner but Austin music lovers’ attention has shifted to the first two weekends in October following the release of the 2023 Austin City Limits Music Festival lineup.
The annual concert series will feature the Foo Fighters, Kendrick Lamar and Shania Twain among its headlining sets when the festival returns to Zilker Park Oct. 6-8 and Oct. 13-15.
ACL Radio’s Andy Langer sat down with KXAN Tuesday following the lineup’s release. He referred to this year’s bunch as a slew of “big, recognizable names” that speak to the festival’s core demographics.
“There’s a lot of, ‘who’s that? I don’t know who these people are’ — that’s a common reaction to lineup releases. And you’re not going to get that from this one,” Langer said. “There’s gonna be opinions, but on this one, you’ve got a bunch of big, recognizable names that fall off pretty safely into a demo that we know to be the Austin City Limits Music Festival demo. It’s almost a perfectly curated look.”
This year’s headliners also include some ACL veterans who’ve performed at the festival in recent years. Despite the reappearance of artists like Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar and the Foo Fighters, Langer categorized their returns as indications that these are ticket-selling artists who’ve proven to draw crowds to ACL.
“At one end of the spectrum, you’re trying to sell tickets. You’re trying to sell tickets to folks that maybe only will know a handful of acts on this thing,” he said, adding: “The one that I think is going to probably drive the most tickets to folks that might not have ordinarily gone to the festival and the one that you’ll see people all day long anticipating this one set: That’s going to be weekend one with Shania Twain.”
Each year comes with the anticipation and predictions from residents on who might join the lineup, theories tested in part by analyzing performers at other national festivals and evaluating where certain artists are touring geographically come early October. Langer said at the end of the day, tour routing is the biggest decision maker for determining who’s a legitimate lineup prediction and who won’t make the cut.
“The touring industry is all about routing,” he said. “It’s can you get here and then have places to play right after to make sense. So you’ve got to be touring in that part of the year, and you’ve got to be touring in that part of the country.”
Following the lineup’s drop Tuesday morning, Langer said he saw some chatter noting disappointment that artists like Stevie Nicks, Lana Del Rey and boygenius weren’t listed on the roster. He said not everyone will love every artist on the setlist, but unexpected acts like Shania Twain, The 1975 and Hozier will please others.
And he referred to Twain’s headlining appearance as a “pretty big surprise” for the 2023 ACL Music Festival. She appeared in Austin last month for the CMT Music Awards, which made its broadcasting debut from Austin after historically taking place in Nashville.
With her, Langer said she’s a key ingredient to the festival’s success, opening up the opportunity to attract music lovers who might not traditionally frequent ACL.
“It’s a pretty big get,” he said. “This is an arena/stadium star, a legacy act and a legacy act that’s just a little bit left of the traditional ACL festival center. Shania Twain is going to sell a bunch of tickets for this festival.”