Underground bands to watch at Austin City Limits 2018 (before it’s cool)

David Antonino

Before you plan your weekend around the main headliners of Austin City Limits Music Festival, be sure to check out the quality underground artists scheduled at the festival. Here are the lesser-known artists to look out for this ACL season, categorized by genre:

Metal & Alt-Rock: Arkells

A major Canadian alt-rock band, Arkells, is breaking the barrier into the American music industry. Their music boasts a vibrant urgency and maintains crisp, sharp sounds. They have won numerous Juno awards, which some consider the Canadian Grammys, most recently in 2015.

Classic & Indie Rock: The Coronas 

Straight out of Dublin, The Coronas take inspiration from legendary Irish rock band, U2. However, they mix in a much more relaxed vibe that relies more on songwriting than beat. In fact, they beat out U2 in 2010 for Best Irish Album at the Meteor Awards.

Electronic: Lemaitre

An electronic duo out of Oslo, Norway, Lemaitre blends electronic beats with smooth lyrics in a style reminiscent to that of English group Clean Bandit. 

Synth & Indie Pop: slenderbodies

This band comes at the genre with a unique flair and soothing lyrics. They lead with their vocals, pitch and timbre. Slenderbodies’ songs are supposed to make you feel “a warm breeze of equatorial air.”

Pop: Mikky Ekko

After his breakout feature in Rihanna’s 2013 song “Stay,” this artist is attempting to turn pop on its head. He is replacing catchy, yet repetitive tunes with a unique vocal range and slower pacing. 

Hip-Hop: Smino

A little bit more well-known but still off the mainstream beaten path, Smino is a slightly more relaxed version of Frank Ocean. His Spotify profile states that his music “combines hip-hop with funk and soul influences.”


His sound is iconic and fresh. DAVIE combines a variety of musical styles ranging from synth-funk to R&B ballads. Fans are moved, yet soothed in a truly visceral experience. 

Folk: The Texas Gentlemen

This band is a giant lineup of sidemen — artists who have performed on the side with other major artists. Once the group broke out to start their own thing however, they immediately gained popularity. Catch them now before it is too late, and support Texas artists.

Funk & Blues: Jackie Venson

Who said that funk and blues are dying out? This young artist incorporates electric guitar strings with a beautiful voice. The music is chill, yet keeps you awake with the constant strumming of an electric guitar. This artist would be a perfect stop during a midday ACL run.

World & Cultural: Flor de Toloache

This group is New York City’s first and only all-women mariachi band. Flor de Toloache incorporates a unique vocal flair among the traditional mariachi instruments, thus making them sound entirely different than traditional mariachi bands.

Youth: Red Yarn

Texas native Andy Furgeson makes catchy country tunes for kids, but gives it the tone of some mainstream country songs to appeal to parents as well.