Oct 6, 2023 - News

ACL Music Fest according to Waterloo's John Kunz

Photo: Waytao Shing/Getty Images for SXSW

There are so many artists on tap at Austin City Limits Music Festival, and Waterloo Records owner John Kunz is a pro when it comes to discovering new artists and attending the festival.

Catch up quick: The beloved record shop opened in 1982 and Kunz has been selling records in Austin for 50 years. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, Waterloo hosted artist signings from a tent on the ACL festival grounds.

Between the lines: The Waterloo tent sold CDs and records from artists performing at the festival, but a growing number of the musicians — Kunz estimates 60% — don't have physical copies of their music to sell.

  • But Kunz said the store on North Lamar will have extra copies of CDs and records from the artists performing at the festival.
John Kunz in front of Waterloo Records. Photo: Courtesy of John Kunz.

Ahead of the festival, Kunz walked us through the artists he can't wait to see in Zilker park this year:

Rock: Foo Fighters and El Paso-based The Mars Volta

Alternative: The Breeders and Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Country: Asleep at the Wheel (weekend one), the legendary western swing band that's opened up nearly every ACL Music Festival, and Tanya Tucker.

  • "It's easy to stay with a couple of Texas acts there, but you can't deny the glam, country rock of Shania Twain," who performs Saturday during weekend one, Kunz added.

Soul/R&B: Thee Sacred Souls (weekend one) and Devon Gilfillian

  • "We had Devon play to a nearly room-capacity house here during South by Southwest, and [he's] just an incredible singer-songwriter," Kunz said.

Blues: Jimmie Vaughan and the Tilt-A-Whirl Band (weekend two) and Christone "Kingfish" Ingram (weekend one).

Hip Hop/Rap: Rapper Kendrick Lamar

Americana: The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons and Noah Kahan

Electronica: Odesza, M83 (weekend two) and Chromeo (weekend one)

The bottom line: Take a deep breath if two of your favorite artists are on opposing stages at the same time, Kunz advises.

  • "The frustration as well as the magic of festivals is having to make those tough choices," he said. "Or just walking from one band to another … and discovering there's this incredible band in the tent that I've never heard of."
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