Free and Low-Cost Concerts in Austin: ACL and Beyond

Once again, Austin will flex its musical muscles as our residents prepare for the Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL), which will take place this weekend and next at Zilker Park. If you have tickets, you probably already know that kids 10 and under get in free with a ticketed adult and that there is a special place inside the festival, Austin Kiddie Limits, which caters to families. 

Although wristbands and single-day passes are now sold out, there are plenty of opportunities to catch musicians in the Live Music Capital of the World and not break the bank. While we all appreciate free music, it goes without saying that these musicians perform to support their own livelihoods, so there are always ways to support them, whether it’s putting in some money when the tip jar comes around or buying their music or merchandise.

Budget friendly live music during ACL:


KLRU-TV, Austin PBS and the PBS Art Fall Festival are hosting the ACLTV 40th Anniversary Pop-Up Concert on Thursday, October 2nd from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. RSVP to this FREE show here. Dana Falconberry will perform a solo show at noon. You can buy lunch from Dock & Roll, Tapas Bravas and Burro Cheese Kitchen and nibble on free frozen banana halfsies from Bananarchy. You can even get your photo taken at On the Flipside’s photobooth.

ACL Live at The Moody Theater
310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd.
Austin, TX 78701


KGSR will broadcast live from Threadgill’s World Headquarters from 8:00 a.m. until noon on Friday, October 3rd and Saturday, October 4th. A $5 donation to HAAM gets you in, and the first 100 people through the door receive a FREE breakfast taco. Here is the schedule, which is subject to change:

Friday, October 3rd
8:00 a.m. Night Terrors of 1927
8:30 a.m. Arum Rae
9:00 a.m. James Bay
10:00 a.m. Robert Ellis
10:30 a.m. Bleachers
11:00 a.m. Paolo Nutini

Saturday, October 4th
8:00 a.m. Bernhoft
8:30 a.m. The Nightowls
9:00 a.m. Jamestown Revival
9:30 a.m. Benjamin Booker
10:30 a.m. Lake Street Drive
11:00 a.m. Saints of Valory
11:30 a.m. Lucius

Threadgill’s World Headquarters
301 West Riverside Dr.
Austin, TX 78704


KUTX Live at the Four Seasons takes place on Friday, October 3rd. A donation of $10 supports the Seton Shivers Cancer Center and gets you a FREE gourmet breakfast taco and coffee. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket to sit on. The performances will also be broadcast live on the radio. 


Here’s the lineup:

9:30 a.m. Hard Proof
10:30 a.m. Lake Street Drive
11:30 a.m. Temples
12:30 p.m. The Head and the Heart

Four Seasons
98 San Jacinto Blvd.
Austin, TX 78701

LiveMom is hosting the Hush Hush Music Bash, a FREE kid after-party on Saturday, October 4th from 5:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Attendees will enjoy sweet treats from Baked by Amy’s, cupcake decorating and a photo booth from Passion Flower Mobile Parties, face painting by Rising Star Pediatric Dentistry, a gaming zone set up by the Microsoft Store, costumed characters, imagination playground blocks and more! 


Here’s the music lineup:

5:00 p.m. Sugar Free Allstars
5:45 p.m. Joe McDermott
6:30 p.m. Elizabeth McQueen
7:15 p.m. Tor Hyams
8:00 p.m. Ralph Covert

The Domain
In front of Dillard’s, next to Maggiano’s
11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Suite 210
Austin, TX 78758

Other chances to catch free or low-cost live music this fall:


The Austin City Limits TV show is filmed in front of a live studio audience and you can enter into a drawing to attend a taping for FREE. Upcoming Austin City Limits tapings are listed on the ACL TV’s website and announced on their Facebook page. Ticket giveaways are posted about a week before the taping. Winners are chosen at random and must present a photo ID to pick up tickets. Winners are notified by email. Standing may be required and no photography, recording or cell phone use is allowed in the studio.


The Grove at Southpark Meadows plays host to a FREE Fall ’14 Special Concert Series. Most shows start at 7:00 p.m. 

Here are the remaining dates on the calendar:

October 4th: Zydeco Blanco
October 11th: Johnny P and the Wiseguys
October 18th: Two Tons of Steel
October 25th: Roxy Roca

Southpark Meadows
9300 IH-35 South
Austin, TX 78748

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church has teamed up with Spicewood Tavern in northwest Austin to host musicians on select Sunday evenings for intimate shows and conversations with the artists. The Soul of a Musician Music Series begins at 7:30 p.m. most Sundays, and there is no cover charge

The remaining shows this fall are:

October 5th: Gina Chavez and Michael Ramos
October 12th: Lex Land
October 19th: Rebecca Loebe
October 26th: Erin Ivey and Joel Eckels
November 9th: Reed Turner
November 16th: Shinyribs
November 23rd: Akina Adderly
November 30th: Dustin Welch
December 7th: Patrice Pike
December 14th: Bill Carter

Spicewood Tavern
8127 Mesa Drive A100
Austin, TX 78759


The Blanton hosts Third Thursdays each month, a themed event that features extended hours and special programming. The museum is open until 9:00 p.m., and Thursdays are FREE. You can even have happy hour in the cafe featuring a glass of wine and slice of gourmet pizza for $5.

Beat the Rush is part of the special programming which takes place at 5:30 p.m. each Third Thursday. Beat the Rush features a guided musical tour of performances by small ensembles in a sequence of galleries in the museum. The musicians discuss with the audience how the music compositions that they’ve chosen connect to the paintings, drawings, and sculptures on display.

Remaining Third Thursdays of the year:


October 16th
November 20th
December 18th

Blanton Museum of Art
200 E. MLK Blvd.
Austin, TX 78701

Unplugged on the Front Porch – On the third Thursday of the month, All Saints Episcopal Church and the Live Music Capital Foundation host a free concert series. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and the music starts at 7:30 p.m. Entry and drinks are FREE, but the organizers ask for a $10 or $20 donation which goes directly to the artist. Parking is free downtown on Sundays. It’s lawn seating, so bring something to sit on. 


Upcoming concerts:

October 16th: Mother Falcon
November 20th: Michael Fracasso
December 18th: Sara Hickman
January 15th: TBD
February 19th: TBD

All Saints Episcopal Church
209 West 27th St.
Austin, TX 78701 



Hill Country Galleria’s Saturday Night Concert Series offers FREE live music Saturdays this fall at 7 p.m. Head to the outdoor amphitheater with your blanket to enjoy a free concert.

Remaining fall concerts:


October 11th Possum Posse
October 18th Rosie & the Ramblers
November 1st Foxtrot Uniform

Hill Country Galleria
12700 Hill Country Blvd
Bee Cave, TX 78738

There are of course many, many other places to enjoy free live music in this town. Heidi O. recently wrote about the kid-focused free music happening around town. What’s your favorite venue?


A recovering workaholic, Nicole Basham now spends her time rediscovering Austin through her 8-year-old son’s eyes. A soccer-playing mom, Nicole also enjoys tickling too close to bedtime, taking in some live music and being silly. You can also find her writing at LiveMom, Savvy Source for Parents and CultureMap. She recently penned 50+ Places to Eat Out With Kids in Austin.

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