Politics took the stage during ACL Fest 2022

Several artists made gubernatorial endorsements, while others criticized political leaders and policies.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) is packed with stand-out music moments and aims to provide all attendees with a memorable, fun experience. But the festival is rarely without its political moments.

During the 2021 festival, a number of artists – including Billie Eilish, Finneas and Phoebe Bridgers – spoke out against Texas’ abortion law. This year was no different when it came to politics taking center stage.

Here’s a look at some of the most notable political moments during the 2022 festival.

HeadCount helps fest-goers with voter registration

Before the festival even started, HeadCount announced it would be at both weekends of the festival to make sure attendees were registered to vote in the upcoming election. HeadCount said it would have a booth at the festival where fans could scan a QR code to check their registration status.

Since launching in 2004, HeadCount has helped sign up more than 1 million voters. This year, the organization has been at more than 40 events in the Austin area, including the recent Harry Styles residency at the Moody Center. 

The Chicks play a politics-packed set

The Chicks’ Weekend 1 headlining set was heavy on politics.

Lead vocalist Natalie Maines wore a shirt featuring the face of late U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The performance of The Chicks’ 2020 song “March March” featured screens that flashed protest footage and the names of dozens of victims killed by police. And the group endorsed Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke through a “Beto For Texas” sticker on Emily Strayer’s piano, as well as a statement from Maines.

“Let me tell you something,” Maines said. “Do you have a mother? Do you have a sister? Do you have a daughter? Do you have a girlfriend? Vote Beto. If there is a female in your life that you care about, vote Beto.”

Paramore’s Hayley Williams chats with Beto O’Rourke

While Paramore’s ACL sets didn’t lean heavy on politics, frontwoman Hayley Williams later made a political statement on her Instagram page.

On Sunday night, Williams met up with Beto O’Rourke during ACL Fest to talk “politics and why young folks in Texas are going to change the future,” according to a post on Williams’ Instagram stories.

RELATED: Paramore brings headliner energy to their ACL Fest set

Kacey Musgraves calls out Sen. Ted Cruz, gets a beer from Beto O’Rourke

Kacey Musgraves slipped politics into her headlining set during both weekends of ACL. 

During Weekend 1, Musgraves took a shot at the U.S. Supreme Court, presumably in reference to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. She also called out U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) while performing her 2018 song “High Horse.”

“‘Cause everyone knows someone who kills the buzz, every time they open their mouth – Ted Cruz,” Musgraves sang, adding, “I said what I said.”

But Musgraves didn’t keep the political moments to Weekend 1. During Weekend 2, she accepted a beer from Beto O’Rourke.

Lido Pimienta criticizes Texas abortion law

Colombian artist and musician Lido Pimienta is no stranger to touching on heavy subject matters, with songs that center issues of nationhood, race, love and motherhood. And during her Weekend 2 ACL set, she shared her opinion about some recent political policies.

For her songs “Resisto Y Ya” and “Nada” – one about protest and the other about the narrative of pain that comes with childbirth – Lido took a moment to call out the abortion bans taking place in Texas and across the U.S. Meanwhile, abortion has recently become legal without restrictions in Colombia up to the 24th week of pregnancy.

“If abortion is murder from conception, let’s have a moment of silence for all the babies lost to socks,” Lido joked.

RELATED: Lido Pimienta’s take on Colombian tambora, lullabies captivates ACL Fest crowd

Japanese Breakfast tells crowd to vote for O’Rourke

Japanese Breakfast, an alternative pop band that formed in Philadelphia, now has two members that live in Austin, frontwoman Michelle Zauner told the crowd during the band’s Weekend 2 ACL set. Likely because of that, the band now appears to have a vested interest in Texas politics.

“Vote for Beto!” Zauner urged at the end of the band’s set.

RELATED: Japanese Breakfast brings indie pop joy, charisma to last day of ACL Fest

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