ACL Weekend Two Wrap-Up
Admittedly, all the huge buzz leaks out as all the kids party on Weekend One, so attending Weekend Two for the first time, I was curious as to whether or not it could keep the same vibe from its predecessor. Surprisingly, the fest didn’t seem to miss a beat.
We have photos from around the grounds, randoms and portraits, friends and colleagues, bootlickers and signs. We also have plenty of notes rehashing last week’s favorites and highlighting the changes, so read on for highlights.
Friday looked to be my favorite day from the get-go, catching our local favorites Annabelle Chairlegs bring in a decent crowd for an early set; it’s good to see deserved appreciation for an act early on in the day. Sandy Alex G did his thing, and while I’ve caught him live several times, I still think his charm is best heard through the quiet of your speakers. Then, of course, Hamilton Leithauser did his thing; I’m never going to complain about catching that guy live. I think my biggest surprise was the Crystal Castles set; it was probably the most “show” I saw at the entire festival, and while I would have loved a little more volume from Edith, I think the group made some new fans on their performance alone.
I had to scramble on Saturday to get down there in time for Ought, and I’m so glad that I did. They played a few songs off their forthcoming Merge Records debut, but threw in some old hits to charm those in attendance. Selfishly, I wish they had gotten a later slot, but their literate art-rock definitely started my day off in the right mood. Saw Car Seat Headrest…still left thinking these guys have got to figure out how to play a live set. Angel Olsen sounded delightful…but you knew that. For me, as a long time “I love the records, but the live set is boring” Spoon fan, I was really impressed by their energetic set on Saturday night. Talking to a friend, she said that Alex really seems to have kicked off something in Britt; he’s all swagger and rock star now…and to me, that’s a good thing.
I rolled into Sunday in just enough time to catch Day Wave bring their indiepop set to the festival stage. Maybe it’s my love of the genre, or maybe their New Order cover, but I just grinned like a child the whole time they were up there. Then I ran to catch Raging Fyah to get my reggae on; I think their presence, along with a handful of other acts, points to a diversity in the ACL lineup that I think often goes unnoticed. It’s not all country, rock and DJs out there! Watched Whitney. They were better, but still not great, live. Then I had to hustle between Growlers and White Reaper…two personal favorites that had me running back and forth between stages…but no complaints as they both delivered.
My final thoughts on ACL are this: For all the complaints and praise about the lineup, I think that the diversity really spoke to the festival’s drive to include all interested Austinites, from music hipsters, to teenagers to adults who just want to jam. It also dawned on me, that the safety and festival environment might encourage parents to allow their kids to attend, as opposed to those dangerous clubs downtown, and in that, we might have a kid latch onto an Ought or Ryan Adams or a Crystal Castles, giving birth to a new musician…and then we’re all better off. Plus, I ran into tons of friends old and new, and that only enhanced my experience.
We brought our friend Jebediah along. He rules. He is on a really long Rumschpringe.
Chasing photo pits puts a damper of seeing bands. Especially later in the day, we are shooting three and lining up for the next band in an hour after working through crowds. Getting to see weekend two with friends from the crowd was a welcome change of pace.
The new things for weekend two really stood out. Day Wave was a perfect start to a festival day. So much chill vibes that you get a level set and that New Order cover was a sing-along. White Reaper dominated Sunday. The collision of pop, psych and punk won tons of fans over that wanted to skip the bigger name draws. Honestly, I was nervous; I told all my friends that White Reaper was the rock show of the weekend and they did skip some names they all recognized, but the boys from Louisville impressed, all of the squad admitting at the end of the night they won the day. There was even some guitar playing-spelunking under the drum riser.
A fight broke out in front of us during Gorillaz. WTF?
Finally, Run the Jewels – I get goosebumps thinking about shooting the first three in front of that huge crossover crowd. So much energy. Seeing it from the other angle, hands up, heads bobbing, dust rising and watching Killer Mike got the entire crowd to take three steps back to keep the people up front from getting crushed? I get it. They need to headline. Unlike the lesser rappers that need hype men or constant city plugs to hold a crowd, these guys just keave guts up there.
One last time, a big thank you to all the volunteers, security, C3 staff, Good Pop, Epic Meat Snacks, BMI, Topo Chico and High Brew for the survival support.