ACL Weekend One Recap
A fun, exciting, and sometimes exhausting Weekend one of Austin City Limits Festival is officially in the books kids. As always, the organizers managed to run things like a well oiled machine of music festival royalty. We saw some significant changes this year for the first time in awhile, and while many might have been skeptical at first, things still went off without a hitch. For weekend one, myself, Nicole, and BGray were all in attendance frantically covering as much ground as possible. We’ll start some recaps today with thoughts from all three of us and some quick shots from photo man Brian.
Hit the jump for more.
Can I quickly mention again how thankful I am that the press area is now inside the festival and not a long haul outside the festival through bag checks and whatnot? It makes coverage so much easier for all and we greatly appreciate it.
Music wise, Friday was full of highlights for me, delivering as the clear winner of best music day in my mind. Aussies Methyl Ethel kicked off my weekend with some great psych rock sounds on a sunny Friday afternoon. Have you ever heard a bass so tight and clean? (Sandy) Alex G also impressed as he sang through gritted teeth on the brand new Barton Springs stage. Hamilton Leithauser, possible my favorite from the entire weekend, slayed once again also on the Barton Springs stage. He also picks up bonus points for using an all local backing band when he plays in Austin. Crystal Castles put on one hell of a performance piece despite probably preferring a set at night. In my opinion, the stocking heads are more powerful during the day. Though not my cup of tea really, The Revivalists offered the best Tom Petty tribute of the weekend with a killer on point version of “Refugee”.
Saturday and Sunday, though not quite as strong as Friday for me, still offered plenty of highlights. Montreal based Ought might have been my second favorite act of the weekend after Hamilton. I only managed to catch the last three songs and was still left impressed. Asgeir was a cool new discovery who sounded a bit like fellow Icelanders Sigur Ros. I’d love to check them out in a more intimate setting sometime. Country supergroup Traveller was also a welcome new discovery. Robert Ellis wins the award for, not only best dressed, but best guitar player of the entire weekend. Car Seat Headrest sounded great, but man can we give them some advice on acting like you want to be on stage? Would really help your performance. I sort of feel the same about Angel Olsen. Sound was impeccable, but the performance itself was a little bit boring. No offense.
And here I am blabbing on for much too long. Final thought. Festivals like these remind me that the world can really be a pretty cool place full of positivity and joy if we would just “Be Excellent to Each Other”. I witnessed several general acts of kindness throughout the weekend. All is not lost.
This past weekend kind of caught me off guard in terms of level of excitement as it does every year. It wasn’t until I was parking my car and hopping on the Republic Square shuttle that I started getting super stoked for a whole weekend of fun and music. The folks behind ACL did a great job at listening to complaints from years past and adapting to fit the needs of an ever expanding city and festival in itself. Shout out to the expansion over to the other side of Barton Springs Road with additional food and another stage that provided what felt like a ton more breathing room for those in attendance and allowed me to turn my body into 90% Kimchi Fries from Chi’Lantro.
Friday, my show stealers were Methyl Ethel, who surprisingly had a great stage presence for a small band on the largest stage of the festival. Next highlight of Friday was Hamilton Leithauser and crew on the Barton Springs stage. While I saw him earlier this year, every performance from this true frontman makes me double over in affection for his music. He belts with abandon, teeth bared and throat clenched; truly entertaining and moving. The Crystal Castles set through me for a loop– while not a super-fan, I was totally engaged in their set, black masks and high energy abundant. I rounded out my night with The XX, who I also caught earlier this year, but managed to confirm my choice to see them again. For only three people on the second largest stage, they are dynamic. Moving spaces on stage, switching hits to acoustic, taking moments to sincerely thank the crowd, for sticking through negativity to be there– it was a great way to end day one.
Saturday was another packed day for me. I caught Ought early on, and Tim Darcy and crew rocked through the sweltering heat to play some new gems. Car Seat Headrest were good, but I needed something more compelling to hold my attention. Angel Olsen forever has my heart and her vocals are always impeccable, but I’m with RayRay in that it wasn’t the liveliest set I’ve seen from her. Cut Copy brought amazing energy and joy, getting everyone to boogie through the humidity. The sky divers to Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” were rad and one of those moments where you look around in awe that so many people are sharing a moment of collective awe. My highlight of Saturday and of the whole weekend, was the homerun set from Spoon on the Miller Lite Stage. Yea, I know, Spoon, right? Despite being around for so long, this band still knows how to kick a set in the face. Britt Daniel struts violently around the stage, connects with fans individually, and throws his whole body into every note. They played nothing but the hits, but then again, their catalogue is sort of all hits. If you’re going to weekend 2, Spoon should be at the top of your list. Call me boring but their set was anything but.
I’m going to keep Sunday short and sweet, because I spent most of the day avoiding the violently hot sun and catching sets from the back. Tank and the Bangas were bomb. ‘Tank’ commanded the crowd in the early set, making us sweat and laugh and dance along. Everyone leaving that show had violent grins stretched out on their faces. Middle Kids had lovely stage presence and delightful indie rock. Whitney were chill vibes in the early afternoon, First Aid Kit have the gorgeous vocals, Portugal. The Man crush it with energy. The Killers had cool lights and played that one song everyone knows real early on, Gorillaz were danceable and entertaining, even from the back and a great way to end the weekend.
Photo Man Brian – Images do some talking, a few from the favorites listed plus a couple scenes from the grounds and epic jump shot. There’ll be more galleries coming soon.