I went to the Austin City Limits Festival this year, despite the fact that I am not at all a festival person. But it was my first chance to go to ACL so I wasn’t going to pass that up, and in the course of the weekend I also gave out-of-towners directions twice, so I’m pretty sure I’m an Austinite now, right? I believe that you turnover at the one year mark because so many new people move to Austin each year. So, that’s cool.
Here’s the thing about ACL: it’s not going to be bad. Like, these people know what they’re doing. It’s a huge festival; it draws huge crowds and popular bands. For a festival this size and with the reputation of ACL, you’re not going to see anyone who’s not great in some way. Even the people performing you’ve never heard of are going to be amazing. And it was! It was amazing. I didn’t see a single act that I thought, “meh.” (Well, I did, but personal taste only and not the actual quality.) So here, in brief, is everything that I saw at ACL.
Friday, Oct 9th:
Leon Bridges: this dude is amazing and deserves every awesome review that he gets.
Billy Idol: holy shit, I just saw Billy Idol sing “White Wedding.” That was a thing that happened to me.
Run the Jewels: So awesome. Fun fact: I had a casual conversation with Killer Mike in the press tent but had no idea it was actually Killer Mike until he left and sat down with EI-P for an interview with another outlet, and then I was like, “Hey, I totally just complained about the weird wheat juice to the guy from Run the Jewels.”
Tame Impala: Right on, man. I like your psychedelic sounds.
Foo Fighters: I’m not gonna lie. I was a little underwhelmed, and the sound was not so good (stage, not band). You’re still a pretty cool band, though, in general.
Saturday, Oct 10th:
Shakey Graves: Still great. Gets better every time I see him. I would like to see him with a full band, though.
Sturgill Simpson: I actually never listened much to Simpson because his music is a little too twangy for me, but in live performances he really pops.
Walk the Moon: You guys have that song “Shut Up and Dance” that sounds pretty good on the radio, and also pretty good in person, but there was some weird technical stuff going on here.
Modest Mouse: Super good. And you played old stuff, too! (also, they are vampires and don’t show up on film)
TV on the Radio: I don’t think I’m cool enough to like this band. So good.
Drake: I only stayed for one song because I was pretty sure I was gonna get trampled. I like your weird beard, though.
Sun, October 11th:
Sylvan Esso: There were some technical issues going on, but the lead singer covered with a Beyoncé song and everything was right in the world. Also, “Hey Mami” is rediculously infectious.
The Decemberists: I have loved The Decemberists for what seems like decades and never seen them live. Their ACL set was but a mere drop in the bucket for what this band can do. Must see Decemberists more and often.
Of Monsters and Men: meh. (also vampires)
Alt-J: Hells yeah.
Nero: I legit could not tell if there was anyone on stage, or if it was just lights and lazers and shit.
Hozier: Super good voice live.
The Weeknd: I am also not cool enough to like The Weeknd.
Florence + the Machine: wow.
I feel like a couple more ACLs and I’ll have made up for living in China for five years.