The Austin City Limits (ACL) says goodbye until October 6, 2023, when a new edition reissues the emotions that were experienced at Zilker Park. This ACL will not only be remembered for the heat but for the memorable performances we witnessed. This 2022 festival has confirmed the importance of women in the current music scene both on and off stage. The large presence of female faces on the poster and among the public gave a good account of this. In addition, women from all over the world issued messages of empowerment and sexual freedom.
ACL is the last remnant of that weird, libertarian Austin we love so much. It has left us endless experiences that we will summarize for you through these lines accompanied by our playlist with the best songs heard in this edition.
The Californian band arrived at the second weekend of Austin City Limits with much to celebrate. Their new album, Return of Dream Canteem, just come out and Flea had a birthday. All of this made an unforgettable concert. Like anything worth remembering, it began with an unexpected flaw. They spent several minutes playing in mono to the disappointment of some fans who had waited patiently for hours during the intense heat. But once the error was corrected, the band went wild and played a handful of songs that are part of the life story of each one of us.
Despite the temptation to overload their setlist with a promotion of their newly released album, the Red Hot Chili Peppers brought all their classics from Dani California, Around the World, Give it away before the encores and as a prelude for the fireworks. Through their anthems everything made sense: the wait, the heat and a career that is rock history.
A Concert that is Not a Concert
It is unfair to define a Lil Nas X concert as a mere concert. This show is much more. It is a performance, a vindication of sexual freedom, a modern dance show, a vaudeville, a fashion show, a video clip, a TikTok and a play structured into four acts. It narrates the rise of a man freed from any moral and sexual ties. With impressive visuals, it gives entrance to the different acts and different video clips that accentuate the process of a person who gradually discovers his sexuality and becomes a whirlwind of freedom. Dancers with unlimited talent and the charisma of Lil Nas do the rest and turn this show into pure avant-garde staging. By adding powerful songs such as Old Time Road, Montero, Scoop, or Industry Baby to all this, we have a masterpiece.
A Pink Carousel
A Pink concert is a carousel of emotions and a game of mirrors where we can see unique parts of a woman. On the first part of this journey, we meet the teenage Pink who wants to party. Get the Party Started and Raise your Glass attest to that. Then you go through that more mature Pink that talks about life and love with deeper themes like Just Like a Pill, Try and Give Me a Reason. In between, Pink throws covers and gives spectacular emotion to songs like River by Bishop Briggs, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, What’s up by Four Non-Blondes, Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin, and I’m Just a Girl by Gwen Stefani. All the parts of this journey created a special halo with the spectacular voice and stage power of Pink. A sound delight.
Arlo Parks arrived from London ready to offer a ray of light to this crazy world. Her energy, positivity, and rhythm, loaded with grandiose influences, were activated in one of the most special moments of ACL. She did it with the added merit of a simple but very floral stage proposal. Arlo did not need artifice to reach the hearts of an enthusiastic audience surrendered to her charisma and to a band of good musicians who brought together the best of the most soulful urban sounds in the United Kingdom. Songs like Hurt, Green Eyes, Too Good, and Hype, put us on our feet before an artist destined for greatness.
A barn party broke out in Zilker Park with a highly inspired Nathaniel Rateliff. The artist from St. Louis appeared in Austin with a band of musicians of enormous talent and eager to make us dance to his tune while the Texas sun made us melt. Nathaniel’s voice unleashes a homily in each song and converts all ears who approach his unchained groove into acolytes. A wonder that connects with the most exquisite American musical tradition. His setlist is the height of refinement through great songs like You Worry Me, I am on Your Side, Hey Mama and Above all SOB, which unleashed madness among all of us. Counting down the days to meet our new musical guru again.
The Diva with a Conscience
If it was already hot in Austin, Princess Nokia raised the temperature several degrees with her explosive intro with a provocative dance to the rhythm of American Woman and another sensual dance with Down in Mexico by The Coasters that left us speechless. This rapper, capable of fusing the legacy of Brooklyn in her songs, won over the public with her movements, her rhymes, and her urban rhythms. A feminine torrent washed convention through her body, throwing a weapon against conservatism. Her speeches in support of the freedom of choice to love, to abort and to change sex, made a rap concert a window to the world.
Postcards from Yesterday
Paramore guided us through the times gone by. Sound memories converted into postcards from yesterday that surfaced in the minds of its loyal and grateful audience. We were all invaded by the feeling of reunion, like old friends who see each other again and behave as they were before life changed them. Songs like Brick my Boring Brick, Still into You, Hard Times, or Told You So and the charisma of Hayley Williams bought us a ticket for a journey through time. During this nostalgic trip they shared the stage with Pink Pantheress, an unconditional fan who was a sweet surprise for all of us who discovered her at Zilker Park. A concert to look back with tenderness and relive moments that are part of us, as much as Paramore’s songs.
The Austin City Limits Party
BIA came to ACL to get us to dance. Her iconic songs lasted through a fiery setlist until she reached Whole Lotta Money and said goodbye as one of the queens of this edition. The East Coast rapper appeared on the scene with a very urban simplicity and accompanied by a cohort of dancers ready to put on a display of unique twerk and hip hop. Between them, BIA walked, rapped, and danced with that tranquility that divas transmit, so sure that their rhythms are created to alter our consciousness and activate our rusty hips.
The Hidden Cyrus
Miley’s sister is undoubtedly the great forgotten of the family clan. She does not have the fame of her sister and the legendary figure of her father, but her concert surprised us. A warm voice breaks stereotypes and reels off a mix of rhythms that wrap her melodic pop with country, rock, and soul motifs through a talented band. Noah emotionally bares all on every song and is not afraid to give light on everything from her family to God. The result is fascinating and as a whole, it generates a consistent direct in which a Noah Cyrus shines that is well worth stopping to listen to.
A Lighthouse in the Night
SZA came to the Austin City Limits with the responsibility of headlining. Her setlist was somewhat erratic but left brilliant moments like her collaboration with Kendrick Lamar on the song All Stars, her collaboration with Doja Cat on the song Kiss Me More, and Supermodel. The spectacular staging with a lighthouse and a stage sprinkled with LEDs that simulated a sea town guided the gazes of the attendees towards one of the faces of the new American rap scene.
The Girl from London
From London, Pink Pantheress appeared as if it were a lost tourist; barefoot, clutching her bag and wearing glasses. Little by little, she won over the public based on her tenderness and those intimate songs that she composed with the GarageBand and that hit her on TikTok. One of the new icons of the London scene was a breath of fresh air for all those present. Her impudence at just 22 years old leaves the door open to a very promising future. In addition, she fulfilled her dream of getting on stage with Paramore.
Hendrick’s Botanic Sound Garden and ACL Eats
Like every year, the Austin City Limits is savored. ACL Eats is a festival within a festival that brings us the best cuisine in Austin. City icons like Amy’s Ice Cream, Austin’s Pizza or Chi’lantro turn the ACL into a parade of aromas that combine perfectly with a weekend of great musical luxuries. This year we have chosen to savor the exquisite shawarmas from Shawarma Point, the sublime chicken from Happy Chicks and the most tempting sweets from Tiff’s Treats.
Another unforgettable experience the festival gave us was visiting Hendrick’s Botanic Sound Garden. This magical place recreated a beautiful Victorian garden with performances that evoked the 19th century. In it we enjoyed classic cocktails such as a delicious Mule in which the botanists played with our palate thanks to the expertise of the brand’s mixologists. A garden in the middle of that musical oasis that is Austin City Limits.
Until next year, ACL!
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