We say goodbye to Austin City Limits after three intense days of great concerts, heat, good vibes and unforgettable experiences. It was an edition marked by COVID, both in memory of last year’s canceled ACL and the measures taken by the organization to ensure the safety of the attendees.
Intense heat was the predominant note of a festival that saw its celebration in jeopardy after the rains on Thursday. It was big deal. The Friday morning concerts were postponed, some as interesting as Asleep at the Wheel. However, everything happened along the usual paths of this Texan festival that has left us many sonorous delights in our memory. If you are one of the lucky ones who will attend the second weekend of the festival, take good note of what awaits you. We are counting the days until we return to Zilker Park in 2022.
Don’t miss the festival’s soundtrack on our Spotify playlist.
A Star with a Message
The teenage queen of pop shone like no one else in this edition of the Austin City Limits. During the two years that have passed since we enjoyed her at the previous ACL, she has settled into stardom and her music and ideals have matured. Billie came to Texas with a show from another dimension compared to her previous tour. Not so much in the LEDs or in the lifting platforms, but in the tone of the demands and committed messages. Issues such as Ecology or abortion, a controversial topic and more so in the South, speak clearly of a grown artist.
Beyond her speeches, her music and her staging have matured preserving the freshness that characterizes her. She already has a series of hymns that work perfectly on live to which she has added an album, Happier than ever, which fits perfectly in her magnetic universe.
Music that Unites
The Dallas artist arrived in Austin with a one hour countdown to review one of the most fruitful races on the current scene, but Erykah took it easy. She came out on stage after ten minutes of sublime improvisation by her musicians and choristers and it was then that she began to shed that charm that explains the musical legend that accompanies her. One by one, her immortal themes permeated the park, accompanied by a special aura and healing words capable of uniting people of different creeds and genres around her music.
Hot Rap at Austin City Limits
The new Rap’s bomb didn’t take long to explode. Just a few seconds on her flowery stage and both she and her dancers raised the already scandalous temperature of the festival. Doja Cat is much more than meets the eye. Her live music isn’t close to conventional Rap and she puts samples aside to enter interesting paths that lead her to Soul and the most danceable R&B. Pure fun, her dances and her themes are a guarantee to spend an hour flying in the hands of one of the new divas of American black music. She reserved final fireworks with a Boss Bitch or Say So much acoustic than we could imagine. A delight.
There are artists who sound damn good to you at home but even better in live. This is the case with this rapper from Compton. We knew his style, the kind that his urban anthems give off, but we couldn’t imagine the street dance show and magnetic songs that were going to make up an hour-long set of pure satin. A picnic in the park dressed in tuxedos and a review of what is happening in the streets, its aesthetics, its stories and its new rhythms, increasingly melodic and eclectic. R&B, House, Trip Hop and Hip Hop in an environment permeated by the weed’s smell. Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the unforgettable Austin City Limits.
Seattle in Austin
Honest rock with deep roots, a band with a lot of charisma and songs that sound better over the years. Little more can be asked of a live. Band of Horses never disappoints. They have been giving one masterclass after another since 2004. For a reason they are one of the most iconic bands in Seattle, the key city of independent music. Part of that essence is carried with them in each concert. Honesty, good taste and a desire to have fun. Three keys to putting the public in your pocket. Something that they led to paroxysm after performing a song by the great George Strait and unleashing a wave of applause and cheers. A rock homily in the park.
A Rave in the Park
…And in the middle of the park a rave was organized. Chris Lake led an impromptu party. His style sounds just as good at 6 in the morning as it does at 3 in the afternoon. In this party, the Aberdeen DJ reviewed his career through Progressive or Techno-House that have made him an icon of electronic music. At the Austin City Limits, he made us dancing, closing an incredible session with House of Pain and lengthening his set until he delayed the concert of Karol G, who was performing on the neighboring stage. Nobody cared. We would have followed the party for hours.
Crazy on Stage
Samuel T Herring’s band is everything you could ask for at a concert. Sweat, class, a few drops of punk, a synth touch, and a crazy front-man wanting to create fun onstage mayhem. Dirty and velvet at the same time, Future Islands synth-pop hit the spot on Austin City Limits. Many of the clueless Texans around me, believed they were watching a British band. It is not surprising. Future Islands has always had a British indie vibe that takes them away from Baltimore but takes them straight to our hearts, raising the bar of any festival they perform at.
When we spoke to her a few months ago, we already sensed the potential of this Dominican artist based in Italy. At the ACL, she appeared on the BMI stage, the smallest of all but the one with the most charm. The crowd swirled around her urban and Latin rhythms. Sympathy, charisma and a history of integration and immigration were unraveled throughout her concert. The closing of her with a memorable version of Sweet Dreams left us speechless and wanting to find her again.
A Black-Tie Picnic
The impassive Australian appeared in an overalls and a homeless look on stage. A facade to hide the sensitivity and style of this musical genius. With a simple staging he pulled songs from the first second, with Gold driving those present crazy. Occasionally, strolling or sitting at the piano, he scored a concert as if he were on a picnic. A whole sample of his talent and his ability to transmit that he reveals in his songs, something that he transfers with masterful simplicity in his concerts.
Dancing with Miley
The Houston rapper arrived Austin being one of the stars of the new American urban scene. She didn’t disappoint. Her and her dancers gave a symposium of twerk, rap and staging worthy of a diva. Even Miley Cyrus couldn’t resist showing up on stage and doing some dances with Meghan Thee Stallion. Her concert was a fascinating encounter with this artist destined to be an absolute star.
Lost Rhythms in the Dark
Miley had the difficult task of sharing a schedule with the icon of Texas, George Strait. Which caused us to have to split in two on Friday night to tell you what was happening in both scenarios. Miley made the effort to impress us. Great visuals, Blondie or Pixies covers and an eclectic mix of styles, from rap to the most classic rock. Although, she still haven’t defined her style and that penalizes in a concert.
The King of the Stage
A George Strait concert in Texas is a homily. It’s like watching Elvis. His live introduce you in his personal world with no clue where you until you realize it: You are one of his acolytes. It doesn’t matter if you have seen him a time or a thousand, he is always able to touch your deepest feelings with his songs. That circumstance is priceless. It speaks very clearly of the musical genius that is George Strait. Beyond the myth, his hat, the country cliché, there is a superlative musician that is worth discovering over and over again. There are many George Strait in each concert and none is the same as the previous one.
You call to say goodbye
Like Friday, Austin City Limits made it difficult for us to choose who to close the weekend with. We hung out around Duran Duran for a while to get lost in Tyler, The Creator’s luminous show. Flames, a yacht, a guy dressed as a tourist and a powerful and colorful rap awaited us at his concert. His street stories impact even more on stage, showing that he’s at the right moment in his career. A visual and sound delight full of LEDs and good songs. A finishing touch to a magical festival.
We spent the weekend from stage to stage to tell you everything that happened in Zilker Park. In between, we took the opportunity to taste the wonders of ACL Eats and the most delicious urban flavors of Austin. We don’t have space to tell you everything that has happened at ACL, but we would like to summarize it in a few names that made us enjoy during these three days of heat, good vibes and music of many carats.
- Duran Duran, Karol G, Sofía Valdés, AGClub, Gracie Abrams, La Doña.
See you at Austin City Limits 2022!
+ Music in Urban Moon