With over 16 years in experience as a festival, Austin City Limits has earned a global reputation for bringing the highest calibre of musical talent, local delicacies, and art to Austin’s Zilker Park, for two weekends every October. And 2018 was no exception, from the likes of Paul McCartney, to the Arctic Monkeys, St. Vincent, Janelle Monáe, and more, taking to the stage across the three-day event.
Having attended the New Zealand offshoot Auckland City Limits earlier this year, we headed to Austin City Limits this past weekend, and were not disappointed.
Check out our thoughts on some of our favourite acts below…
Opening the American Express stage at the modestly early time-slot of 12.45pm were three-piece Wallows, whose ‘Spring’ EP drew an enormous crowd for early in the day, with their dedicated fans singing along to every word (and swaying with their EP on vinyl, which was queued with later at a signing by the band), and new fans discovering their summery and catchy sound. Live, the band are joined by two additional members, one of which [Danny Ferenbach] serenaded the crowd with his trumpet intro into ‘Let The Sun In’. The live debut of their latest release ‘Drunk On Halloween’ saw the band’s Dylan Minnette don an acoustic guitar while Braeden Lemasters took the lead on vocals, before encouraging everyone to jump along with him during ‘Sun Tan’.
After continuously thanking the crowd, Wallows promised that they’d be back soon, and with new music - and let’s hope that promise extends to New Zealand too.
Supporting fellow ACL performers BROCKHAMPTON by wearing a blue long-sleeve from their latest merch drop, Blood Orange, a.k.a. Dev Hynes’ performance was both immaculate and effortless - with songs from his latest album ‘Negro Swan’ working well between older cuts like ‘Chamakay’ and ‘E.V.P.’.
Monáe truly stole the entire festival with her flawless one hour performance - a set which included incredible choreographed dancing, costume changes, pitch-perfect vocals, voting PSAs, and much, much more. Performing a number of tracks from her latest album, ‘Dirty Computer’ (seeing ‘Screwed’ and ‘Pynk’ live are life-changing experiences, FYI), amongst older songs (‘Q.U.E.E.N.’, ‘Tightrope’), Monáe was flanked by four back-up dancers who helped transform the festival into The Janelle Monáe show - and at one point she sat atop a red velvet throne, and rightly so, for she was the queen of the festival, and no-one who witnessed her performance would ever deny it.
Between songs, Monáe paused to preach the importance of self-love, love (“Make a heart but only if you believe in the power of love!”), and voting in the upcoming American election, and ended her unforgettable set by wishing the audience well for the rest of their time at the festival.
Having become a staple (no pun intended) at most summer music festivals, Vince Staples took to the stage somewhat ironically wearing a Fuji Rock Festival t-shirt, opening with his 2018 release ‘Get The Fuck Off My Dick’, an equally ironic song that he dropped after attempting to raise money via a GoFundMe to fund his early retirement from music. Songs from ‘Big Fish Theory’, ‘Prima Donna’, and ‘Summertime '06’ were mixed together in a 17-song set which saw Staples hype up the crowd to no end - and acknowledging at one point, “This is a pretty big stage for my pay grade.”
Performing a sunset set, St. Vincent’s latest album ‘Masseduction’ was brought to live by Annie Clark and her two band-members, with songs like ‘Los Ageless’ and ‘Slow Disco’ stealing the show. Clark’s impressive guitar skills are like nothing else in this world, and seeing her shred is 100% a life-affirming thing to witness - especially when it’s followed with a heartfelt rendition of ‘New York’, which had the entire crowd singing along to every single word.
Arctic Monkeys took to the stage just before fellow headliner Travis Scott, where they performed an eighteen song set-list with tracks spanning their twelve-year career.
Though their latest album ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ somewhat divided Monkeys fans (with songs like ‘One Point Perspective’ seeming sadly underappreciated), the audience was enthused and dancing along to the more well-known hits - i.e. ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’, ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, and ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ all went down a treat.