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City Limits reaches new heights

[ 8 October 2015 | Print This Post ]
8 October 2015


Walking into the Austin City Limits Festival is always accompanied by a rush of good feelings. Excitement for the festival vibes, the great variety of music, the food, and the folks that surround the stages make for a very exciting three days. ACL has been known to bring in a little something for everyone, from country, to electronic, hip-hop, and of course a healthy dose of rock. Here are some of our highs and lows at Zilker park.

 

Day One

We started our day off with Alina Baraz and Galimatias, who teamed up a few years back after Alina wrote and sang her own lyrics over a track of Galimatias’. The two continued working together before finally giving us ‘Urban Flora,’ filled to the top with smooth tempos and sultry vocals. It was a bit obvious the two hadn’t done too much on stage together, but Alina smiled through and kept her crowd swaying and happy.

Next we strolled down to the Honda stage to see Leon Bridges, who completely feels like a step back in time. Leon, from Fort Worth, Texas, started his musical career most heavily influenced by R&B artists Usher and Ginuwine, and didn’t find his true love of classic soul until later on his journey. He was a delight to see live, and it made it seem easy to keep growing crowd moving along to his songs, which all sounded like instant classics.

Tame Impala was next for the day, and we were eager to here “Currents” live. Tame Impala seems to be a slow burn, a crescendo of energy that keeps you locked in till the last beat. The show was a perfectly laced piece of the old and new, which meant they wouldn’t dare leave the stage without playing “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.” It was hard to peel our eyes off the stage.
We then rushed to see Austin’s own Gary Clark Jr. who lit up the HomeAway Stage. This is an artist who has taken the blues world by storm, and then some. He’s definitely one of the greatest blues guitarists of his generation. In addition to his talent on the guitar, Gary Clark Jr. has an incredible voice and really comes alive on stage, making him a wonder to watch.

The two closers of our first night were both satisfying in their own (very different) respects. Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters is a well known musical genius, and always a blast to see. Foo Fighters played all of their greats, and couldn’t have done a better job at keeping the energy high throughout their two hour set. Disclosure, playing across the park, seemed to conduct the biggest dance party of the day.

Day Two

 

While this day started off cooler, it quickly became hotter than our first day. With our waters and portable fans in tow, we headed over to see Father John Misty to get the day started right. Father John Misty was a part of folk group Fleet Foxes, and has since drifted off to produce not one, but two solo albums. His sophomore album delivered beautiful melodies and plenty of dark humor and tales of failed love. He seems to perform with everything he’s got, holding his audience captive under his spell.
We then checked out Shakey Graves, another one of Austin’s own. His sound might be hard to classify, but his passion is easy to see. Most will call his music a cross between blues and folk, and it’s clear to see how he makes the one-man band effortless. His presence fills the stage as he rocks out on his guitar and slams down on his kick drum, that he apparently made himself out of an old briefcase. We left amazed.

We took a break midday to enjoy some local Austin food favorites, but were more than ready to see Alabama Shakes kick off their show over on the Honda Stage. Brittany Howard, the band’s lead singer, blew absolutely everyone away as soon as she started singing. With a voice bigger than Texas, she had everyone in complete awe. Alabama Shakes is the band you need to see if you want a healthy dose of bluesy rock.

Rushing over to the Tito’s Handmade Vodka tent, we were able to catch the end of the enchanting set by Sweden’s very own Jose Gonzalez. Jose had come to ACL in 2013 with his band Junip, but this time around he had come with his very own songs from his solo album Vestiges and Claws released earlier this year. His movement on stage was minimal, but his impact was grand. His songs which are typically heard with only his voice and accompanying guitar were played with a band complete with a bongo player who gave his music a latin feel. We were very glad to catch this one.

We attempted to watch the Drake show but found it more enjoyable not to be in attendance. For anyone who is curious, the hype horn was sounded 57 times throughout his set. There may or may not have been bleeding ears in the audience.

 

Day Three

 

Somehow we mustered enough energy to last us for day three. We started our final day by heading over to see London’s band Years & Years who played on the Austin Ventures stage. This electronic pop three piece band started their set with the perfect burst of energy to get everyone going. The shrieks from the crowd were high and the dance moves were perfectly executed.

After Years & Years we headed over to the Miller Lite stage to see Sylvan Esso who had traveled from North Carolina. They’re electropop sound was just the right thing to keep the high energy going, and it was such a dance party. Despite being blasted by the sun, Amelia Meath, the band’s lead singer, did plenty of twerking and threw in a good amount of high kicks. Even with her dancing all over the stage, she maintained a great sound and her melodious voice kept the music sounding great.

After another midday break, we decided to post up under this year’s new installation of different colored flags to listen to the Alt-J show who played on the Honda stage. Alt-J would be classified as indie rock but they are so much more, and have such a unique sound. They sounded fantastic, almost exactly like their album, but there seemed to be a definite lack of energy and interaction with the crowd. They were a fun band to watch from afar, away from the crowded front.

Lastly we made sure to check out both closers, but started out at The Strokes, another indie rock band, who has been around since 1998. They had plenty of hits to play, and they seemed to cover them all. As the show started, it was easy to notice Julian Casablanca slurring through the lyrics. “Such a shame, since they’re such a good band,” was said by a festival goer, as it was hard to enjoy the show much when the vocals sounded so sloppy. As the show progressed it seemed to improve, and by the time they played their fifth song Julian almost sounded sober. We made our way over across the park to listen to Weeknd, often turning around to listen to a familiar Strokes song, but were very pleased to hear what was going on at the Honda Stage. The Weeknd were high energy, had the crowds dancing and shouting, and sounded nearly flawless. It was the ideal end to the three day madness.

Weekend two has big shoes to fill! With only a slightly different lineup, it’ll be exciting to see what next weekend will bring. Stay tuned!

Words: Monique Rodriguez
Images: Zoe Miranda

 

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