Weekend Two of Austin City Limits Festival started out as most festivals do mid-day Friday, pretty scarce of attendees. However, if you were at the at the 2:30pm Wet Leg show you wouldn’t have known it. Fans of all ages clung to the boiling rails of the Honda Stage to get their fix of the group’s ACL debut. Hearing the crescendoing, almost operatic vocals of Rhian Teasdale during the chorus of “Supermarket” got the crowd roaring before a short intermission allowing lead guitarist Hester Chambers to draw a tattoo for a fan.
With artists like Machine Gun Kelly taking over the scene, ACL did justice by plugging his up and coming co-contributor Glaive into the line-up. As the day reached some of its highest temperatures fans hunkered down under the shady trees of the Barton Springs Stage to catch the pop/punk esque show. Glaive, who was hyped to perform his freshly manicured set for the first time in a festival setting, didn’t let the heat stop him as he worked the stage side to side singing tracks like “Bastard”. He described the experience as “hot as flying FUCK”.
Conan Gray, hailing from just outside the Austin City Limits of Georgetown, returned to Texas as part of his ‘Superache’ tour. Local fans as well as the majority or ACL’s younger crowd hurdled their way towards the American Express Stage to see the indie-pop artist perform his hits. Dressing in all black and facing directly into the sun didn’t slow down the Texas native as he did not miss a beat.
Arlo Parks, who recently canceled the remainder her North American tour to recuperate after playing over 120 shows this year, didn’t give any signs of burnout performance to her dedicated fans Friday on the Miller Lite Stage. The “Caroline” singer passionately conveyed her feelings to through the mic to a quickly growing crowd. As the grimacing sun started to fade, Parks performed her hit “Eugene”, citing her favorite Radiohead album as the inspiration to the track sending the crowd into a frenzy.
As 6pm struck so did the repetitive and familiar C/F# note combo that so many procured Weekend Two tickets to hear. Gracing Zilker Park for the third time, Phoenix started an unforgivable golden hour performance with hit song “Lisztomania”, following up hit after hit. Frontman Thomas Mars voiced he would keep the chatter to a minimum as the band had a lot of music to work through. However, not before he pumped up the crowd for their new studio album arriving at the beginning of next month.
Billy Strings, possibly the most incredible picker of the century, found his home on the T-Mobile Stage this year. Crowds of all types gathered to hear his authentic lyrics and see the sheer speed of his hands. Accompanied by his amazing band, Strings weaved his bluegrass tunes through the minds and souls of his fans. While he claims he’s not a jam-band, Grateful dead-esque fans could be seen in the outskirts dancing, as if that were the case. His lengthy yet emotional performance of “Away From The Mire” was unforgettable.
Out of all the performances Friday, headlining artist SZA’s production was hands down the most vast. The hit-maker started her performance elevated upon the crow’s nest of a vessel fit for the main stage. Beginning the evening with her feature in Kendrick Lamar’s “All The Stars”, SZA had her fans gripping to hear what came next. Her and her back-up dancers provided the perfect amount of flair and had crowd fixated until she finished at 9:30. Though the ever-popular band The Chicks were performing just across the park, SZA had no problem pulling a large sea of attendees to the Honda Stage to close out the evening.
As the dust settled from ACL Day One (quite literally) patrons began slowly trickling into the festival at a snail’s pace. This was likely due to Longhorn football coinciding with the days first bands or the hangover attendees received the night before. As always the Austin Parks Foundation and their clean-up crews did an amazing job keeping the vast park at the heart of the city free from debris. A new addition to the festival this year was the introduction of orange reusable cups from the company TURN. While a good amount were left lying as wounded warriors on the battlefield, one would hope the green initiative did some good.
Neil Frances took the Miller Lite Stage at 1:30, using their psychedelic funky vibes to attract anyone not watching football in the beer tent. The groups energy and sound were flawless, bending vocals and introducing live synths to their fans. As the band played their groovy rendition of “Music Sounds Better With You” towards the back end of their set there wasn’t one hot sweaty person in the crowd not twisting their hips to the beat.
Playing the American Express Stage in almost unbearable heat, The Midnight came out showing their cool. This is one of those bands where you everyone on stage is an absolute show-stopper . Whether it’s the amazing vocals of Tyler Lyle, the responsive guitar solos of Tim McEwan, the badass female bass licks or the ear-soothing saxophone show stoppers; this band has it all.
On the Barton Spring Stage, Princess Nokia had fans steaming in sweat to see her. In response, she came out with her Kirby (Nintendo) fashioned Star Rod that doubled as a water gun to cool the crowd down. It was an uproar in the best of ways. Burning down the shadiest stage at ACL with her fire outfit, sexual energy and well performed popular songs, Princess Nokia was a certified hit.
While one could give you 13 Reasons Why to see Wallows you only really need one: They are fantastic musicians. Not all bands get asked to come back and perform at one of the most popular festivals in the nation after all. They definitely have the young crowd’s hearts.
As a part of their Wet Tennis tour, married electro pop duo Sofi Tukker pulled one of the biggest crowds the Miller Lite Stage had seen yet. The crowd was going nuts ready for the show a good 15 min before call time. The groups production was set up as if you had a front row seat to the US Open of tennis, where they performed earlier this year. While performing Tucker let the crowd know that they would be doing a competition between the current crowd and that of the first weekend. After their hit “Purple Hat” played towards the end of the set, it was safe to say Weekend Two was victorious.
Death Cab For Cutie was a late addition to ACL’s Weekend Two line up, but certainly one of the most desired acts of the weekend. The Honda Stage crowd boiled over with millennial teenage angst as the band took the stage at 6:15 opening with their hit off their newest released album, “I Don’t Know How I Survive”. Joking to the crowd about a conversation he had with his mom earlier, Ben Gibbard claimed that he was playing for a crowd for 200,000. After hearing the crowd unanimously singing “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by themselves he claimed he couldn’t tell the difference. Fans faces, whether they were smiling or crying happy tears, said it all. It was a show for the ages.
Fans strolled to T-Mobile Stage as the sun set over the Austin, Texas skyline to hear The War On Drugs. The ambiance was what the day needed to help recenter the crowd. They were the obvious choice for most diehard ACL patrons as the other options were more geared towards an electronic/rap esthetic. The lighting for the set was phenomenal, the bands production team and light designer deserve a pat on the back for their performance. The bands lead singer, Adam Granduciel, laid his emotions on the line through his raspy yet elegant voice and his band accompanied beautifully.
Bangers after bangers, Flume didn’t hesitate to pull out all the stops for his headlining performance on the Honda Stage to close out day two of ACL. Swinging his bleached hair around his customized dual controllers, the “Never Be Like You” creator made everyone witnessing feel nostalgic and energetic at the same time. He even brought out guest artists and changed his production half way though the set keeping the crowd on their toes. As one of the most decorated producers of the last decade, he was defiantly worthy of closing out Austin City Limits.
By 2pm on Sunday at ACL, fans were running and screaming towards the Amex Stage to catch a glimpse of their favorite British rockstar making his second appearance at Austin City Limits. YUNGBLUD took the stage full of energy performing his 2022 single “The Funeral”. With the heat at its peak the “Parents” singer dumped an ice cold orange cup onto his head and continued his lively act. You would never even know he and the band didn’t sleep the night before had he not said anything.
At the Barton Springs Stage fans gathered on the railings well before the scheduled run time of 3pm for Faye Webster. Shattering at every glimpse they caught of her signature blue attire. As the steel guitar rang out into the crowd and the “Atlanta” singer started to play, the crowd swayed back and for in the heat. Safe to say hearts were melted.
Bia, who’s set was scheduled just 15 minutes after, had a delayed start of about 10-15 min. While the crowd waited in anticipation, the DJ reminded everyone to stay hydrated as he hyped them up with some families hits. After the short intermission “BIA BIA” was the only thing on anyone’s mind and she didn’t let them forget it. The “WHOLE LOTTA MONEY” singer and her dancers performed amazingly.
A local favorite, Spoon, played next on the Honda Stage. Whether you’re from Austin or not, you have probably heard the band a time or two. Britt Daniel and his cream colored Fender were welcomed by a large crowd ready to hear hits like “Don’t You Evah” which they played early on in the set. The band displayed a lot of charisma on the still hot ACL stage, with Alex Fischel giving a star performance. Jim Eno displayed Little Richard on his bass drum which was a nice touch. As the sun started to find its resting point towards the end of the show, “I Turn My Camera On” started to play and all was good in the world.
The extremely popular band Japanese Breakfast was greatly anticipated through the buzz of the weekend. Fans screamed, “J Brekkie, J brekkie!” as they waited for the band to take stage. Anticipation grew As the keyboardist showed to place her water down. Finally, with Mallet in hand, Michelle Zauner appeared. The dedicated fans jumped, sang and danced to the indie pop star as she sang beautifully and occasionally hit a giant gong. It was an incredible and energetic performance.
Probably the most prominent color around ACL this year was orange but not just because of the reusable cups. Fans of all ages were rocking wigs, totems and other apparel to match Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams. Without a doubt the most anticipated concert for most, the band packed the American Express Stage to the ever-famed ACL flags. As the concert went on, the band played hits such as “Decode” and “Ain’t It Fun” with Williams running back and forth on stage pumping the crowd up. The most notable moment from the set was hearing the shear amount of people in the crowd all singing “Misery Business” in unison. While people usually do this in general any time the 2007 track is played, this time was something special.
At the Miller Lite Stage, EDM fans gathered as Grammy-nominated-producer ZHU was set to start at 7pm. Unlike his surprise appearance at ACL the year before, Zhu would be performing his ever-famed live set for attendees. This included a guitarist, drummer and saxophonist. As he stood above the LED mountain they created for him (very cool) Zhu sang his hit tracks over the dance club favorites he is best known for. The crowd went wild. Exceptional set.
Hailing from California, Red Hot Chili Peppers, probably one of the most well-known bands today, was set to kick of the final set of ACL 2022. While the band probably wasn’t happy about the sound issues they faced, they were celebrating one thing: it was Flea’s Birthday! The ever-famed rockstar bassist came out jumping high as he does before receiving his bass from his stage tech. After him and drummer, Chad Smith played for a short period accompanied by the recently returned guitarist John Frusciante. Lead Anthony Kiedis took ACL front and center. The band played a lot of music throughout the evening, mostly sticking to the hits and had less of a focus on some of their newer material from the last decade. The presence of original member, Frusciante was not missed and highly welcomed by the crowd. Like weekend one of the festival, the band did not fill their entire time slot. The reaction was melancholy to most but fans seemed extremely satisfied with the performance displayed.
As tradition holds, fireworks ended the festivities. Fans filled up their hydration packs one last time, gathered their friends and belongings and headed toward the big ACL ball as if it were a bug zapper pulling them that way. Security guards made their rounds, kicking out stragglers not yet ready for the weekend at Zilker Park to be over. Most leaving would hear attendees express the popular expression, “until next year ACL.” If not heard, they felt it.
-words & photos: Sam Wilkinson