|Photo by Roger Ho for ACL Fest|
Austin City Limits: Highlights From Weekend Two
Written by Elisa Regulski
Cool breezes ruffled the trees as festivalgoers shuffled into Zilker Park. We were all here for the second weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, but this wasn’t the typical feeling. Actually, it was the coldest fest on record.
Draped in a free airline blanket (given to me by my concerned Uber driver – what a sweet lady), I dashed to as many sets as I could. As always, the weekend was filled with diverse sounds and performances. As I reminisce about this little vacation from the world, these are the acts that will always stick with me.
|Photo by Sydney Gawlik for ACL Fest|
Covered in dazzling pink sequins and baby blue accents, the VRBO stage looked like a nostalgic talk show TV set on Friday afternoon. When Lewis glided on to the stage, she was met with a chorus of people screaming her name.
“Get it, Jenny!”
There’s something about her presence that, even when’s she’s decked out in a sparkling pink mermaid dress, Jenny Lewis is approachable enough to be greeted by her first name. It’s like a reunion of old friends. We’ve all binged her records alone in a quiet room. Now we get to revel in the lyrics together.
In her rich alto timbre, Jenny Lewis crooned songs from her latest album On The Line. Her clarion voice pierced the air on “Wasted Youth,” “Redbull and Hennessey,” and “Do Si Do,” but it was her classic Rilo Kiley hit “Silver Lining” that revved up the crowd the most.
Thousands of listeners effortlessly swayed to the music, taken in by the sweet nostalgia. Later, Jenny Lewis pivoted to a slightly more cerebral tone in “Born Secular.” You’d think the heady subject matter would discourage a crowd of carefree festival attendees, but that was far from the case.
As Lewis ruminated on her traditional church upbringing, a JL superfan leaned in my ear to tell me a story. She said her mom worried about her because she exclusively listened to Rabbit Fur Coat as a teenager. Her mom thought she was depressed.
Unsure what to make of that, I raised my beer and said “Well, you’re still here!” And she tangoed gracefully with a sparkling festivalgoer in a flower crown next to her.
As if summoned by the heavens, pink and blue balloons floated onto the field. If you’ve never been to a Jenny Lewis concert, this sums it up perfectly – there’s a mixture of joy and sorrow, regret and optimism laden in her lyrics. And even at an escapist music festival, you’ll leave feeling like you’ve just waded in the holy waters.
|Photo by Katrina Barber for ACL Fest|
A trio of sisters singing in tight, powerful harmony? Oh yes. More of this please. Every inch of their set oozed with emotion. These women show no fear, and they sent their rich tone halfway across the field on Sunday afternoon. Believe me, by the middle of their set, everyone was looking toward The American Express stage to see what they were missing.
The crowd let loose during the exuberant anthem, “White Flag.” As the buzzing energy calmed down, Joseph lured us in once again, this time without the backing band. Singer and guitarist Natalie Closner Schepman wailed on the song “Without You” as Allison and Meegan Closner supported with their perfectly balanced backup. It was impossible not to feel their strength and power.
Joseph’s latest release Good Luck, Kid is the empowering album we need right now. If you’re looking for a sonic pick-me-up, this will do the trick.
Just three years ago, I heard whispers of this new artist named Lizzo. Media were swirling around her backstage saying she was the next big thing. Hey, Speakers In Code even did a portrait session with her.
|Portrait of Lizzo backstage at 2016 ACL Fest. Photo by Rachel Waters.|
Only about 150 people showed up to her Sunday morning set in 2016. We were drained, exhausted, and beat down by the Austin heat. Yet somehow, this dynamic performer and her crew of dancers gave us the shot of adrenaline we needed.
This year, Lizzo drew a crowd of 75,000 people to the ever-so-tiny Miller Lite Stage. Due to her immense popularity from weekend one, C3 Presents decided to showcase her set on the screens near the Honda Stage (where, let’s face it, she should have been all along).
After reliving my childhood at the Third Eye Blind set, I pushed toward the Honda stage and wedged into the crowd. As I stood on top of the hill, I saw people scattering below me like a frantic swarm of ants. It was nauseating if I looked at it too long. But as soon as the screens lit up with Lizzo’s face, the energy lifted.
Lizzo’s rich voice gently reached my ears from thousands of feet away, but I still felt its power. After her opening song “Cuz I Love You,” the rest of the set was a non-stop singalong.
Complete with positive mantras of affirmation, epic twerking, and a groovy flute solo, Lizzo’s Sunday evening set was the only headliner we needed. When the lights came up and we settled back into reality, we took a bit of that inspired self love with us. Even if it’s microscopic at first, that little ray of light is going to burst and make everyone a bit brighter. There’s no doubt about this y’all: Lizzo’s changing the world.