32 Acts in 12 Days. Austin City Limits Festival 2018 and Everything In Between.
While we were only on-site at the Austin Music Festival for week one, we still managed to spend 12 days catching over 32 acts. From tapings of the iconic Austin City Limits television show to the official after shows, there is no shortage of incredible music happening in Austin throughout two weekends in October, and we tried to take advantage of it all. Jumping from genre to genre from one hour to the next, it was indeed a fantastic experience. While we love music of all styles, we do try to showcase all the tremendous Latinx artists that are touring the world today and at times that can be challenging on a "mainstream" music bill. But ACL has always made an effort to book a diverse lineup, and this year they went above and beyond booking some of the biggest acts in Latinx music and blending them seamlessly into the schedule. A packed schedule kept us pretty busy every day, and overall, we were treated to seeing legends, exciting up and coming artists and discovering artists that we had no idea would blow our minds. The second weekend of ACL just wrapped up last night, and we just caught our final performance on Saturday night, so we took a day to reflect on everything we saw and to organize our thoughts and share a full recap on Austin City Limits 2018.
We kicked off Friday with one of our personal favorites, Cuco who despite having an early set time managed to still draw a sizeable crowd on the HomeAway stage. It's exciting to see Cuco grow as an artist over the last year and his band has become tighter as his music has begun to mature. It's unfortunate that while Cuco was scheduled to return for the second weekend of the festival he and his band were involved in a car accident during the week that left Cuco requiring surgery and forcing the cancellation of the rest of his fall tour. A sad end to a triumphant weekend for an artist we hope can get back on the road soon.
From there, we made our way to the other side of the festival grounds to catch performances from Gang of Youths who were one of the most buzzed-about bands of the weekend and dreamy set from Canadian indie pop band, Alvvays. After that, we were on hand for one of our most anticipated shows of the weekend even though it was criminally early with a 3:00 pm slot for David Byrne. The iconic singer has produced one of the unique live shows in music and didn't let the sun beating him down, slow down the performance one bit. It is inspiring to see an artist that has accomplished so much challenge himself in the way that he does.
Next up we caught Khalid playing one of the most energetic sets of the day. Full disclosure: A lot of our staff is originally from El Paso, and it is wild to see a global superstar taking every opportunity to show his love from the Sun City and to see thousands of people singing references to the 915. It was a little hard to switch gears after that but with the sun slowly starting to set, we made our way to see The National on the main stage.
The band are very fired up about the current state of politics and used the high profile slot to have the candidate for District 25 in the U.S. House of Representatives, Julie Oliver to come out and speak to the crowd before the show and made several mentions throughout their set to the upcoming election. But it wasn't all politics and the band entranced the crowd with a powerful collection of songs including some of our first opportunities in Texas to see tracks from their latest, Sleep Well Beast performed live.
Closing out Friday night with Paul McCartney was terrific, to say the least, and played one of the most extended festival sets I have ever seen. For two and a half hours he powered through songs from his most recent release while performing songs from The Beatles, Wings and tribute covers to his friends and bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison. It was quite a sight to see the 76-year-old jump from instrument to instrument without taking so much as a sip of water for the entire set. You can tell that being on stage is what he truly loves and he has the perfect sense of nostalgia and humility for his accomplishments and ultimately still wants to be seen as a powerhouse musician and not necessarily as a "music legend" and what that entails. The performance has an amazing assortment of visuals and concluded with a huge fireworks show during "Live and Let Die."
Saturday was kicked off with a perfect set from Mon Laferte who may not have been familiar to some of the people towards the back of the crowd, but just a few minutes into the first song you could see she captivated onlookers and began to pull them in. The Breeders were in full form and played with renewed energy. From there, we were able to find one of our favorite discoveries from the weekend in Japanese Breakfast who dominated the stage from start to finish. Sharon Van Etten played one of her first live shows in a few years after she stepped away from touring to finish school. During Van Etten's set, we were given a preview of new material that showcases some of the changes that have happened in her life during her time away from touring.
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS 2018 - PHOTOS
All of the fun wasn't reserved for Zilker Park, and we took the opportunity to catch ACL Late Night shows from David Byrne and The National during the week. Here are some photos from the shows.