As the Austin City Limits Music Festival raced back for its second day, festival-goers prepped for the musical circus by massaging their sore dancing feet and guzzling fizzy mimosas. Football games threatened to tackle their attention, but everyone knew where their real priorities belonged. By noon, droves of folk, rap, and indie rock fans poured through the gates. If yesterday’s crowd was overwhelming, Saturday’s felt downright claustrophobic.
Father John Misty lured the lyric-loving listeners to the Honda stage with his dark and twisty sense of humor. Gliding across the stage in his black suit jacket and artfully messy man bun, Misty (Joshua Tillman) yanked the mic from its stand and warmly wooed the ladies with “I love you Honeybear.” The lyrics preached that “everything is doomed and nothing will be spared,” but the shimmering sunshine seemed to disagree with that doctrine.
“When You’re Smiling and Astride Me,” was as gooey as the melting granola bars tucked away in fanny packs. The heat destroyed snacks, but it didn’t limit the crowd’s wardrobe choices. Even in the bullseye of the baking Texas sun, fans rocked the long sleeved lumberjack look. Sweat rained down on those bundled up revelers during Tillman’s surfy rendition of “I’m Writing a Novel.”
Father John Misty’s languishing, despairing ballad “Bored in the U.S.A” almost sent chests sinking toward the grass, but, in typical Tillman fashion, the singer/songwriter turned the performance into a satirical commentary laced with dark humor. His intention reached the listeners when he snatched a fan’s cellphone and took a selfie during the song’s chorus. When he bellowed the lyrics, “They gave me a useless education,” the fans on the grass actually cheered in self-deprecating recognition.
After some breezy indie Americana action from Indiana’s Houndmouth and Austin’s own Shakey Graves, 21 Pilots brought their kooky combination of genres to the Samsung stage. Looking like they popped straight out of a Hot Topic advertisement, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun stormed the stage wearing fleece hoodies and ski masks. “Stressed Out”’s hip hop/pop hybridization immediately ignited the toe tappers and arm wavers.
Like a surreal Samuel Beckett play, the 21 Pilots set grew more and more trippy. At one moment Joseph craned his neck into a hanging microphone and in another he climbed to the top of the stage and loomed over the rafters.
Across the field, Walk the Moon dazzled an enormous and ever-growing mass of music fans. Nicholas Petricca’s pink hair blazed under the lights during the catchy (and vapidly fluffy) “Different Colors.” As the pop music magicians continued their fizzy performance at The Miller Lite Stage, Alabama Shakes fans headed to the Honda stage to secure a spot for Brittany Howard’s magnetic music. Voices hummed to Walk the Moon’s summertime anthem “Anna Sun” from across the park as the sound effortlessly wafted that direction.
The first stratospheric pitch in Alabama Shakes’ “Future People” sent goosebumps down sunburned arms. Even with the crowd’s blistered feet and cramping muscles, gentle happiness floated through the air. Journeys through the lawnchair obstacle course halted when Alabama Shakes played “Shoegaze.” It wasn’t about the view anymore; all that mattered was making “memories–precious and temporary.”
When Howard’s final chord faded from eardrums, crowds swarmed to The Samsung Stage to get a clear view for Drake. Whether they liked it or not, the hour-long wait for the headliner undoubtedly brought groups closer together. Most fans made the most of it by passing beer along to strangers and guessing about Drake’s setlist. Some people abandoned the standing-close-to-strangers game and jetted over to deadmou5 at the other end of the park.
For those who diligently waited, Drake brought an explosive performance full of pyrotechnic power. The limited stage decorations made room for his overpowering presence and the captivating light show. Playing favorites such as “Legend” and “HYFR,” Drake sparked a massive dance party that spanned highlights from his entire career.
The adrenaline hardly died down once the festival wrapped up at 10:00. The roads surrounding Zilker buzzed with an orchestra of buskers, vendors, and taxi cabs. Sixth Street undoubtedly got even dirtier when the hordes of amped up partiers paraded through. There’s only one more day to bask in the first weekend of ACL. And, by the looks of it, these colorful partygoers will make it count.