Lazy Sundays often consist of grocery shopping, vacuuming and Netflix binging, but that mundane grind doesn’t exist when you rock an ACL wristband. The third day of the Austin City Limits Music Festival fully encapsulated the phrase Sunday Funday. Sure, some partiers got a late start after having a raucous Saturday evening, but nothing would prevent them from expending every last drop of music-loving joy for the third day.
Dripping with transcendental, peaceful vibes, Lord Huron’s set felt like the musical embodiment of a Henry David Thoreau poem. The chirping bird sounds peeping through the speakers made sweaty pores and grassy blankets feel like a lavender-laden spa. Though not especially jaunty or heart-racing, Lord Huron’s performance captured the fans’ eardrums and kept their eyes glued to the stage.
Heralded by a brassy fanfare, The Decemberists processed to the Honda Stage later that afternoon. Frontman Colin Meloy appropriately opened the set with “Beginning Song” from their latest album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. Fans attempted to raise their voices on “Calamity Song,” but the text-heavy lyrics proved too wordy to sing along to. Hums and snaps would have to do.
Pulses quickened with eagerness when Jenny Conlee draped the accordion over her shoulders for “Mariner’s Revenge.” This silly sea shanty showcased the best of The Decemberists’ adventurous storytelling and spectacular theatrics. Before splashing in, however, Meloy had to be certain the crowd knew how to scream like they were being swallowed by a whale. When the band deemed us ready, the resulting nine minutes spiraled with uninhibited joy. As the campy cardboard whale gobbled the musicians, howling guffaws and cheers erupted from field. The avalanche of accordion riffs steadily accelerated until the entire crowd was out of breath from exhaustion.
After alt-J’s sparkling light show, the masses huddled to the HomeAway stage to hear Hozier. Even twenty minutes before his set, people could see that this Irish singer/songwriter needed a bigger venue. Fans could hardly breathe (much less dance) amongst the thousands of people, but Hozier’s sonic scenery made up for it. The backup singers’ wailing whistle tones created an exceptional aural ambiance in “From Eden” and “To Be Alone.” His cover of Ariana Grande’s “Problem” reverberated with his signature campfire comfort, and even non-Hozier lovers sprinted towards the stage to jam to this version.
The air buzzed with anticipation as Strokes fans waited an extra twelve minutes for the evening’s headliner. Once The Strokes revved up their roaring guitars and soared in with “Is This It,” it was clear that they could afford to be fashionably late. Fans would have happily waited another thirty minutes to rock out to such hits as “Someday” and “You Only Live Once.”
At the other end of the park, The Weeknd’s sudden strobe lights flashed like polaroid cameras. Fans lingered by the Honda Stage as early as 4:00 to snag an uninhibited view of Abel Tsfaye and his sliding silvery voice. It’s almost impossible to stand still while listening to “Can’t Feel My Face,” and, much like this year’s first ACL weekend, Sunday night’s bobbing dance bubble won’t be easily forgotten.