Day three of of Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL Fest) was marked with killer hard rock by White Reaper, a crazy set by 070 Shake, witnessing the sorcery of the high-priestess of hip-hop, Erykah Badu, watching Tyler the Creator sink on his boat themed performance, and Duran Duran delivering a white hot set that made folks forget it was supposed to be Stevie Nicks instead of the UK dance-rock mainstays.
Louisville’s White Reaper had the unfortunate circumstance of being slotted in at the giant Honda Stage at 2:30 p.m. when there was not a slice of shade to be found out front. That meant a less than impressive crowd that were lucky enough to see the irreverent garage-punks power through a killer, guitar-driven set that included an apt cover of Nirvana’s “Aneurysm.” Anyone watching that performance couldn’t help but be charged up at the conclusion of the show.
Upcoming young rapper, Danielle Balbuena, better known as 070 Shake took the Tito’s Vodka Stage not long after White Reaper in front of an oversized crowd trying their best to cram underneath the tent that covers the area.
The Dominican New Jersey-born artist gained a large audience due to her affiliation with Kanye West and other high-profile rappers. She has a decidedly urban look, sporting black combat boots, baggy black jeans tucked into them, and armbands that appear to be bandages. She certainly isn’t a shrinking violet performer either, eventually screaming into her microphone when her backing track failed during the show.
Not long into the set, Shake invited fans onto the stage to join her for the next song. And they did without skipping a beat, clambering over the barricades to get in on the fun while festival security staff scrambled to keep up. The young fans who comprised the bulk of the audience knew every word, singing along at each opportunity. It was a crazy, fun mess. One thing is clear though, 070 Shake is on her way up the musical food chain quickly.
Just after the sun set on Zilker Park where the festival takes place, Erykah Badu’s band took their places at the Miller Stage. The band ran through a long, extended introduction that set the tone for the performance before Badu finally appeared, resplendent in a glittery, sparkly, rainbow coverall over her outfit which looked like something an experienced festival goer might put on with fuzzy boots and colorful clothing topped by one of those cowboy hats that singer Pharrel likes to wear.
Given Badu is known for arriving late; the singer had a famously short set due to her arriving at Zilker Park late at ACL Fest in 2008. This was a make-up performance of sorts and the high-priestess of hip-hop delivered with a fantastic ensemble band behind her with talented backing singers harmonizing with the legendary Dallas artist during tracks, “Honey” and popular track (the crowd cheered when the band began playing it) “Tyrone” near the end of the amazing performance. It may have been the most eloquent set of the entire weekend.
Then it came time for the headliners. Wildly popular, Grammy-winning hip-hop artist, Tyler the Creator played the main Lady Bird Lake stage with the Austin skyline in the background. The Los Angeles rapper’s set pieces included a speed boat, boat dock and an adopted personna of a middle-aged tourist complete with a loud Hawaiian shirt, bermuda shorts and dark loafers with white socks.
While his theatrics can be appreciated, the actual performance fell a bit flat. From the VIP riser, his voice was loud and crystal clear. The music? Not so much. It was as if the front of house sound engineer was told to mute the music and put Tyler’s vocal mic at 11. After almost 30 minutes of low-energy performance and poor sound quality, many folks were seen leaving the huge crowd amassed for Tyler. Some went to Duran Duran at the opposite end of the park.
Midway through UK rock legends Duran Duran’s set the group played the ballad, “Ordinary World.” Singer Simon Le Bon’s voice, although perhaps not as good when he was younger, still hit the high notes successfully earning applause from their growing audience. Next, the band turned up the dial with their cover of Mellie Mel’s “White Lines.” It turned the Honda Stage into an instant dance-party complete with star-laser lights and an animated Le Bon who cavorted around the stage shamelessly all night as if he were 20 years younger.
The remainder of the set list was hit-filled. UK certified gold single “Hungry Like the Wolf” came next followed by the band’s delicious, first top ten song, “Girls on Film.” That track segued into “Acceptable in the 80’s” during which, the band slowed it down so that Le Bon could introduce everyone on stage finishing with his corny but cute, “And I’m Bon… Simon Le Bon” before the band thanked the ACL Fest crowd.
A two-song encore capped the penultimate performance of the day with “Save a Prayer” followed by MTV hit, “Rio” which left satisfied smiles on the faces of exhausted fans as they shuffled out of Zilker Park on their way home.
All photos by Maggie Boyd