ACL’s Best and Worst: Live Music Returns to Zilker Park


Photo courtesy of Todd Owyoung

By Morgan Gage, Jacob Tate and Michelle Gachelin 10/13/21 12:55 AM

With the return of live music and the Austin City Limits Music Festival taking control of Zilker Park again this fall, the Thresher made the trip to Austin to enjoy the ACL ourselves. With two weekends and as many performances as possible under our belt, we’ve compiled our festival highlights: the good and the bad.

ACL best appeal: fantastic lineup

To put it simply, ACL had great lineup: Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish and Tyler the creator were just a few of the big names that caught the public’s attention. With a range of really fun performances to listen to (Megan Thee Stallion, Machine Gun Kelly, Karol G) and softer tunes (Girl in Red, Joy Oladokun, Phoebe Bridgers), there was something that appealed to everyone.

Worst weather: Heavy rain and scorching heat

ACL’s first weekend was deferred with scheduled performances needing to be adjusted due to heavy rains and flooding on the festival grounds, and people on both weekends experienced sweltering temperatures that are expected in October in Texas. On the second weekend, several performers (mostly from outside Texas) commented on the heat, and the girl in red had to walk into the shaded part of the stage for part of her final song in order to avoid s ‘pass out from the heat. With audience members falling from the heat and dehydration, ACL reminded us to never underestimate the Texas weather, drink plenty of water, and be prepared to adjust when attending a festival. outdoor music.

Better understanding of the mission: Miley Cyrus

Like it or not, music festivals don’t have the same crowds as a typical concert. Audiences are often not very familiar with an artist’s music, and Miley Cyrus seemed to not only understand but embrace it as well. With nostalgic hits (“See You Again”, “The Climb”, “Wrecking Ball” and more) perfectly interwoven with the songs from her latest album, fans and casual listeners alike got to scream with her songs, laughing Cyrus playing. animations of skeletons having sex and connecting with her as she discussed her relationship with her music and fans.

Worst case of obvious lip syncing: Doja Cat

The lip-syncing witch hunts of the mid-years were, like most witch hunts, predominantly puritanical, hypocritical, and sexist. With the advent of rap music, most of the audience has even gotten used to a backing track the singer performs on. But Doja Cat’s lip-syncing, especially during the first weekend, was blatant. While the visual and dance performances were superb, the fact that Doja didn’t sing the vast majority of her lyrics left a bitter taste in my mouth. Parts of “Kiss Me More” were even censored for reusing VMA lip sync.

Better support for the Texan public: Widespread opposition to Texas abortion ban

Several ACL artists have publicly opposed and protested against the Texas abortion ban. Festival attendees held “Bans Off Our Bodies” signs during performances, and several artists vocally and materially supported access to abortion in Texas, showing solidarity with their Texan audience. ACL organizers have also supported access to abortion and have partnered with outside organizations to raise awareness and fundraise for the cause. Phoebe Bridgers released a song for the benefit of Texas Abortion Funds, FINNEAS is to give money he receives ACL in Texas Planned Parenthood and the artists leading the chants of “Fuck Greg Abbott” over the past weekend have felt more mainstream than not.

Worst Social Media Fallout: Phoebe Bridgers

We have sympathy for ACL; the performances, although staggered, require a set-up time between sets. With other artists starting performances nearby, this can create audio issues if multiple sound systems are competing against each other. However, after a hiatus when someone in the audience needed medical attention, Bridgers ran over time for her set and, in what we initially thought was an audio incident, her sound was cut off during her finale: “I Know the End,” a song that culminates in a cathartic scream that Bridgers fans anticipate.

Bridgers tweeted his displeasure with the decision (the tweet has since been deleted) and his fans reacted badly to ACL’s decision to mute for what is a rather iconic song on his discography. LCA posted an apology and donated to the Texas Abortion Funds, an organization Bridgers supports.

Best Stage Program: Lady Bird Stage on Saturdays

Let’s face the prejudice: Morgan loves queer women and pop girlies, and that’s what Lady Bird Stage offered for her Saturday lineup. When one artist’s fanatics often arrive hours earlier (Billie Eilish fans began to barricade their way during the first set of the day), they end up listening to several performers who, chances are, ‘they don’t care. However, Lady Bird’s lineup of Holly Humberstone, Girl in Red, Phoebe Bridgers, Doja Cat, and Billie Eilish formed a program that, while varying in tone, attracted a broadly similar audience, as evidenced by Hovering Morgan and returning to the stage for every performance that day.

Worst crowd: Polo G

It seems that there is a “Free ____” movement every two years, so I would like to propose “Free Polo G”. He’s not in jail or anything, he’s just been forced to endure two frat bros weekends waiting to hear “Pop Out” and not engage with any of his others. musics. Polo G put on a solid performance in front of literal kids (I counted nine pairs of braces) chanting “the gang” and sometimes the n word. On Weekend 1, Polo G finally gave up and quit his set after thirty minutes, letting his DJ realize that the 12-year-old white kids didn’t know Chief Keef’s “Faneto”. All in all, it was a shameful reception for one of the best rappers around.

Best Undercard Performance: KennyHoopla

This guy is the real deal. KennyHoopla jumped through the cuts of his 2021 “SURVIVOR’S GUILT” mixtape with manic intensity, punctuating his set with a standing backflip. The crowd screamed, mocked, and rode the crowd to find their way into the new pop punk movement. Fans of the first set were so adamant about an encore that they forced KennyHoopla back on stage to perform one of his own songs again.

Worst case of mediocrity: Tate McRae

What comes to my mind when I say, “A TikTok star had a gig?” Anyway, it’s probably close to what I watched. Bringing together a large crowd, Tate McRae delivered lukewarm dance moves, stereotypical pop songs, and, while not gruesome, it was easy enough to ignore. McRae provided, at best, background noise between much more impressive ensembles.

Ideal for potential new fans: the bleachers

Jack Antonoff gave his all on the Lady Bird stage on Friday. The multi-talented one-man show opened with a piano act, bravely clad in a leather jacket in obscene weather. Throughout his set, Antonoff impressed by constantly alternating between instruments and vocal touches. For saxophonist Evan Smith’s birthday, Antonoff shyly chanted: “The louder you scream, the louder he blows”, and the audience duly responded. He also asked the crowd to “put on their shoulders”, but Michelle doesn’t like heavy lifting. Even though she was a newcomer to Bleachers, their performance made her want to buy all of their albums (especially if accompanied by a cute saxophonist).


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