America has become the hotbed for music festivals all around the world. It seems like nowadays you can find yourself at a festival on any given weekend throughout the year. We have covered a fair share of fest ourselves throughout the years, safe to say nothing compares to The Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, Texas. Having covered the fest for a few years now, this year the lineup was probably one of the best in recent history. we had a chance to roam around and capture some of the best moments from both weekends. We picked our favorites from the slew of artist that provided for three days of amazing music.
People here in Denver will recognize the name as he recently played a Red Bull Sound Select show at Larimer Lounge not long ago. His mid-day set on Friday packed in the Home Away stage, the talented R&B (folk, hip hop) singer from Atlanta was energetic and delivered a soulful set that had the crowd swooning when it was all set and done. Cut from the same thread as Pharell, we expect big things from the up and coming artist.
Banks and Steelz:
Super groups have always been hit or miss. Often enough when you mix two different dynamics you never know what to expect. In the case of Banks and Steelz you mix in one part Interpol and one part Wu Tang Clan. At first it sounds like a recipe for disaster but upon listening to them live it gives you one of the most intriguing sounds of the year. Paul banks serenades you with his distinct voice while The RZA's sharp lyrics and production complete one another to form a bond of musical mastery. Their early set had many in the crowd bobbing their head to the unexpected beat.
We are always on the hunt to check out new music that we never heard before. Catching them in a festival is more gratifying as to the fact that you know they are going to push the boundaries for an unforgettable set. Friday took us to catch Flight Facilities. We gotta admit we were flying into this one blind (pun intended). Their upbeat dance anthems were enough to sway us into a good time. Featuring guest vocalist throughout their set the duo consists of Hugo Gruzman and James Lyell. Flanked by a pyramid stage and adorned in full flight pilot outfits it was the first early dance party of the day.
The lads from across the pond continue to impress overtime we see them. I would say we have seen them close to 4-5 times in the last year and a half. We were fortunate enough to catch them while here in Austin for an ACL Live tapping. Their Friday set was pretty energetic as frontman Yannis Philippakis gives every ounce of energy during their live shows. A packed stage saw the band perform a mix of all of their albums including favorites "Inhaler", "Mountain At My Gates", and the ever dance friendly "My Number".
The anticipation for this performance has been slowly simmering since they were first announced as headliners for this fest. While we have been following the various dates on the tour including many festival stops, it would bare no comparison to seeing them live. The Friday night headliners provided for, what has to be one of the tours best sets in terms of songs they played. They managed to play a rather "fan favorite friendly" set from beginning to end. Flanked by the brothers Greenwood, Ed O'Brien and Phil Selway along with Portishead drummer Clive Deamer, the band ripped through the two hour set taking us through past generations of songs such as "Let Down", "Just", "My Iron Lung", and "Paranoid Android". The set relied heavily on material from In Rainbows including "All I Need", "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi", "Bodysnatchers", "Nude", and "Reckoner". The performance also marked a special occasion for Mr. Thom Yorke as he celebrated a birthday as well, the thousands in attendance took time to sing him the traditional Happy Birthday ballad that Yorke accepted with graciousness.
We have seen some major strides by these fellas. It was not long ago they were playing smaller venues across the country, Saturday they wowed the masses with one of the most suprising sets of the day. Well done Saint Motel, not long before you guys get that primetime slot at night.
This was one of our favorite sets of the day. Andra Day channeled her inner Nina Simone and Billie Holiday for an amazing set in what was the hottest performance of the weekend. Sweltering heat did not keep her from delivering a knockout soulful punch.
LL Cool J and Z Trip
What can we say two legends honing their own respected craft we have come to love. The precision turntablism of Z Trip and old school hip hop of LL Cool J on the same stage. LL played all the hits which took us back to the Round Away Girl days to the Mama Said Knock You Out days. Looking like he hasn't missed a step, LL managed to entertain the crowd during the duration of his epic set.
A crowd favorite Melanie Martinez delivered her style of bubble gum pop to the rather younger crowd in the audience. Flanked by a stage resembling an infants nursery Martinez had the crowd swooning with hits "Cry Baby" and "Pity Party". One of the more enjoyable sets of the Saturday early evening.
The prince of hip hop was ready to make his headlining performance on the main stage one for those to talk about for years to come. Reaching from his catalog of hits Lamar gave the crowd an unforgettable performance. Not bad for a guy who was playing a much smaller stage only a few years ago. With a much more mature style and richer sound thanks to a full band Lamar tore through staples like "Backseat Freestyle", "King Kunta", and "Alright".
Country music's next biggest star laid into a great performance on Sunday as Margo Price continues to take a name for herself in her specific genre. Price entertained an early afternoon crowd with her hits "Four Years of Chances", and "Hands of Time". It won't be long until she becomes a mainstay on the festival circuit playing the main stage.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Denver boys Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats have been making a name for themselves among the festival circuit. Touring non-stop for the latter half of the last two years Rateliff and the boys have been dancing up a storm all along the way. With that throwback chiseled sound of yesteryear, the band makes it a point that you will dance throughout their whole set. Such was the case with their late afternoon Sunday set. With a new record coming soon we cannot wait to see these guys again here in Denver.
Putting the finishing touches on their festival circuit James Murphy and company closed out the 2016 Austin City Limits Music Festival in grand fashion. A dance party of epic proportions they didn't hold back as the crowd ate up every ounce of energy emitting from the Brooklyn band. Hits such as "All My Friends", "Dance Yrself Clean", and "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" were a perfect ending to an otherwise perfect festival. Set among the banks of Zilker Park, ACL continues to make for the most fun music festival in the world. Until next year Austin.