Words by Lauren Gill | Image by Joe Papeo
When I awoke on Saturday morning to clouds, I instinctively took a look at my iPhone which told me that there would only be a 30% chance of rain. Apparently Yahoo! really needs to step up its weather app, because Day 2 of ACL was a wet one. But as we’ve seen time and time again, rain only makes a festival that much more wild, and Saturday was no different!
Even though sunshine would’ve been my weather of choice on Saturday, the ominous cloudy sky offered the perfect backdrop for Zola Jesus to do what she does best: dark, moody electro-pop. With her powerful voice and disregard for anything at all cutesy, she came off as the blonde Florence Welch. It didn’t hurt that she stalked across the Honda Stage, determined to burn her sinister songs into the heavy-eyed early afternoon crowd’s memories. Stacked up against the infamous Red River Rivalry game between University of Texas and University of Oklahoma, Zola Jesus held her own, most notably belting out a flawless rendition of her hit, ‘In Your Nature’.
While the rain seemed to be holding off, Oklahoma did not, as they continued to pound into Texas, resulting in some gloomy faces on those who chose to sport their burnt orange to the festival. Consequently, they didn’t seem to mind at all when the image on the jumbotrons switched to Rufus Wainwright emerging in some sort of suit that could best be described as what would happen when a zebra mates with the cover of Elliot Smith’s Figure 8. Wainwright was comedic throughout his punchy set, even taking a stab at Liza Minelli before going into his cover of Judy Garland’s ‘The Man Who Got Away’, telling the crowd that because of her, he had to rename the tune ‘The Bitch That Got Away’. All in all, the singer/songwriter shined on the slow songs and got the crowd bouncing on the upbeat ones, undoubtedly healing the sullen Texas football fans’ wounds.
Following Wainwright, I thought I’d make it over to Metric early to secure a coveted front spot. That was all in the plan, until my ears caught wind of Oberhofer over at the Barton Springs Stage. The band’s infectious indie rock, led by frontman Brad Oberhofer, was hypnotizing to say the least. Adding to the laid-back, stoner-esque vibe of the show was Oberhofer’s often pointless, but nevertheless entertaining rants. Besides, I can’t help but be a fan of someone who dedicates a song to everyone who loves their pets. A rock star AND an animal lover, what a combination.
After pulling myself away from Oberhofer, I finally made it over to the Canadian rockers that are Metric. What did I take away from their set?, Frontwoman, Emily Haines, really knows how to command a crowd. Whether she was jamming on the keyboard, shaking the tambourine, shredding on the guitar, or just jumping around, it was clear that the stage was her home, and no one could deny that. They started with the slow-builder, ‘Artificial Nocturne’ off of their latest release, Synthetica, and progressed into its first single, ‘Youth Without Youth’. Metric didn’t stick solely to the new stuff though, they also threw in some crowd pleasers, rattling off their hits ‘Help, I’m Alive’, and the aggressive ‘Gold Guns Girls’ which were met with thunderous approval.
Before their last song, Haines told the crowd, “I’d like to dedicate this song to everyone who has dedicated their lives to rock n roll”. The first few chords revealed the track to be an acoustic version of ‘Gimme Sympathy’. This was by far the most magical moment of Metric’s set. There’s just something about hearing tens of thousands of people singing along that never ceases to be enchanting. I guarantee you that when Haines led everyone in cooing “Come on baby, play me something, like Here Comes the Sun” every single person in that crowd had goosebumps.
Sure, the crowd at Metric was asking for the sun, but it seemed to have other ideas over at Big Gigantic. Let me start by saying that I don’t know if you’ve ever danced in the pouring rain to livetronica, but wow, is it epic. Better known as Big G, they are a duo consisting of a saxophonist and drummer who play over electronic beats. With the torrential rain fueling the already crazy crowd, they threw down one of the wildest sets of the weekend, spinning everything from Knife Party’s ‘Bonfire’ to their own smash, ‘It’s Goin Down’, to which the rain seemed to come down on cue. Saxophonist and producer, Dom Lalli’s energy was electric on stage, at one point yelling out, “Austin City Limits, give me everything you fucking got, baby!” By the looks of it though, he didn’t even have to ask.
After attempting to reach some level of functional dryness, I decided to take in Belgian-Australian favorite, Gotye, at the Barton Springs Stage. Much of the crowd seemed to be under the impression that he would play ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ for the entirety of his set as grumblings of “I just want to hear that one song!” were heard amongst them. However, Gotye managed to show everyone that he has more than just one song, opening up with ‘Eyes Wide Open’ and jamming out with his vocoder on ‘State of the Art’. For those who did wait around long enough though, Gotye welcomed Kimbra to the stage for a not so surprising surprise appearance on ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’. Everyone seemed satisfied with their sing-a-long as somewhat of a mass exodus occurred before Gotye could end his set with ‘Learnalilgivinanlovin’.
Next, ACL tried to make me make one of those impossible decisions again. But, this time, they wouldn’t get the best of me and I decided to split my time. After all, it was Neil Young and Jack White that I was being asked to choose between. What would you do? I started off with Jack White, who I don’t know if you’ve heard, kind of knows how to handle a guitar. He tore through much of his album, Blunderbuss, and threw in his Raconteurs hit, ‘Steady As She Goes’ for good measure. White didn’t forget his roots, either, playing some White Stripes classics, and word on the street has it, closing out his set with ‘Seven Nation Army’ before announcing “God bless Neil Young”.
Ah, Neil Young. At the ripe age of 66, he’s certainly still got it. Performing with Crazy Horse, he delivered a searing two hours of music. If anyone was wondering why he’s such a legend, Saturday night’s performance should have cleared up any questions. Taking every available opportunity to jam out, the group were living proof that age is just a number. Regular set highlights included “Walk Like a Giant” and “Cinnamon Girl.” The classic rockers concluded the night with dazzling renditions of “Down by the River” and “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”. Everyone at ACL truly witnessed something special on Saturday night. It’s not everyday that you get to see a legend and soon to be legend all within a few hundred feet of one another.
TheWaster.com | Austin