Oct. 06--No matter who tore it up onstage Saturday at the Austin City Limits Music Festival -- and reports of great sets spread through social media -- the biggest buzz was about cooler temperatures at the traditionally sweltering fest.
In the early afternoon, when Haim and and Walk the Moon squared off from opposite ends of the groove fields, it was hot and muggy. It was ACL weather. Some found refuge under Zilker trees and others huddled on tiny strips of shade found next to stages.
But the refreshing breezes started blowing in at around the time Irish band Little Green Cars came onstage at 4:30 p.m. with an a capella song to defy the sound bleed from Portugal. The Man's set a couple hundred yards away. Zilker Park was so lovely that even gubernatorial candidate -- and political rock star -- Wendy Davis was rumored to be on her way, possibly to introduce co-headliner Kings of Leon.
As temperatures dropped about 20 degrees, the action heated up on the eight stages that rim Zilker Park's Great Lawn. Rapper Kendrick Lamar, whose rhymes are a bit more street savvy than the usual hip-hop fare at ACL, drew a huge crowd on the Honda stage, while ACL faves Wilco had more room in front than at previous sets at Zilker.
In the 6 p.m. hour, indie rockers Passion Pit drew a passionate crowd willing to wave and dance wildy as instructed, while Vintage Trouble and charismatic frontman Ty Taylor had audience members mesmerized with their rock 'n' soul sound.
Besides heat, another Saturday tradition of ACL is human bottlenecks everywhere, as navigating the fest is often like swimming against 10-foot waves. But Saturday's soldout crowd of 75,000 seemed much more manageable than in years past. For the first time, ACL Fest will repeat next weekend, with almost the same lineup at the same times. Though that doesn't translate to fewer people in the park, there seems to be a more relaxed mindset this year.
Fest spokeswoman Sandee Fenton said "everything's going really well so far. The weather's got everybody in a good mood."
Cover songs rang out to draw milling crowds to the familiar and North Carolina band Delta Rae had their crowd dancing to "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac. "Back in 2006, me and my brother came to ACL Fest to listen to the music," said Ian H lljes of Delta Rae. "So for us to be playing on this stage and looking out to all these people is just blowing my mind."
More live coverage, including reviews, scene reports, photos and videos, and our team's picks for Sunday's don't-miss bands.
Coming Monday: A look back at weekend one in the Life & Arts section.
Band recommendations from our team:
11:15 a.m. Aaron Behrens and the Midnight Stroll. The Ghostland Observatory frontman goes for a more guitar-heavy sound. (Honda)
12:45 p.m. Typhoon. Portland-based indie folk outfit with an ensemble that numbers 10 to 18 executing grandiose orchestral maneuvers. (Honda)
1 p.m. The Mowgli's. It's a joyful noise when these new Mamas and the Papas get together. (Bud Light)
3 p.m. McCrary Sisters. High-energy gospel music from Nashville. (Zilker Tent)
3 p.m. Paper Diamond. This year's lineup has scant EDM offerings, but this mid-afternoon set by a Colorado artist with a great ear for soulful hooks and banging beats should get the crowd grooving. (Bud Light)
4 p.m. Franz Ferdinand. The ACL 2005 vets are comeback contenders with the just-released "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action," a competent and fulfilling listen. (Samsung Galaxy)
6 p.m. Red Baraat. A genius, only-in-America mashup of an Indian party band and a New Orleans brass outfit with healthy doses of hip-hop rhyme and go-go rhythm thrown in for good measure. (Zilker Tent)
7 p.m. Phoenix. For as the sun begins to dip and you feel like dancing on into the darkness. (Bud Light)
7:30 p.m. Neko Case. Charming, gutsy rock chanteuse Ms. Case has emotional honesty down to a science. She'll have you in the palm of her hand and in the strings of her guitar. (Austin Ventures)
7:30 p.m. Shuggie Otis. He's the "missing" link between Sly and Prince no more. (Zilker Tent)
8:30 p.m. Atoms For Peace vs. Lionel Richie. Here are the questions you need to ask yourself. Do I really want to hear Lionel Richie sing "Hello?" What about "Dancing on the Ceiling"? Atoms for Peace is a collaboration of rock juggernauts, but at this point do I have the patience to watch Thom Yorke, Flea and company explore their artsy, non-commercial urges? Will I be crushed if their set produces moments of genius and I miss it? Do I want to skip the shuttle lines? How good does a shower sound? Once again, choose your own adventure, and choose wisely.
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