Coverage by Waylon O’Day and Raj Radia
The third and final day of the fifteenth annual Austin City Limits Music Festival has come and pass. I have to thank both the festival promoters and the music gods for a relaxing Sunday afternoon, after two days of nonstop walking, standing, jumping, and sometimes running I felt as though my mind and body had separated. However, with performances from the legendary Willie Nelson, LCD Soundsystem, and Young the Giant brought me back to earth.
Domo Genesis was the performer I was looking forward to the most at ACL. Personally, I think he is one of the most underrated artists to come out of the Odd Future collective. I was excited to see what he would do with his live show. When I walked up to the stage, I noticed that he had a full band. From all the live videos I have seen online, I never saw him perform with a band, so I was excited. Most of the songs he played were off his new album “Genesis.” He didn’t play any old music until the end of his set, when he closed with “Buzzin.” Overall it was a cool set. It showed another side of Domo I did not know existed.
St Paul and the Broken Bones
The six piece soul band from Birmingham, Alabama could not have been given a better time to perform at ACL. It was late Sunday as the sun started to descend, and the band which I am not all that familiar with came out with a brass filled ballad that gave me the confidence to sit down on the lawn and close my eyes and let the music envelop me, something I hadn’t felt comfortable enough to do for most of the weekend until this moment. The only downfall that I could observe was the seemingly fluidity between their songs, which made the whole set feel like a handful of ten minute songs, making their hour long set drag on for what seemed more than an hour. Oh, and their lead singer proves that white boys can have soul, as if Van Morrison didn’t teach us that forty years ago, but regardless I laughed a few times seeing this guy in his bright red suit, belting these high notes that even made my underwear feel a bit tight.Honestly, despite my gripes, I really enjoyed this set, I just wish I would have done a little more homework on St. Paul and the Broken Bones.
I really don’t think I can help you comprehend what a huge moment seeing Willie is for me. I had seen him twice prior, once as a small child when Willie, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings toured as the Highwayment, and once at Free Press Summer Fest about three years ago. So you may have noticed my name is in fact Waylon, yeah, my parents named me after Waylon Jennings, and just based off of my name, I have always felt a strong connection with Willie, as though we were kindred spirits. The eighty three year old icon was introduced by famous Texas native, Matthew McConaughey who whipped the crowd into a frenzy, before the man, the legend, the myth came on stage. There Willie stood, with Trigger, his ancient, fabled guitar as he opened with a deconstructed version of “Whiskey River,” little did I know all of his set would be like this. He didn’t necessarily sing the words, but he didn’t just speak them, it more of a rhythmic chant, and can you blame him? He’s an eighty-three year old man, some of us can’t even wipe our asses when we get that old, this guy can go out on stage and sing to tens of thousands of people, albeit more of a chant. Some audience members were just in awe that they were witnessing this, while others expressed discontent over the fact that they hadn’t seen Nelson ten years prior. I felt as though any performance from Willie, no matter how deconstructed and slowed down for an old’s man pace the set was, I was still full of excitement that I was witnessing him once again. Other songs included, “It’s All Going to Pot,” a song he did with the late Merle Haggard, “Goodhearted Woman,” a Waylon Jennings song, “Georgia on My Mind,” “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” “On the Road Again,” “Always on My Mind,” and what appeared to be a crowd favorite in “Roll Me Up.” Now, I was probably standing behind twenty to fourty thousand other people, so I wasn’t able to completely hear what was going on onstage, so I’m sure I missed some songs like Waylon’s “Momma, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” the early classic “Hello Walls,” and “Pancho and Lefty,” another song Nelson wrote with the late Haggard. All in all, Willie Nelson will forever be one of the biggest names in Country music, and specifically Outlaw Country Music, and a chance to see him is like the chance to see Jimi Hendrix, or Elvis, or the Beatles. All of them were formative forces in their own right, and all are household names, the only difference is, we still have Willie, and we should cherish his life and his music for as long as we are given the privilege. Long live Willie, Waylon and the Boys!
Porter Robinson and Madeon
Porter Robinson and Madeon’s set was one of the highlights of Sunday. Their performance had the whole crowd in a state of awe. At the beginning, they played some of their more poppy music, which was a little bit hard to get into for me. As the set went on, they started to play more of their electronic and dance songs, which was when the crowd really started to get into their music. Their performance had the most engaging visuals. Porter Robinson and Madeon didn’t speak much during the set, but they let their visuals talk for them. Each visual they had personified each song and instead of talking, they had visuals to accompany the breaks. Towards the end of the set, they started using their pyrotechnics, which really captured the audience. Everyone lost their minds and danced as hard as they possibly could.
Young the Giant
It had probably been three or four years since I had seen the Californian band at Free Press Summer Fest, it was right as there were starting to hit their strides in the industry with their single “Cough Syrup,” started to find radio play, and since then it has been one solid release after another. That’s honestly easier said than done in today’s music industry, where if you play rock n’ roll you are immediately billed as either Indie, Alternative, or Mainstream. Young the Giant comfortably finds a middle ground, they have a Coldplay-esque sound, but lyrics that don’t read like a typical rock song, they are full of emotion and transparency. Most of their set consisted of tracks from their latest album, Home of the Strange, including “Silvertounge.” Early on in the set, the band played “Cough Syrup,” which caused an explosion of ecstasy amongst the crowd as not a single soul was seen standing still. This theme continued across their hour long set, culminating in what was probably my favorite moment of the festival. Before playing their finale, lead singer Sameer Gadhia told the crowd he knew that we were all tired, but just to give it one more shot. If it were any other song, I would’ve started headed to my next set but the chorus of “My Body” convinced me to stay for what I consider a life changing moment. The chorus of the song goes, “My body tells me no-oh, but I can’t quit, ’cause I want more,” a perfect description for what was going on in my mind. My legs, back, and head all felt as though they had been beaten by a baseball bat, but for those three minutes, I wanted nothing more than to jump, scream, and shout with all the other people who had gathered at the Miller Lite stage. It was a beautiful thing, arms, from front to back, high in the air, rising and falling. Just reliving the experience gives me goosebumps, seeing this mass of people, hearing and experiencing the same thing, all as one.
LCD Soundsystem was the perfect band to close the festival. These ACL veterans took the festival out with a bang. This was the last date on their “Survival” tour and their last performance before they enter the studio to record their new album. They started off their set with “ Us vs. Them,” which had the crowd moving. There was mixed reactions from the crowd throughout the performance, until the end. The capped of their set with “Dance Yrself Clean” and “All My Friends.” Everyone started dancing and had a blast.
Thank you so much for checking out Coog Radio’s concluding coverage to the fifteenth annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, here’s to fifteen more ACL. Thank you for the great times as always, if you’re like us and don’t want to return to the real world, RedBull tv is streaming selected sets online, on-demand for a limited time, so go check those out. Check the website tomorrow for Waylon and Raj’s favorite and least favorite sets from the music festival that set the industry standard.