Coverage by Waylon O’Day and Junior Fernandez
The second day of this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival featured such big name acts as Ice Cube, Chance the Rapper, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and many others, and Coog Radio was there to give you the 411 on what you missed out on.
Car Seat Headrest
Car Seat Headrest’s vocalist and local sad boy, Will Toledo, looks like something out of Ezra Koening’s Neo Yokio. He wears black old skool vans and geeky lab goggles as he leans back and forth/away and towards the microphone. Sometimes he takes his goggles off and they hang perfectly around his neck. All in all, he doesn’t do much but there is a charm to being that kind of sad boy. “How awesome would it be if it rained right now,” joked guitarist Ethan Ives as they got ready to sing their last song, “It would be like the ending to a Miyazaki production.” Toledo has a gift for storytelling. He sings about substance abuse and 20-something existential angst. “Last Friday I took acid and mushrooms/ I did not transcend, I felt like a walking piece of shit/ In a stupid looking jacket,” he sings on “(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School For Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem).” His voice breaks as he reaches the closing refrain, “Friends are better, friends are better with/ Drugs are better, drugs are better with/ Friends are better, friends are better with/ Drugs are better than friends.” The track reads like a diary entry – beginning with a hangover account and ending with an existentialist reflection on the cyclical nature of drug use.
The indie-folk, country-indie artist from St. Louis, known as Angel Olsen, came to the Miller Lite stage 40 minutes early to participate in her own soundcheck, influencing many fans to stand in anticipation of what was about to come. As the sun descended behind the trees, Olsen’s band came to the stage sporting matching suits, complete with bolo ties, making them look like some sort of southwestern version of the Reservoir Dogs. As they played through their first song, Olsen came onto the stage with huge applause, wearing sunglasses and a lime green dress. After playing opener “High & Wild,” Olsen let the crowd know that she had caught a “dust cold,” which is not surprising at all, as by the second weekend of ACL, the usually lush grass in Zilker Park is turned into a fine dust that finds its way into any and every crevice of everyone in attendance, artist and fan alike. Although she claimed to be sick, you wouldn’t have been able to tell, besides the coughs at the end of most songs, and the passing of lozenges by Olsen and her band-mates. In what seems to be the new festival trend, Olsen played her most popular song, “Shut Up Kiss Me,” early in her set, leading to a small migration of fans. However, those who left missed one hell of a show as Olsen and her band would play other fan favorites such as “Sister,” and “Special.” In between songs, Olsen would joke with the crowd, saying they were quiet, but understanding their lethargy due to the oppressive sun. At one point she invited the audience back to the artist lounge, but explained that she couldn’t actually do it because “its complicated.” The band closed with “Windows,” before doing an encore in the form of “Sweet Dreams.” Angel Olsen and her band are world-class performers, even if they were sick, if you’re a fan of Southern-fried indie-folk music this is a band I cannot recommend enough. I hope in the near future I will be able to see Olsen and her band live, hopefully when they are in better health, which is why I think they never got to playing my personal favorite, “Never Be Mine.” All in all this was one of the more solid performances I had seen at ACL this year…so far.
Most of our generation knows Ice Cube as an actor from movies such as “Boyz in the Hood,” “Friday,” and “Are We There Yet?” Ice Cube is also aware that this is how most young people perceive him, however, he made it abundantly clear during his hour-long set that he is so much more than that. The American Express stage was packed as Ice Cube and Dub-C came to the stage opening with “Natural Born Killaz,” before going into a number of his earlier songs when he was a part of N.W.A. Of his old group’s songs, he performed “Straight Outta Compton,” as well as “F**k the Police.” Oddly enough, Cube followed this up by performing “the greatest diss track in the history of the world,” a song he penned after leaving N.W.A, “No Vaseline.” Throughout the set Cube and Dub would talk to the crowd, trying to get the already exhausted audience into the set. Highlights of the set were songs such as “Check Yo’ Self,” and “You Know How We Do It,” however every single song was performed expertly by one of the most famous MCs in hip-hop history. Near the end of the set, Ice Cube talked to the crowd, saying any day you see Ice Cube, it’s a good day, an obvious segue into one of the MCs more popular songs, the legendary, “Today Was a Good Day.” I was ecstatic to see Cube live, but much like any hip-hop artist I see live, I feel as though most of the rhyming is done by the right-hand man, who in this case was Dub-C. Not to say it was bad set by any means, it was just sort of a let down not to hear Cube say my favorite line from his closer: “It’s ironic, I had the brew, she had the chronic/ The Lakers beat the Supersonics.”
Tove Lo also sings about drugs and disillusion. “I gotta stay high all the time/ To keep you off my mind,” she sings on “Habits (Stay High),” a song about coping with a broken heart and the biggest hit off 2014’s Queen of the Clouds. “I sing a lot about heartbreak because I’ve been through a lot of heartbreak,” Tove Lo told the decently-sized crowd at her 7pm Barton Springs set. The crowd sang along to almost every song and Tove returned the love with energetic renditions of recent hits “Disco Tits,” “Cool Girl,” and Flume collab “Say It.” She danced and jumped onstage showing off her abs in a red tracksuit reminiscent of an early era Britney Spears. All in all you could say Tove Lo is a cool girl.
Chance the Rapper
I saw Chance the Rapper for the first time two years back during ACL 2015. Back then he had a smaller stage and a smaller crowd but he was just as humble and as excited as he was last night at the Honda stage surrounded by hundreds of people that chose him over the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “I’m only here by his grace,” Chance told the massive crowd as he got ready to, quite literally, take them to church. Accompanied by a choir he sang “Blessings,” a gospel filled track off of 2016’s Coloring Book. “I know the difference in blessings and worldly possessions/Like my ex-girl getting pregnant and her becoming my everything/I’m at war with my wrongs,” he rapped as both the choir and the crowd sang, “”I’m gon’ praise Him/Praise Him ’til I’m gone.” He delivered performances of “No Problem” and “Same Drugs” with the same intensity. Chance is a great performer – Kanye’s best prodigy.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The living legends: Flea, Anthony Kiedis, and Chad Smith, who collectively make up the Red Hot Chili Peppers gave the absolutely humongous crowd that gathered at the American Express stage a once in a lifetime performance Saturday night. Half an hour prior to their entrance on the stage, the crowd was already electric, waiting to see the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famers. As the clock struck 8:10, the crowd grew silent, and then out of nowhere came Flea and Chad Smith along with guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, who proceeded to jam for about five minutes, leaving many wondering where the enigmatic lead singer of the group, Anthony Kiedis was. They did not have to wait long as Kiedis came onto the stage wearing an “I (Heart) L.A” shirt, before opening it up with the down-right dirty “Around the World.” A heavy dose of nostalgia was on display as the band and crowd sang together through RHCP’s hit songs such as “Snow ((Hey Oh)),” “Otherside,” and “Universally Speaking.” Between the first few breaks of songs, Flea, the mythical bassist of the band, would come to the mic stage left and address the crowd, often hooping and hollering at the crowd, trying to get them more riled up than they already were. Throughout the set, there were long instrumental sections, during which Flea and Klinghoffer would stand face-to-face, plucking out the notes to the intensely difficult solo sections. About midway through the set, the band played “Californication,” before playing a Stevie Wonder cover of “Higher Ground,” all while Kiedis ran around the stage like an absolute madman, not showing any signs of aging after 30 plus years on the road. Following the Wonder cover, the band closed their set out with crowd favorites “Under the Bridge,” and “By the Way.” Then Kiedis said “We love you Texas, if you didn’t already know that by now,” dropping the mic and exiting the stage with the rest of the band. There was about five minutes of silence as some fans began to retreat for the exits before Klinghoffer came to the stage to perform a goose-bump-inspiring solo cover of the late Tom Petty’s “A Face in the Crowd.” Then the rest of the band reappeared for their encore performance of “Goodbye Angels,” and “Give it Away,” a perfect ending to a near perfect set. Growing up a fan of this group, the only thing I can complain about is that they didn’t play their entire discography. They played just as well as the videos I grew up watching, and they sounded even better than the recordings, I never truly appreciated Flea’s expertise until the performance. I can truly say that this is probably one of the best live acts I have ever seen, their ability to get a crowd that varied widely in every demographic to move and groove to the beat is something I have never seen, and something I imagine I might never see again. This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and something I will not soon forget.
What do you think? Did you go yesterday? If you did, how was it? What did you see? Check in tomorrow for our reviews of the final day of the Austin City Limits Music Festival.