Charles Reagan Hackleman
Day one of the second weekend at Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park went off with plenty of music and good vibes. The day featured some performances that catered to music fans of all ages.
Upon entering the festival grounds, it was clear that Austin is ready for midterms. Anywhere you stood, mobs of Beto shirts, signs and buttons were in sight—some artists even giving a shout out to the Congressman from El Paso.
Below are some highlights from day one of weekend two at ACL.
The legendary Talking Heads frontman opened his set serenading the crowd while clutching a plastic human brain. Yup, that’s just David Byrne doing David Byrne things.
Byrne and his band of a dozen or so dancers, percussionists, keyboardists and singers impressively wore matching suits in the 85-degree Austin sun. Playing solo hits as well as Talking Heads classics, the set was nothing short of a spectacle, as all band members played in a seamlessly choreographed fashion.
At one point, Byrne introduced each member of the band as they started playing their respective instruments—building up to powerful, marching band-like performance. He introduced the band in this way after telling the crowd that fans and members of the media were skeptical about the band’s ability to play live music and kept asking if they played in front of backtracks or lip sang during their performance. Clearly, all members played wirelessly and with unquestionable talent.
Bryne closed with a rousing cover of Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout,” which gave off a tropical marching band vibe and a revolutionary spirit as the song’s lyrics commemorate the names of minorities who have been violently killed.
At the American Express stage, in what frontman Matt Berninger said was the band’s last performance for a while, the group brought an hour-long survey of their career to a sea of adoring fans.
The Cincinnati five-piece remains known best for their mix of depressing, gloomy rock and blues. And although they’re the type of band you’d see in dark and smokey venues rather than sunny fields, the Grammy-winning band sounded pristine and entirely modern on a festival stage.
Fans were hypnotized by Berninger’s presence, as a major highlight in their performance was when he wandered off into the crowd during “Day I Die” and gave some attendees the chance to sing along with him.
Berninger’s funny remarks and stage antics were the centers of attention during the National’s late-afternoon set on Friday, but the guitars were really what stood out—even among the addition of a trombone, trumpet, percussionist, and guest vocals from Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry.
“It feels good to be back in Texas,” said Khalid as he took the stage at ACL on Friday. “Shout-out to El Paso, Texas.”
El Paso’s Khalid opened his energetic set with songs from his debut album, American Teen, and sang newer released throughout his set, such as “Better.”
By now, Khalid is known as one of the best-dressed singers in the business. For his performance at ACL, the R&B singer sported Nike sneakers and a button-down shirt that resembled dolphins swimming in the ocean that read “Protect Our Wildlife”.
The audience, which was made up mostly of younger people— especially in comparison to the crowd at David Byrne and Paul McCartney—sang along and danced to each song. Before ending his set, Khalid let his fans know that he has new music on the way, which we know now is a new EP named after El Paso called Suncity.
Based on the sheer volume of Beatle posters and t-shirts around the festival grounds, many folks were mainly here to see McCartney. The rock and roll legend performed for the second time at ACL on Friday, and many couldn’t contain their excitement about the 76-year-old’s ability to put on an impressive show, singing hit after hit for more than two hours
McCartney opened with “A Hard Day’s Night” and immediately, fans knew they were in for something special. Throughout his set, McCartney dedicated songs to his wife and his fellow Beatles, George Harrison and John Lennon.
Unsurprisingly, he was quite talkative and very funny. McCartney told anecdotes of everything from the Beatles’ old days in Liverpool to reactions from Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan after sending them the band’s new songs.
Though he played songs spanning his entire discography, unsurprisingly, Beatle hits like “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Love Me Do,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Blackbird,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” and “Carry That Weight” drew some of the biggest cheers and singalongs. “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude” were the two most affecting and unifying moments as people swayed their arms in unison and screamed the lyrics with joy and passion.
McCartney didn’t forget his Wings fans. “Band on the Run” and “Live and Let Die” were easily crowd favorites, as fireworks and balls of fire reigned during the performances.
McCartney was extremely lively, especially for his age, and his voice was astoundingly solid. As cheesy as it sounds, his ACL headlining performance transcended music and anyone who’s playing the Amex stage or any other for the rest of the festival will have their work cut out for them after the legendary McCartney showed how it’s done.
As he returned for an encore, Macca waved a Texas Flag as his bandmates waved American, British and LGBT Pride flags. The final tracks included “Helter Skelter,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End”.