Jess Glynne’s voice echoed through Zilker on Friday afternoon, spreading a cheerful attitude mirrored by the crowd and those finding their way to start their weekend. She wowed with her cover of Prince’s “I Feel For You” just before she closed out her set. Banks & Steelz were worth getting to the Samsung stage early, while The Front Bottoms teased and tested the crowd’s football knowledge in between songs. The Strumbellas drew a crowd that may have seemed to be full of stragglers, but everyone easily sang along to “Spirits” even those that may not have known that they knew all the words.
Both the crowd and St. Lucia got lost in the music, delivering a performance that would’ve had Bowie dancing in his grave. The Cirrus Lodge was packed for Torey Lanez before mobbing over to see Die Antwoord’s much-anticipated set. Die Antwoord isn’t exactly new to the game, but they lived up to the hype with a trippy, high-energy set that stole the show/ the whole park complete with Snapchat ghosts standing out against plenty of glitter and smoke.
The Zilker crowd seemed to have quadrupled as people rushed to get a good spot for M83, Band of Horses, or Flume. Seeing Flume may have at times felt like a real-life version of The Hunger Games, but it was easy to see why there was so much pushing, but then also to forget about the crowd politics 5 minutes later. The evening closed with Diplo coming in hot, rolling out on stage with Major Lazer Flaming Lips style and declaring their love for Texas girls. The twerking then ensued. However, many fans were able to extract themselves just in time to sprint to the end of Radiohead.
Saturday’s mood was way up with Jazz Cartier climbing the stage during his early set. Nothing But Thieves and HONNE made for a slightly difficult choice early on, yet no one was left disappointed. Chiller vibes flowed from Caveman, meanwhile Luis De Mar gave the crowd something heavier out of Brooklyn on the Cirrus Lodge stage. The grunge metal attracted wanderers throughout their set which made for a very lively crowd despite the presence of skeletons on sticks.
Gallant brought a crowd of all ages to Cirrus Lodge. He finished with an always-incredible performance of “Weight in Gold”. Even after his dramatic throwing of drumsticks to signal the end, several mothers were the ones debating whether or not the possibility of an encore was on the table.
As the sound of Saint Motel’s opening carried across the park, it wasn’t an uncommon sight to see people picking up the pace and even breaking into a job in order to get to the source of that trippy, out of this world sound. Not a soul was standing by the time “Puzzle Pieces” came on and the infectious sound spread across the park.
The lawn in front of Samsung was fittingly packed with colorful umbrellas, chairs, and blankets that matched the vibrant array of characters that watched City And Colour perform. The backdrop of the downtown Austin skyline and the hazy clouds above made the setting feel almost surreal, but added to the laid-back sound. LL Cool J attracted a similarly diverse crowd, while watching Catfish and the Bottlemen was watching both a great performance as well as watching the hearts of teens stolen right from under their parents’ noses.
Pint- sized Melanie Martinez was every bit the living doll as she teetered across the stage confidently in platforms that might be illegal throughout her theatrical performance. She may be teeny tiny, but damn, that voice is pure power. AlunaGeorge also straight killed it at HomeAway and did not let down the pack that had chosen to camp out since the end of DJ Mustard. Spoiler alert: balloon animal fights can be highly entertaining when phone battery must be preserved. The Naked And Famous reunited so effortlessly that you would have had to wonder how many snapchats went out about all the feels only to be followed by a rainbow making its way of Zilker. The Insta- structures constructed for the perfect photo backdrops (the ACl frame, the giant pick hashtag etc.) were momentarily ignored in favor of the stunning sky as the second evening of ACL rolled in.
The crowd seemed to split down the middle for Cage the Elephant then Two Door Cinema Club, and ScHoolboy Q before the Chainsmokers. However, some of the pre-determination from the pre-Aluna camp returned as many opted to guard their precious patches of grass until Drew and Alex arrived. (#)So. Many. Selfies.
Kygo’s crowd may have largely been dominated by Millennials, but he threw in some good throwbacks like “You Can Call Me Al” and “Black Betty” in with the tropical house favorites. The jury is still out on whether most of his audience thought those were his new originals or not. Conrad Sewell came out for “Firestone”, as the stage twinkled and ignited before fireworks literally ended the show with a bang.
The air was thick with people sharing stories of how they were wowed and hooked after seeing Kendrick Lamar make his ACL debut three years ago and the anticipation was apparent all day. Lamar mixed the old with the new so effortlessly it’s easy to see why he has received so much praise and support from artists who have become almost like living legends. In a world where it seems festival headliners are either the classic oldies or an EDM sensation, Kendrick stood out as a Saturday night headliner, but labeling him as just a hip hop artist does not seem to bestow enough credit or accurately describe he creates.
The perfect weather returned on Sunday, but if anyone had been slightly dragging, Lizzo’s early performance was sure to fix any case of the lazies. The new diva gave off very strong Queen Bey-like Vibes. The next second she was rapping with the confidence of Nicki. The next second you were realizing that comparing her is pointless, because she a powerhouse all in her own right.
Domo Genesis brought his own OddFuture sound that was just mellow enough to carry over perfectly into the reggaeton mix at Chronnixx & Zincfence Redemption. Unfortunately, a time machine and/or a way to teleport was the only way to get the best of Local Natives, Nathaniel Rateliffe, and Quaker City Night Hawks but Snapchats and Instagram Stories provided plenty of post-festival entertainment.
The crowds arrived for Oh Wonder early, and were nothing short of delighted to see Josephine and Anthony even though they assured the crowd they would play the same stuff because they only have one album. Bob Moses kept it cool amidst losing their luggage and adding a drummer (not named Bob or Moses) to the Tom and Jimmy show. Miike Snow drew crowd that devotedly followed Andrew Wyatt’s every move across the stage, to the keyboard, and back again. His focus was so apparent, his stare almost as fixed as Guetta at Tomorrowland.
Young the Giant really livened up the crowd, getting the fuel going to ignite anticipation of their upcoming tour . HAIM went wild for their crowd at HomeAway who reciprocated the energy while also trying to spot certain famous #squad members. Porter Robinson and Madeon came together to provide a set that was magical, yet probably capable of producing a fair amount of seizures if the lights had gone on any longer. No doubt there was fair amount of stumbling out the park for the school night crowd who hadn’t slipped on some sunglasses.
Despite the enormous crowd after a long weekend, LCD Soundsystem was still incredible even from a blanket in the back with a cold beer and good friends. Mumford & Sons ended the night with their tribe-like following letting loose as their most anticipated must-see of the weekend sealed the deal as the ultimate ACL 2016 highlight.
Click below for the full photo gallery!