ACL Fest: Love reigns supreme at Raury’s early afternoon set

It’s very possible no one in the crowd of several hundred who gathered for Raury’s 1 p.m. set was really looking to change their life. The top discussion topic among the twenty-somethings who pressed up to the guardrail before he took the stage was best strategies for sneaking elicit substances into the fest.

Austin, TX - Raury fans raise their hands during his set on the Homeaway Stage on day one of ACL Music Festiival on September 30, 2016. Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman.

Austin, TX – Raury fans raise their hands during his set on the Homeaway Stage on day one of ACL Music Festiival on September 30, 2016. Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman.

But no one told the 20-year-old Atlanta rapper that.

From the moment he took the stage, bowing his head to the audience with prayer hands as body-shaking bass blasted from the speakers, he carried himself with the energy of young man on a mission.

“Are you ready to step into my world?” he asked the audience, adding,”you can trust me,” as a note of reassurance.

Raury plays the HomeAway stage at ACL Fest weekend on Friday September 30, 2016.  Dave Creaney/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Raury plays the HomeAway stage at ACL Fest weekend on Friday September 30, 2016. Dave Creaney/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

From there it was a 60-minute blitz-kreig of syrupy Southern singing, rapid-fire righteous rap and occasional wistful guitar strumming. all delivered with the wide-eyed idealism of an artist who has, as yet, refused to succumb to cynicism.

“I want everyone to turn to person next to you and give them a hug or a high five,” he said, a few songs in, reminding us that the real point of coming together at a music festival was the union of spirits that comes from all of us being together as one.

Raury’s music is all over the place, a blend of pop, soul, singer-songwriter earnestness and rap. Some songs landed better than others. The ghetto cautionary tale “Trap Tears” was a hit, while the post-hippie strumming on “Peace Prevail” seemed to wash over the crowd with minimal ecstatic response.

But when he took out the set the only way he could, with an explosive rendition of “Devil’s Whisper,” it was clear this young man, just starting his musical journey, is rich with potential.

And in these troubled times, his unabashed idealism was enough to offer all of us a little faith in the idea that maybe, just maybe, love can still win.

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