Noah Cyrus is here to sing popular music for you now

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There are many Cyruses in the world.

There is Billy Ray Cyrus, the Cyrus Prime, Acher of Breaky Hearts, Businessman of the Front and Partier of the Back.

There is Miley Ray Cyrus, the Cyrus That Was Promised, goddaughter of Dolly Parton and owner of one of the 20th century’s most fascinating celebrity stories. She’s been a megawatt child star, a fascinating pop culture provocateur, a welcome odd-duck vocalist in our musical canon, a friend of Bill Murray and a pretty dang good “Saturday Night Live” host.

There is Cyrus the Great, an ancient Persian ruler.

There is Trace Cyrus, who has tattoos and a MySpace account.

And then there is Noah Cyrus, an 18-year-old pop upstart who came to South by Southwest with the kind of name recognition that makes you go “Oh, maybe I should check that out.” So, I checked that out for a few songs at a very-late-and-running-later showcase at Empire Garage.

Noah Cyrus performs at Empire Garage during SXSW, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Known until recently for child acting roles, Cyrus has released a string of buzzy singles leading up to a debut album expected this year, and she’s also opened up for Katy Perry on tour. (That puts her in the fine company of pop artists like Robyn and Carly Rae Jepsen, for those seeking candy-coated context.) Cyrus’s trend-channeling pop is for parties and playlists and product placements. Songs like “Again” and “We Are…” are tight and glossy, sewing swatches of hip-hop and EDM sound into the canvas liberally, because that’s what the kids want, probably.

PHOTOS: Noah Cyrus at Empire Control Room during SXSW 2018

Played to the SXSW stage with enough bombastic guitar to soundtrack a montage from “Point Break,” Cyrus emerged at Empire Garage with a game face and a Bebe Neuwirth ‘do. She instantly played her own hype-woman, gamely working up the bleary-eyed crowd for “Nothing Lasts Forever.” In between sprints of rap-singing (it’s a family affair), Cyrus intoned “Wouldn’t it be nice to stay together for the night?” on the chorus. One of those naughty schoolyard chants about drinking and carousing, the kind of song you’ve heard on the radio and in mayonnaise commercials.

RELATED: Japandroids at SXSW 2018: like riding a chrome-plated pterodactyl into hell

By the time we got to “My Way,” a turn-up that surprisingly doesn’t mention “Ibiza” even once, I noticed Cyrus’ calibrated efficiency as a stage performer. The choreographer’s flowchart was right there in plain sight, each movement across the space a tick on a checkbox. Up on the speaker. To the lip of the stage. Back to the mic stand. The singer’s face was tabula rasa from point to point, from note to note.

Noah Cyrus performs at Empire Garage during SXSW, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

You’re supposed to do a cover at a festival these days, so Cyrus furnished “Feel It Still,” Alaska indie band Portugal. The Man’s big pop crossover success story. Cyrus’ vocals sounded technically superb — perhaps the strongest of her musical family — coming out of the sound system unblemished by little things like grit or breath or a sense of place. In between songs, Cyrus pitched hurried banter about being stubborn and about people being drunk. You love being drunk, remember?

Noah Cyrus, slick like the bumper for an MTV reality show set on one of America’s many scenic beaches, undeniably has the right stuff. She’s using that stuff to make capital-P Popular Music. Or at least, populist music.


Japandroids at SXSW 2018: like riding a chrome-plated pterodactyl into hell

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In the immortal words of Canadian rock two-piece Japandroids: “WHOA OH OH OH OH OH OH OH.”

Sorry, I have to collect myself, for I have become verklempt. And I ain’t being sarcastic.

Punk bros Brian King and David Prowse flew into their Wednesday night South By Southwest showcase at Lustre Pearl like bats out of hell, ready to spew adrenaline from their full-throated screams, guitar power that shredded the cartilage around your ear and drum thunder that could throw you down Rainey Street into an entirely different bar. And on those screams: King sounded a little more like he was gargling gravel then you might expect from the band’s records, but power comes at a great cost sometimes.

Two key facts to help curate your mental picture of this set:

  1. King took the stage looking like he was already drenched in sweat.
  2. A fight broke out at the front of the crowd on the second song.

Japandroids’ SXSW show (their first concert of the year, King said) was an experience worth checking your sense of self at the door and submitting to the band’s symphony of turbo-charged sloganeering. Do not mistake lines like “Remember when we had them all on the run/And the night we saw midnight sun” for cheese. Such lyrics are brimstone plucked straight from Satan’s hearth; they are features, not bugs, of the most cathartic part of your night.

Let’s illustrate:

  • Seeing Japandroids live is like entering a wrestling ring in full spandex, and then “Macho Man” Randy Savage bodyslams you and yells “NOW YOU GOT ME ALL FIRED UP” in your ear.
  • Seeing Japandroids live is like watching a new industrial revolution be born in front of your eyes, with two well-oiled machines working overtime to chant “My love’s bigger than your love” enough that the song replaces coal as a power source.
  • Seeing Japandroids live is like riding a chrome-plated pterodactyl into hell and plowing down a skeleton army, but every skeleton is wearing a sign around its neck labeled with one of your deepest insecurities, and the pterodactyl’s sound system (go with it) blasts the words “hearts from hell collide on fire’s highway tonight” while obliterate those bone monsters with a bullwhip.
  • Seeing Japandroids live reminds you to put “North East South West” and “Younger Us” on the playlist for your summer roadtrip to Asgard. Don’t forget to pack salty snacks!
  • Seeing Japandroids live is like going to the nightly cabaret show on a cruise ship made of wrought iron and powered by gasoline, and Gilgamesh is the cruise director and he’s leading a singalong, and you wait to go get more cocktail shrimp at the buffet until the song gets to the part of the song that goes “We yell like hell to the heavens.” It’s kind of like your version of “Sweet Caroline.”

When I say that seeing Japandroids create their melodic punk alchemy on stage is an emotional experience, please realize that I realize it sounds laughable. Their lyrics are Springsteen on MDMA — consciously blue collar, sometimes cartoonish and unrelentingly surreal. But seeing those two guys, completely consumed in the moment, conjure such grand thrash-theater with just two instruments and vocals that indicate a future need for lozenges? To that, I only say “WHOA OH OH OH OH OH OH OH.”


SXSW 2018: Shamir is so over straight boys and bad friends

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Shamir Bailey’s giggle is so infectious, so fully surprising when it slips out of him, that you almost forget just how many things he seems over.

The Las Vegas singer — shredding, squeaking, soaring and stoic at any given point of a South by Southwest showcase at Sidewinder on Tuesday — is over people who have done him wrong. That’s why “You Have a Song” is about someone he hates that he didn’t want to feel special. Carly Simon for the queer kids: “You have a song/Which means you’re doing something wrong.”

RELATED A-LIST PHOTOS: Superchunk, Shamir, Bully, Wye Oak at Mohawk for SXSW 2018

Shamir is over straight boys: The song “Straight Boy” (natch) is about “how we don’t trust them.” You see, it’s partially because “being true is not their thing/Oh, it eats them up internally/Then they take it out on people like me all the time.”

And yeah, Shamir is over those friends that probably aren’t good people, too. The ones you don’t bring around your good friends, he clarified through the song “Easier.”

Shamir performs at the Mohawk in Austin, Texas during SXSW on March 12, 2018.

After first album “Ratchet,” a disco-flavored bop, last year’s “Revelations” took a more indie rock route. Wielding a glittery gold guitar and backed by a bassist and a drummer, Shamir caught a Ramones-style punk wind and let it carry him away at SXSW. He locked dead stares out into the crowd and sang through pained smiles. The singer’s “Very Black” pin, affixed to a truly rad Velvet Underground denim jacket, paired wonderfully with the signature golden butterfly perched in his hair. No note was off limits.

MORE SXSW: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is an artist to watch

Late in the set, someone screamed out that they loved Shamir. The singer started to return the affection, but stopped short to see who had said it. Once seeing who it was, Shamir followed through, explaining that love was a sentiment he wasn’t going to pass out to just anyone.

SXSW artist to watch: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya

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When we talk about Nnamdi Ogbonnaya one day, I hope that we get to say “I saw him in a tiny room at South by Southwest one time.”

The Chicago rapper pulled faces and confounded genre inside Sidewinder for a late-night showcase that, considering the less-than-massive crowd in the less-than-massive space, felt like a special secret. Ogbonnaya and his band gave the crowd hip-hop, jazz, absolutely shredded garage rock and even an emo moment. Also: air horns.

“Chaka Khan followed me on Instagram today!” Ogbonnaya proudly exclaimed about what he called the greatest day of his life. The announcement was followed by the “pew-pew-pew-peeeeewww” that you’re used to hearing at a Fader Fort rap collective gig. Sidewinder could use more airhorns all the time, honestly.

Ogbonnaya’s barely contained madcap electricity charmed endlessly. “Don’t Turn Me Off” best summed up the artist’s talents: soft-spoken but agile flow; high-octane rock chops that made you either back away from the speakers or crowd closer to them; and an ever-percolating face that changed expressions on beat.  Later on, “Honey on the Low” pulsed with cool charisma and shoulder shakes. “MMMM MMMM MMM(i’m finninin((dookielipz))),” a song by Nnamdi’ Super Secret Side Project that I will not attempt to format in this publication’s house style, unleashed Ogbonnaya from his post, its gross-out lyrics propelling him into the audience and inspiring some a mic-dangling rockstar stunt.


Worth appreciating at 1 a.m.: the sensitive side of Ogbonnaya. No drippy Drake R&B here. Early in the set, Ogbonnaya took a moment to transform into a quiet-voiced marvel, repeating “I am deceptively strong” in a small voice while his searching eyes tip-toed across the room. On “Me 4 Me,” the artist confessed “I want someone who will love me for me, not the person that you think I ought to be,” a low-key heartbreaker that cut straight to the quick. And a yearning and math-rock-y “Should Have Known,” toward the end of the set honestly wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a mixtape with Minus the Bear and TTNG.

But “Let Go of My Ego,” which Fader called the “catchiest song of 2017 you still haven’t heard yet,” sealed the deal on the Nnamdi Ogbonnaya that you could see taking over the world. With a playful sound D.R.A.M. wishes he thought of, a wit that Danny Brown would admire and a willingness to turn the party that Andrew W.K. would proudly nod at, Ogbonnaya showed star power that’s way bigger than the inside of that tiny club.


Gemma Ray played her guitar with a knife at SXSW. That sums it up, yeah?

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Let’s call it desperado pop: Music you play with a knife stuck to the front of your guitar.

One second you’re in an Episcopal church in downtown Austin with Gemma Ray, and the next you’re glaring suspiciously at the next booth over in a last-chance diner. Or, maybe you’re on the bone-dry highway somewhere between here and El Paso, with a grudge sitting in your passenger seat and a sidearm sitting in your glove box. Heck, you could also be in the midst of a gin-soaked tryst between a Brylcreemed man in a slim-fit suit and a woman with Jackie O hair and Maybelline-streaked cheeks.

(Photo by Eric Webb/American-Statesman)

That’s what Germany-based “pop-noir heroine” Ray does to your mind, if you have an active imagination. Playing a South by Southwest showcase Tuesday at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary, Ray overcame some fritzy sound woes to deliver a transporting performance worthy of the coming dusk outside the church’s historic walls.

With a voice that sounded less like a wound and more like a particularly clean scar, Ray sang about anxiety and hoping there’s something “more than this.” Her guitar work stalked through the space with high noon theatricality. All woozy twang and insistent rhythm, it’s the kind of music that makes you pretty sure you’re going to have to go defend your dead loved one’s honor in some gulch. Even when that faulty sound ended a song with an unintentional sizzle, it added a little industrial edge that didn’t seem at all out of place.

Though it likely owed something to a shared space on the 1960s-influenced spectrum, Ray’s dangerous shadow-rock brought to mind the flip-side of the same coin that First Aid Kit’s sundress folk lives on. In the last third of her set, Ray descended into a jam session, a mad Watusi with the devil, before taking the knife out and running it up and down and back and forth on her strings. Her frenzy ended in a smile.

What, you thought the knife was a metaphor?


SXSW 2018: Get your sneak peek inside Fader Fort and check out the lineup

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Fader Fort, that most beloved of side venues that calls Austin home during South by Southwest, opens up on Wednesday. Just like last year, it’s a guest-list-only event, with invitations sent by email. If you didn’t get your golden ticket (or you did and you’re impatient), we got a sneak peek on Tuesday inside the Fort’s new home on East Seventh Street.

There is, of course, that black-and-white stage you’ve come to know and respect.

(Eric Webb photos/American-Statesman)

There is also the “Jack Daniel’s Salon Barbershop,” featuring local guest barbers and a complimentary “Jack-inspired hairstyling or cut.” There’s a wheel you can spin, too, to help make that tough decision a little easier/more rock ‘n’ roll.

As promised, there will also be paddle-powered fun from Spin, a ping pong social club with locations across the country, including one opening in Austin later this spring at 213 W. 5th St.

There will also be an activation from New Balance celebrating the “iconic New Balance 574 sneaker and its original grey colorway.” And drinks. Don’t forget the drinks.

Here’s Fader Fort’s 2018 lineup. Performance times will be announced each day, and so will “special guests.” If there’s one thing Fader Fort has traditionally loved, it’s “special guests.”

Wednesday March 14
Knox Fortune
Billie Eilish
Speedy Ortiz

DJ sets by:
DJ Sober
Kitty Cash

Thursday, March 15
Molly Brazy
G Perico
Snail Mail
YBN Nahmir
Soccer Mommy
Bun B

DJ sets by:
Sonny Digital

Friday, March 16
Mimicking Birds
Courtney Marie Andrews
Now, Now
Pale Waves
BlocBoy JB

DJ sets by:
Angel + Dren
Osh Kosh
OG Ron C


We stayed in bed all night, on stage, for SXSW’s 8-hour concert

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I slept with a lot of people Monday night.

Every year, I moan about how I stay out all night during South by Southwest, covering shows that end at 2 a.m. and writing reviews until 4 a.m. But as it turns out, I have been a dirty, rotten liar these past few years. The North American premiere of composer Max Richter’s Guinness World Record-setting “Sleep” promised literally what I’ve been talking about figuratively — an all-nighter.

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The premise of the festival’s opening night concert, which should join the annals of SXSW stunt fame next to that infamous giant Doritos machine from which Lady Gaga emerged in 2014:

  1. Go to Bass Concert Hall.
  2. Get into one of the Beautyrest beds that has been arranged onstage around a performance platform.
  3. Sleep, or meditate, or do whatever brand of existence suits you while gorgeous, ambient-leaning music is performed for 8 hours straight, all for your pillow-bound benefit.

See more photos from Max Richter’s 8-hour “Sleep”

For some reason, I was very excited to go to an 8-hour, overnight concert. I think it was the bed that sealed it.

When I queued up outside Bass, SXSW staff made their way down the line to make sure everyone knew what they were getting into. Two people near me in line, in fact, did not know what they were getting into. Others were so aware of the conceit of “Sleep” that they showed up in onesie pajamas.

When I entered the concert hall, I was surprised to see that 150 beds were actually lined up around the same stage on which I’ve seen more than a few Broadway musicals. Shell-shaped white lights, not yet illuminated, surrounded the perimeter of the performance platform in the middle, with an 8 a.m. wake-up call displayed on their face. Sounds of street traffic, the kind that have put me to sleep when I’ve slept on my friends’ couch in Brooklyn, floated through the space.

“The piece really has no rules,” Richter said, as part of brief remarks before the show began.

A shirtless pillow fight had erupted on the other side of the stage a bit before this. Richter, whose work has appeared in “The Leftovers” and “Black Mirror,” knows what’s up.

MORE FROM SXSW: Find things to do in our SXSW Side Party Guide

I wanted to stay up all night and document my descent into madness, hour by hour. Would I still be able to feel my extremities at 2 a.m.? Would I have gone full Christian-Bale-in-“The Machinist” by 3 a.m.? Would it be distracting when I unwrapped a protein bar at 4 a.m.?

Richter had other plans for my REM cycle, however.

“Here comes ‘Sleep,'” he said, “and we’ll see you on the other side.”

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12:13 a.m.: As the show began, Richter’s fingers danced across the piano keys in a melancholy 1-2 step, the peace punctured every six notes by a cascading pulse of bass. The pink lights hanging from the rafters dried out my eyes and my lips the longer I sat on my bed. I did not anticipate feeling like a rotisserie chicken for this experience.

12:22 a.m.: Most people who started out sitting realized they were in beds and either laid down or reclined. Strings began to swell and gently race. Those hot pink lights began to dim. I might have skin after all this is over, I thought. The first person began to snore. Weak, man.

12:42 a.m.: You know that thing where you can’t sleep, and you look at the clock thinking it’s been at least two hours, and you realize that it’s only been a few minutes since you last looked? Very that. I put my head on my pillow, since it’s hard to sit up straight in a bed for 30 minutes. I heard my second snorer.

12:52 a.m.: A lady began singing. I am watching a lot of “Teen Wolf” lately, so I knew she was a banshee and death was imminent. I hoped it came for the shirtless pillow fighters first.

MORE FROM SXSW: So many bands! Our music team makes some SXSW recommendations

2:35 a.m.: No.

Richter had ensorcelled me into slumber with his ambient soundscapes and lush string arrangements. Waking up from some kind of dream that I immediately could not remember, I saw that almost everyone around me had fallen prey to the same fate. Richter was alone on his laptops, and the sound in the room had fully transitioned into a surreal, otherworldly plane. I pledged to stay awake.

4:24 a.m.: Dang it all to heck.

4:53 a.m.: I thought to myself, in a note on my phone that later looked much more incoherent than it seemed when I wrote it, that this experience felt like the movie “Flatliners.” That made sense at the time, when I was in a colony of bed-drones.

6:10 a.m.: Every time I drifted to sleep and fell back into consciousness, I was slightly disturbed that I could not remember my dreams. I did realize, however, that trying to stay awake was never really the point of “Sleep.” It’s designed to relax, to lull, to carry you across the divide between waking and slumber like the mythical ferryman Charon, shepherding souls down across the River Styx. I had read a critic call the movie “Annihilation” a “spiritual prompt.” In my half-lucid haze, this seems to better fit the bill. I also think a lot about Greek mythology and Natalie Portman movies when I’m delirious?

MORE FROM SXSW: The many faces of Tiffany Haddish on the red carpet at SXSW

7:14 a.m.: I woke up, this time for keeps. Richter’s graceful, methodical piano march had circled back to its starting point in the last hour, alongside that clockwork bass. The ambient tones against which I’d struggled to keep my head above water, the string quintet that had enchanted me out of my waking mind like five Pied Pipers: It was all a tide you really couldn’t beat back. And perhaps you shouldn’t have tried.

I noticed more snoring than there was the first hour. One man was meditating. I clocked a few empty beds.

8 a.m.: Those shell-shaped lights had come on, and the woman with the haunting voice was back. By 8:13 a.m., the performance came to an end, and as if it was planned — maybe it was — someone’s iPhone alarm chirped. Everyone sat in dead silence until Richter turned around from his piano bench to a standing ovation. We clapped the performers all the way out the door.

I thought I would feel like hammered garbage after an all-night concert. When I walked out into the chilly daylight on the University of Texas campus, I felt calm and rested. More so than normal, in fact. Now, how am I gonna get Max Richter to come to my studio apartment every night?

Broods’ pretty shadows swallowed in noise, but ACL Fest ate it all up

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Georgia Nott didn’t seem like she could believe the crowd she and her brother, Caleb, pulled Sunday at Austin City Limits Music Festival.

“This is the earliest set we’ve played this summer and it’s the biggest crowd,” the Broods singer said with visible excitement early in the set.

It might not be wholly accurate to call Broods a breakout in their second ACL Fest appearance, because the dark-pop sibling project obviously has a wide extended fan family. If you didn’t know, now you do.

Georgia Nott (left) and Caleb Nott of Broods performs at the Miller Lite Stage during weekend two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. TINA PHAN / FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

PHOTOS: Sunday at ACL Fest 2017 Weekend 2

When the vibe’s that good, it felt weird to find flaws in the New Zealand artists’ Goulding-esque party. Regardless, the delicate alchemy of Georgia’s gleaming, lilting voice and Caleb’s thunderous beats didn’t quite make 24-karat gold Sunday afternoon. All-enveloping songs like “We Had Everything,” which sweep you away in their drama on the recording, swam against a noise whirlpool live.

Georgia’s vocals, while passionately delivering on pretty lyrical moonglow like “Dancing at night, you’re the light that I won’t let go,” couldn’t quite slice all the way through overpowering backing track and distortion, despite an earnest showing. The percussive showpieces and warehouse-party synth washes from Caleb and the band sparked a bouncey castle in front of the Miller Lite stage, but the unrelenting hour cried out for a more intimate, stripped-down rest stop, especially on “Mother & Father.” Toward the end of the set, “Free” opened a small airhole for Georgia to breathe and show her pipes without burden. It was like a brief peek at autumn light from behind heavy velvet drapes.

You can’t critique ecstasy, though. Broods received a rapturous response when Georgia asked who was already familiar with the band. She genuinely thanked the people who stumbled in, and she gave the band and the crew heartfelt praise, too. Georgia dedicated the anthemic “Bridges” to all the Broods fans out there. The band certainly didn’t burn any of their own bridges at the fest. 


Someone at ACL Fest took Tove Lo’s ring, and she’d like it back

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Swedish pop provocateur Tove Lo performed a sweaty, electrifying set Saturday night at Austin City Limits Music Festival — and it was just as racy as her first-weekend show. The “Cool Girl” singer, decked out in mirror-trimmed track pants, hit the notes her fans have come to expect: performing in front of a vagina illustration, grabbing her crotch, throwing a first-class dance party and flashing the audience on “Talking Body.”

Let’s also take a minute to note that Flea and Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers both shed their shirts just an hour later on the American Express stage and are probably less recognizable with shirts than without. Tove Lo’s on to something when she talks about double standards for men and women. The singer also removed her top altogether at the end of closer “Habits (Stay High)” and flung the garment out into the crowd while still performing. (A not-safe-for-work clip is here, if you weren’t at the Barton Springs stage.)

Tove Lo performs during the second weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Someone in audience ended with another of Tove Lo’s belongings at the end of the night, and it’s not one she meant to give up. According to the singer on Twitter after the set, a member of the crowd took a family heirloom, and she would like it back.

“And you in the crowd who pulled my blue ring off my finger – it was my grandmothers and would mean the world to me if I can get it back,” Tove Lo tweeted a little more than half an hour after she left the stage at Zilker Park.

Fans slid into the singer’s mentions to express their sympathies and, in some cases, try to solve the mystery.

Here’s hoping the only thing Tove Lo ends up leaving in Austin is her heart. For what it’s worth, ACL Fest has a pretty helpful lost-and-found portal online.


Here’s how to make your own flower crown at ACL Fest

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Sometimes you forget to bring the essentials from home. At Austin City Limits Music Festival, that could mean clutching your head and thinking, “I wish I had brought my flower crown.

Lauren Beck, a friend of Craft owner Eli Winkelman, volunteers at the flower crown tent at Austin City Limits Music Festival on Friday, Oct. 14, 2017. (Eric Webb photos/American-Statesman)

PHOTOS: Friday at ACL Fest Weekend 2

If that’s you, you’re in luck. Craft, which owner Eli Winkelman describes as a “walk-in buffet of arts and crafts for adults,” has partnered with ACL Fest for the first time to bring a DIY flower crown table to Zilker Park. Under a white tent in the Art Market, passersby will find a long table covered in fake flowers and greenery, piled high and ready to be assembled into chic headgear.

“We have a whole special technique that we’re sharing with our guests,” Winkelman said of the “rugged” crowns. “They can handle a festival or two.”

Simone Otenaike, left, and Maureen Ochola model their flower crown creations.

Fake flowers are used because they’re easier to work with and provide more variety, Winkelman said. Making a crown at the booth costs $22.

How did East Cesar Chavez Street-based Craft end up helping festival attendees glam up their looks with floral accessories? ACL Fest reached out to the business, Winkelman said, in what she thinks was an effort to bring more interactivity to the festival.

But say flower crowns aren’t your thing. No worries. Craft also offers tie-dyeing and hand-painting activities. Considering the heat, painting your own parasol or fan might be more up your alley. At the front of the tent is a drying rack full of tie-dyed garments (including underwear, which some confused patrons have thought were dirty, Winkelman said). The dye is solar-activated, Winkelman said, so its colors don’t pop until they’ve been left out in the sun for a bit.

Tie-dyed garments in front of the Craft tent at ACL Fest.

Craft’s visitors can also paint postcards using a pre-designed template — printed light enough that it looks freehand when painted — and write their own messages on the back. Winkelman’s team retrieves the postcards from a little white mailbox at the front of the tent and takes care of mailing them off.

“Who does that anymore? Who writes a letter?” Winkelman said of the joy she takes in seeing festgoers compose messages to family and friends.

Eli Winkelman sorts through hand-painted postcards at the Craft tent at ACL Fest.

When they hear “artist” in reference to ACL, most people think of music acts like Jay-Z and Chance the Rapper. In one quiet part of the park (except for the boom of the American Express stage yards away), that word is free to mean just about anything.

“We had person who came back to us because he was really hot, he was wearing black pants, and he wanted our help converting his pants into shorts,” Winkelman said. “It’s out of our normal offering at the festival, but we’re glad someone sees us as a creative resource.”