Clouds, cooler temperatures bring relief on final day of ACL Fest

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A cold front brought cloudy skies, cool winds and temperatures in the 70s to the final day of Austin City Limits Music Festival on Sunday, bringing some much-needed relief to the sunburned and sweaty weekend denizens of Zilker Park.

Festival-goers dash towards stages as the gates open Sunday morning on the last day of weekend two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 15, 2017. TINA PHAN / FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Don’t neglect the sunscreen, though — these clouds will give way to sunshine in the afternoon, but temperatures are expected to top out at just 75 degrees, a welcome change to the 80- and 90-degree temperatures of the previous two days.

The scene shortly after gates opened on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 at Austin City Limits Music Festival. Katey Psencik / American-Statesman

Here’s what you can expect Sunday: A magical set from Tank and the Bangas kicking off this easy Sunday morning, a feel-good set from D.R.A.M., the sweet, soulful Swedish sounds of First Aid Kit, the indie-pop-folk greatness of The Head and the Heart, an adventure with Gorillaz and a yes-we-know-you-want-to-hear-Mr.-Brightside singalong with The Killers. See the rest of our music picks for a full rundown on which stages you should mosey your way toward on Sunday.

At noon Sunday, music writer Deborah Sengupta Stith will be moderating a live stream on the Austin360 Facebook page, with two of the Austin360 music team’s contributors debating the age-old question: Is rap duo Run the Jewels overrated? You won’t want to miss it.



We hung out with Dreamers at ACL Fest and talked about ‘Rick and Morty’

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A “Rick and Morty” concept album from New York rock band Dreamers? Never say never.

Dreamers (Marc Nelson, top left, Jacob Wick, below, and Nick Wold) at Austin City Limits on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2017. (Erika Rich/For American-Statesman)

It’ll probably be never. But the “Sweet Disaster” artists, who played the BMI stage at Austin City Limits Music Festival on Saturday, are fans of the Adult Swim show. Lead singer and guitarist Nick Wold gave a fan’s Mr. Poopybutthole flag — it’s a character from the show, don’t worry about it — a shoutout from the stage. We caught up with the band on Facebook Live after their set to talk “Rick and Morty,” Ice Cube and singing about the darker things in life.

Austin360: You did an interview during Meadows Fest and you said you like playing in Austin. 

Nick Wold: I was just buttering you up for this interview. It’s not really true. No, we’ve always loved Austin. It’s one of the best music cities.

Jacob Wick, drummer: I’ve been drunk here. I’ve thrown up in your trash cans. I’ve rolled around in your dirt. I’ve been very sick here before. These all sound like negative things, but I had a great time the whole time I was doing all these things. Love it here. Love the food. Love the people.

NW: It’s the blue center in the big red state.

JW: The oasis.

Marc Nelson, bassist: It’s like a Gobstopper.

Austin360: Speaking of coming to Austin, I saw that y’all tweeted you were on a plane with Ice Cube.

NW: It’s true. We don’t make this s— up.

JW: We had a very different experience than him. He was in first class. We were —

NW: We were in the very last row in the very back.

JW: Basically in the bathroom. Every 10 minutes there was this horrible smell.

NW: A septic smell coming out of the bathroom.

JW: I almost threw up the last hour of the flight.

NW: I’ll bet Cube didn’t have that up in the front.

The bad Dreamers at ACL Fest on Oct. 15, 2017. From left: bassist Marc Nelso, singer/guitarist Nick Wold, drummer Jacob Wick. (Erika Rich/For American-Statesman)

Austin360: A lot of y’all’s lyrics, you’re not afraid to skirt some of the darker things in life, one might say. But musically, you keep things kind of light. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re trying to communicate through y’all’s music?

NW: I think music and all art should cover every topic and never hold back. I always loved music that just told it like it was and went after things that sometimes people don’t like to talk about. … I’m like the guy who’s at the party who likes to have a deep conversation but finds it fun, and some people are like, “Ah, this sucks.” But I like that. I think that music can be like that. It can be fun and it can be about the deepest things in the world. Like the Beatles talking about the universe and the answer to all your problems. All you need is love.

Austin360: Speaking of the universe, there was a “Rick and Morty” Mr. Poopybutthole flag at the set. Do y’all have a favorite “Rick and Morty” episode, character, scene?

JW: I’m so horrible with favorites. The only favorite I have is ice cream and it’s mint chip. I mean, other than that, I can’t pick one.

NW: “Rick and Morty” is one of our favorite shows.

JW: That show is my favorite. I think that’s what I can say. That show is my favorite above most and all shows.

MN: What’s the one with the brain organism that makes false memories? That was good.

NW: It’s a parasite that makes memories of you living with it your whole life.

JW: Which is where Mr. Poopybutthole was introduced.

MN: That’s a good one.

NW: I already love sci-fi, and that show, just every moment of it, I can’t believe how much I love this. It’s exactly my kind of show, and it’s genius.

Austin360: So you’re saying we could have a “Rick and Morty” concept album from Dreamers.

NW: You never know.

JW: If we get high enough, yeah.

NW: A hit single called “Mr. Meeseeks.”

JW: The single’s “Hey, look at me.”

Dreamers is set to play Emo’s in November and will be back here “probably 1,000 times, until we’re dead, and that’s the only time we’ll stop,” according to Wold. Watch our Facebook Live interview with band:


Run the Jewels light ‘ACL’ on fire ‘like Willie Nelson would light a (expletive) joint’

“El-P and Mike are going to make some effort to ‘clean up’ some of the lyrics in their raps,” “Austin City Limits” executive producer, Terry Lickona said via email Saturday when we reached out before the rap duo’s taping to find out how exactly producers of the iconic Austin TV show planned to edit the least PBS-friendly group in history.

Scott Newton/Courtesy of KLRU-TV


But let’s be honest, cleaned up is not how RTJ rolls.

“We’re going to light this (expletive) on fire like Willie Nelson would light a joint,” Killer Mike said at the top of the set, after he and his partner in rhyme entered the way they always do, to the chorus of Queen’s underdog anthem “We Are the Champions.”

Then the duo launched into a ballistic rendition of “Talk To Me” off their 2016 album “Run the Jewels 3.”From there it was into the grinder. El-P and Mike spit furious rhymes to the relentless pulse of menacing bass and drums, blasting through “Legend Has It” and “Ticketron” before pausing to breathe. They’re only the third hip-hop act ever featured on the the show, but, they boasted, “the first real rap show,” with nothing on stage but two emcees and a DJ.

Run the Jewels, however, doesn’t have a traditional hip-hop sound. With vicious machine gun flows, they make mosh pit rap for the Warped Tour generation. Their shows pass in a flurry of aggro-rhymes spat over turbulent, pounding beats. In many ways, they’re the most fascinating phenomenon in modern music: a pair of 40-something indie rap lifers who just as easily could have ended up making an “Odd Couple”-style YouTube buddy comedy, but instead inspire thrashing masses of humanity to chant “R-T-J” at the top of their lungs while rocking imaginary “36” Chains.”

They know it’s a fluke that it panned out this way, and the love they expressed to the crowd multiple times throughout the night was genuine. At one point El-P shouted out a older couple in the crowd. He said he was watching backstage through the monitor while the pair, who looked like traditional PBS supporters, arrived early and took their seats in the in the front row.  He said he kept thinking, “I hope they like us.” Turns out it’s easy to get swept up in a RTJ show and even the senior citizens seemed to be having a good time.

Scott Newton/Courtesy of KLRU-TV

The obvious knock against RTJ is that there are very few levels in their shows. They go hard non-stop, and it’s a visceral rush, but it can get monotonous. While some songs have distinctive sonic flourishes, like the cascading guitar line in the beginning of “Nobody Speaks,” many bleed into each other indistinguishably.  Their die-hard fans don’t care, though, and the floor section of the club, was jam packed and as rowdy as its ever been through the whole show. The vast majority of the crowd in floor seats never sat down.

At the end they mixed it up, bringing out singer Boots to do his part on “2100,” and Dungeon Family queenpin Joi to close out the set, singing her hook on “Down.” The latter song is the lead track on “RTJ3” and Joi’s syrupy Southern soul makes it stand out from the rest of their catalog. Mike, who intro-ed the track by reminding the audience to look out for each other and help the downtrodden in our community, said it was a song to lift you when you’re feeling down, unloved, “when life kicks you in the (expletive).”

It was an emotional close to the most hardcore show “ACL” has ever produced. The folks in charge of silencing all those obscenities were probably shaking their heads, but the crowd said “R-T-J, R-T-J.”



What people are saying about Red Hot Chili Peppers at ACL Fest

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I do not pretend to be an expert in the study of Californication, but I did sing “Snow (Hey Oh)” at an office Christmas karaoke party last year, and I know every word to “Dani California.” So, it’s not like there’s a complete lack of appreciation here. The Los Angeles rock juggernauts returned to Austin City Limits Music Festival for the second weekend on Saturday to once again headline opposite Chance the Rapper. I decided to catch a little of my first RHCP show before I called it a night.

Anthony Kiedis performs with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the Miller Lite Stage at ACL Fest on October 14, 2017. Dave Creaney / AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

There were a few dashes of spice which felt like the type of show I’d always imagined. A guy behind me shouted “Will Ferrell!” when Chad Smith brought the beat in. Flea’s bass turned every dude in my radius into Pavlov’s bro, a “woo” for every lick. The shirts came off Flea and Anthony Kiedis before the clock struck 9 p.m. I noticed three distinct aromas of weed.

The banter was party-ready, too:

  • Jokes about jumping into Barton Springs Pool and dropping acid
  • A Butthole Surfers shout-out
  • Saying that the XX touched hearts but Jay-Z touched booties
  • Strip-mall zen proverbs like “We are the human beings. We are the ones who love, who shine their light.” 
Flea performs with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the Miller Lite Stage at ACL Fest on October 14, 2017. Dave Creaney / AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

The crowd I worked my way through was feeling every word of songs like “Around the World” and “Otherside.” One guy in front of me was FaceTiming the show for a friend. A man next to me in a Garnett jersey waved his hands in front of his face and swayed from side to side. Someone was in tree. Two teenagers were making out at the farthest back reaches, where the crowd was thin and you could start to hear Chance sing “Same Drugs.”

RELATED: Lessons on showbiz, and a Red Hot Chili Pepper’s hat selection

Those are one person’s experiences. Here’s what people at ACL Fest were say-oh-ing before and after the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ set:

The crowd gathers to watch The Red Hot Chili Peppers perform on the Miller Lite Stage at ACL Fest on October 14, 2017. Dave Creaney / AMERICAN-STATESMAN.


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.


5 pineapples we spotted during Glass Animals’ ACL Fest set (and a watermelon)

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Pineapples are the fruit of 2017. Or at least, they’re the fruit of Austin City Limits Music Festival 2017.

Nowhere was that more evident than at Glass Animals’ sundown set Saturday — the British psychedelic pop group rolled out on stage with a giant pineapple disco ball.

A giant pineapple shines in the stage lights as Glass Animals 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

Frontman Dave Bayley is known for his sometimes-slinky-sometimes-aerobic dance moves, his whisper-singing and trippy lyrics that flip between the metaphorical and the highly literal so frequently, it’s hard to tell what message he’s trying to send (but it’s impossible to resist dancing along).

But the message he sent Saturday night at ACL Fest was, quite literally, “pineapples are in my head.” Y’all, there were pineapples in my head and everywhere else at the Honda stage.

1. A pineapple pool float

Right out the gate, a fan in the front of the crowd pulled out a massive pineapple pool float and hoisted it above his or her head during set opener “Life Itself” (off 2016’s “How To Be A Human Being”) and then “Black Mambo,” one of few songs the band played from its 2014 debut album “Zaba.”

2. Pineapple clothing

As Bayley introduced “Season 2 Episode 3,” I noticed the woman in front of me was wearing a pineapple tank top. She swayed slowly, and I wondered if she knew — was she a Glass Animals fan, or did she just love pineapple print? It’s hard to say. I thought the same when, during “Youth,” I noticed the woman next to me wore pineapple-print shorts. It’s a goshdarn pineapple conspiracy around here.

Glass Animals 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

3. A giant sparkly pineapple on stage

The aforementioned pineapple disco ball lit up and started spinning during “Gooey,” undoubtedly the band’s most popular song. The pineapple-clad women around me began singing along. Maybe they were in on it, after all.

PHOTOS: Glass Animals gets tropical with ACL Fest performance

4. A real-life actual pineapple

…that Bayley threw into the crowd as he sang the first verses of “Pork Soda.” Isn’t that dangerous? Pineapples are … prickly.

5. A pineapple maraca

This was the one pineapple I actually wished I owned. Drummer Joe Seaward pulled it out during “Pork Soda.”

6. A watermelon

Glass Animals had a watermelon-printed kick drum. Because why not? Bayley stood on the drum during “Agnes” and jumped off the first “I’m gonna hold you like you’re mine” drop.

Despite all the pineapples, the set’s most meta moment happened during “Poplar St.,” when Bayley remarked, “Did you steal an actual Poplar St. sign?” to someone in the audience who turned out to be Charles Hegi, who stole the sign from his small Arkansas town in “broad daylight,” he said.

Charles Hegi shows the crowd his autographed street sign he stole from his hometown in Arkansas for a group of girls to photograph before Glass Animals performs during the second weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. Poplar St. is a popular song by Glass Animals. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Sports doubleheader in late-afternoon heat fills up ACL Fest beer hall

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Competitive contests for both the Texas Longhorns and the Houston Astros made for a lively time in the beer hall at the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Saturday, as hundreds of festgoers filled up the space for a break from the late-afternoon heat.

Among them were Jody and Liz Lara, two Austinites who are both volunteering for the festival this weekend. Volunteers work in shifts, and they purposefully scheduled themselves for time slots that allowed them to catch the Texas-Oklahoma football game.

Jody and Liz Lara spent much of Saturday afternoon in the ACL Fest beer hall for the Texas-Oklahoma game on Oct. 14, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

They endured a tough start, with Texas going down 17-0 early. But in the third quarter, Texas rallied back to pull within 23-17. On the adjacent screen, the Astros and the New York Yankees were locked in a tense 1-1 tie during the second game of the American League Championship series.

The Laras, both decked out in Longhorn gear, were there mainly for the Red River Rivalry. “I want the Astros to win, but we’re mostly fans of Texas football,” Jody said.

The 90-degree late-afternoon temperatures made staying in the beer hall an even easier call. “Being in the shade definitely helps,” Liz said. “It’s an enticement to keep watching the game.”

Key third-quarter penalties against the Sooners, one of which nullified an OU touchdown and another that helped keep a Texas TD drive alive, brought a reversal of fortune to the hall as Sooners fans first exulted, then quieted while the Longhorn faithful cheered. Some added a little color: “Stop cheating!” after the first penalty, and “You can’t do that!” after the second. The requisite “OU sucks!” cheers followed soon enough, but the game was still far from over.



ACL Fest 2017: 13-year-old Grace VanderWaal draws huge crowd at autograph tent

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Jessie Chatham said her day at the Austin City Limits Music Festival still would be a good one if she didn’t get a pair of T-shirts autographed by teen pop star Grace VanderWaal, but it’d definitely be a bonus for the 14-year-old Austin resident.

From her spot in line about 60 yards back from the Waterloo Records autograph tent, she didn’t know what her chances were.

Grace Vanderwaal takes a picture with Anna Haffelfinger, 11, of Austin 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

“I already got to see her play today, so it’s OK if that’s all that happens,” said Chatham, who came to the festival with her mother, Leslie, on Saturday specifically to see the “America’s Got Talent” winner play an early afternoon set on the HomeAway stage. “I have no idea what I’ll say if I get to meet her. I just think she’s so genuine with her songs.”

READ MORE: She’s 13. And she may be the breakout star of this year’s ACL Fest.

Organizers at the autograph tent said VanderWaal’s hour-long session was expected to draw the largest crowd of the day, with many of the thousands who saw her perform migrating into the quickly growing line for a chance to get a quick “hello” and have merchandise autographed.

While VanderWaal’s fans were queueing up, Austin electropop duo Missio were enjoying their time with a procession of fans who came to say hello and get albums, shirts and more signed.

Instrumentalist and backing vocalist David Butler said taking part in autograph and meet-and-greet sessions give the pair a chance to hear how their music has impacted listeners.

“There’s lots of dark things in our music and we’re saying here’s what we struggle in our own lives,” he said. “Lots of the fans come to talk about how the music has affected them and the stuff they struggle with, and maybe we help them continue walking down the path of keeping up with their sobriety or something like that.”

Grace Vanderwaal signs her autograph for Lila Grace 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

Vocalist Matthew Brue said he looks forward to shaking hands and putting a human face to fans he’s built rapport with on social media.

“It’s cool to put a face with a Twitter handle and see friendships formed by seeing people all the time in little moments like that,” he said. “In the world we lived in there used to be a line where the artist was untouchable. Now nothing is off limits and your entire life is out there. Music is the doorway and it lets people into what inspires someone.”

Back in line for VanderWaal, Arlington residents Scott and Melissa Spencer waited with their daughter, Sophia, 10, for a chance to get a poster signed.

The family had had a teary moment together during VanderWaal’s song “You Don’t Know My Name” at the end of her set and were looking forward to Sophia getting a chance to meet her musical hero, if only for a moment.

“This is all for her,” Scott Spencer said as Sophia clutched her rolled-up poster and waited for the singer to arrive and start greeting fans. “It’s great that we can enjoy music together that we both enjoy. We’re also going to see Tash (Sultana), Glass Animals and Red Hot Chili Peppers together tonight.”

Grace Vanderwaal signs a poster for a fan 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

The Great ACL Fest Debate: Is rap duo Run the Jewels overrated?

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Over the past few years rap duo Run the Jewels has become the unlikely breakout of the decade. Their aggressive rhyme style and feline-friendly internet antics have made them one of the biggest hip-hop acts around, but do they deserve the acclaim? Team 360 is split on the matter with contributors Ramon Ramirez and Chad Swiatecki taking polar opposite positions.

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On Sunday at noon they will duke it out in a Facebook Live debate moderated by yours truly. Here are their opening position statements:

Chad Swiatecki: I’m not saying Killer Mike and El-P are proof that mankind is still evolving to a higher level of intellect and communication… wait, actually, yes I am.

Ramon Ramirez: Run the Jewels should not be here. But three albums and four years into ACL sets, the cagey duo of southern icon Killer Mike and aggro contrarian El-P are still posturing in denim jackets. It’s repellant rap music for tatted dudes who work in front of MacBooks, mean and nostalgic in the worst way. People like the familiar stylings, but it’s reverse-engineered noise. I don’t like their art, and neither should you.

Tune in Sunday, to see who takes the trophy in what is sure to be a spirited conversation.

Dreamers dream a little ACL Fest dream … OF DOOM

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Sure, Dreamers have their setlist loaded with songs about self-destruction. But they’ve got a beat, and you can dance to them!

Marc Nelson of DREAMERS performs on the BMI Stage during weekend two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. TINA PHAN / FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The New York City rock band fought the heat through a head-bobbing appearance on the tiny BMI stage at Austin City Limits Music Festival on Saturday. Tiny stage, but big crowd. Dreamers — frontman Nick Wold, bassist Nelson and drummer Jacob Wick — packed ’em in for an early afternoon party where the specter of doom loomed ever present. But also, he brought the keg.

Sometimes Wold sang of drinking all night and running stoplights; oftentimes, he sang stories of partners who caused him harm one way or another. Delicious, irresistible harm. The world at large is no gentler outside the Dreamers bubble. “The sky is falling down, better run for your life,” Wold implored on   “Last Night on Earth,” about global warming. Heck, even the band’s choice of cover song, a snippet of  “Zombie” by the Cranberries, found the back alleys of life worth examining. With their tanks and their guns, the sky is falling down,  it’s all cut from the same cloth.

Dreamers isn’t running a dirge factory, though. Their vibrant, hooky rock grabbed you by the shirt collar and dragged you to the dance floor, a little Strokes peeking out around the edges of where the Weezer wasn’t. The band’s sound, though, is all 2017. They didn’t lack for showmanship, either. Wold’s got a mean somersault.

It was a good call to end on “Sweet Disaster,” then. With a name like that and a riff that would make any Blink-182 fan feel at home, it’s a thesis that’ll make you throw your arms in the air.