As the weekend was coming to an end, from my experience of going the last few years, Sunday seems to be the day with the best music, and this year was no exception. The day was sunny and hot drying off the rain from the previous day. There was still mud but it was not as slippery, and there seemed to be less of a crowd.
It all started off in AMD with The Boxer Rebellion, which ended the first opening band that weekend in ACL in which the band was European. A fan of English music, it was an amazing experience to finally see the majority of the bands from across the pond in one weekend. The band was clean cut and had a great fan interaction playing tracks which were fan favorites but also favorites of the band. They were very into their music and sounded great for being as mellow as they were.
Although they have grown in popularity for their track, “Generator ^ First Floor” they still looked like the small indie band that has shown up out of nowhere and made it big. They still had much enthusiasm for their music, but the crowd was not as drawn into the five band member band from Queens New York. The music they played was good but nothing that had not been heard from any other band. They had the same generic sound that indie bands from the time of their conception have. I am not trying to say that they are just okay, their music is great, but after hearing a lot of indie bands recently and the emergence of the in the recent years, this band just seems like any other, even though they were the few to start the trend and turn indie to mainstream.
There are times for music fanatics when an artist just takes them beyond this realm and into a world or escape like nothing that exists. The crowd huddled around the AMD stage once again to catch Gary Clark Jr. is set was astounding with a great band behind him, making the guitar become its own force as he manipulated it in a way that is not seen in most performers today. It was being pushed to the extent that resembles every rock legend guitarist from Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Page. The crowd around us was very talkative taking away from the performance. I closed my eyes just to try to block them out and hear the string of the guitar being played to such perfection, that even the imperfections and slips seemed to be perfectly in tune. After a while of transcending all that was able to be made out was the song, there was nothing else heard or anybody else around. My body move rhythmically only out of a reflex rather than control. It was an experience which truly reminded me why my passion for music exists and how worldly it truly is.
From that I went to go eat and have a bit of as break from standing for the past few days. Then it was over to the Budweiser stage to catch Two Door Cinema Club. This band had finally made it big with their first album, and with their second one being released just a few weeks ago, there was more of an expectation for them to have a good set. Their set mainly consisted of track from their new album, “Beacon,” which although the crowd lacked knowledge of them, they swayed and moved to the rhythmic beats of the tracks. Their set was similar to what they have been playing around the country, and had just the night before been at House of Blues Houston.
We left early to be able to make our way through the masses to the Honda stage to watch Die Antwoord. While attempting to take a shortcut through the eats, they gated off the area creating a sea of people beyond what is seen in the stages with nowhere to move. As we made our way back we noticed the diversity of people and how people from all around the region gather for this weekend. Finally arriving to the stage, we stood nearly beside the sound booth listening to the South African Rave/Rap group “Drop dem beats.” With much controversy behind them as to their true meaning and significance in the scene, their show was up to par to what image they portrayed. They played some of their new tracks as well such as, “Diz Iz Why I’m Hot (Zef Remix),” and “Xpen$ive Sh1t.” The opening of “Expen$ive Sh1t,” was Ninja telling the crowd, “Lift your wristbands in the air. Now that’s some Expensive Shit.” He continued saying to grab your girl’s ass and saying, “Now that’s some expensive shit.” He ended by telling everyone to grab their dick, and saying, “That’s some expensive shit,” and bursts into the song. Their show was loud, obnoxious, and astounding. It captured everything they stood for perfectly with the side panels of the stage reflecting images from their music video and famous works of fan art. Their set ended amazingly giving some time to run to the Budweiser stage.
Iggy and The Stooges are one of the legends which I chose to look up to because of their contributions to the rock world. I have been an avid follower of the band for a number of years and was enthralled to see their reunion tour. The history of this artist is one which has been written about extensively and looked at it from different perspectives. When the band took the stage and then Iggy went on the crowd did their standard tradition of screaming, with the majority not really knowing the history if the band. Iggy was insatiable, and owned every piece of the stage from the mic to the floor to the crowd. At one point he screamed at the audience to bombard and attack the stage. The sea of people began to flood the stage as they kept performing. Considering their age, they still rocked the stage and gave rock the religious experience it once was. It was a reminded of the roots of rock, not about the retro clothes, or the thick frame glasses, but the actual music and the actual deep seeded emotions of rebellion, anarchy, love. Although the current generation did not understand the intensity of what was going on, the older ones were singing along and jumping around as reminisce of their adolescence kicked in. They did not play famous songs like, “The Passenger,” but won over my affection with, “Raw Power.”
Although there was a bit of a struggle convincing my fellow ACL friends to see this band which closed the festival to us we headed over to see Crystal Castles. The ending set must always be the best and the previous night this held true, only to be blown out by this group which played in the smaller Honda stage. After being a fan of theirs for a number of years I was finally able to see them. This group is not only an intense group of electronic music, but has an element to them which surpasses any live act in the electronic music scene. Their music is their medium, although a few strobe lights and pulsating tricks made it that much more, there was a more to them than just a light show. Modern day performers rely heavily on their show and play their music to accompany it. Crystal Castles broke this growing trend at ACL and most importantly played the majority of their hits close to the beginning of their set, allowing them to just plow through them and play some of their new tracks from their forthcoming album Crystal Castles III. Their performance was astounding and was beyond what I expected from them.
They closed the festival out for me and my fellow ACL counterparts, which were first going to see Childish Gambino, another great artist which unfortunately did not mean the same to me as Crystal Castles. The night ended perfectly, making the reflection of this year’s ACL weekend the best. Every year it does get better and every year there are new stories to tell, but it is not only the festival that makes it worth the trip. The city changes to a heaven of different kinds of music, allowing everything and everyone in it to be heard. There is a shifting of what the festival is, and what it can be, not only do I say this because of the two weekends that it will now take place of, but because of the shift in music and acceptance of not just the mainstream. I am looking forward to next year and cannot wait to see what they deliver.