Since 2002, Austin City Limits has been providing the southwest with top-tier live music between rock, hip-hop, and electronic music. Fifteen years later, the sentiment in which ACL was founded upon remains the same: congregate music lovers and turn the volume up to eleven.
Weekend 2 at Austin City Limits featured 114 bands and 36 hours of incredible music. Here’s a ranking of the best shows at this years' music festival.
1: The Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Chili Peppers came to put on a fantastic show, plain and simple. The audience endured over an hour and a half of waiting, elbow-to-elbow, drenched in sweat, all united to see the same alternative rock band that defined funk rock. It was worth the wait. The band played a diverse set list that included “Otherside,” “Californication,” “Power of Equality,” and an encore of “Goodbye Angels” and “Give it Away.”
2: Vance Joy
Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer performing on the ACL main stage, Oct. 8, 2017
Standing in front of a small band consisting of a drummer, keyboards, and trumpet, Vance Joy is undeniably talented. His vocals were sincere as he played hits such as “Riptide” and “Mess is Mine,” mixed in with a couple of new tracks including “Lay it On Me” from his upcoming album. He was all smiles as he melted hearts in his hour-long set.
3: Ice Cube
I knew the hits from Ice Cube and N.W.A., but I had no idea how electrifying a 48-year-old rapper could be. Performing next to WC, Ice Cube had the crowd throwing up “Westside” symbols and chanting back his lyrics. His set consisted of three on-stage screens that played his classic music videos while he took us back to 1989, and everything after.
4: The Killers
The festival definitely saved one of the best for last. The Killers took the stage to conclude the weekend, and they did not disappoint. Dressed in a sparkling jacket and pants, lead singer Brandon Flowers was full of a robust energy that possessed the crowd entirely. His stage presence reminded me of a modern version of, the one and only, Elvis Presley. Hailing from Las Vegas, The Killers came kicked off with a song from their new album called “The Man.” The beloved “Mr. Brightside” was their encore, of course, and every song in between was vibrant to hear and watch.
5: Foster the People
Foster the People sounded psychedelic and purposeful, and every word was sung passionately by lead singer Mark Foster. I found myself lost in the music. Foster spoke only once to the audience, saying, “All I have to say is what’s written on this shirt.” His black T-shirt had the words “F*** Racism” written multiple times across the front. On the first weekend of ACL, the band omitted playing “Pumped Up Kicks,” so close to the Las Vegas Shootings, but they played it at the end of their performance on weekend 2.
Not evoking as powerful of a performance as Ice Cube, Jay-Z walked the stage in sweatpants and chains with a single piece of set design; a 40-foot balloon dog. With lights flashing and bass dropping, Jay-Z opened with “Run this Town,” and threw it back with early songs like “Big Pimpin’” and songs from his latest album 4:44. The most memorable track was “Numb/Encore,” where Jay-Z spoke about the recent passing of Linkin’ Park’s Chester Bennington, and asked the crowd to sing for Chester.
7: OAR (Of A Revolution)
OAR is an incredibly talented band from Rockville, MD. They have a roots rock and indie distinctive style, mainly because the of the saxophone and trumpet players who, not only sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before, dance from start to finish. The band’s chemistry is phenomenal and each song felt like its own production. You’ve probably heard their classic song, “Shatter,” but the band has so many more jams to offer. Happiness radiated as OAR played “Peace,” “That was a Crazy Game of Poker,” and even a cover of “Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil.
8: Milky Chance
The duo from Kassel, Germany definitely had fun on stage, creating one of the most light-hearted concerts at the festival. Clemens Rehbein is an incredible guitar player who allowed his fingers to play riffs beyond the short guitar solos on the band’s tracks. Memorable songs included “Down by the River,” “Stolen Dance,” “Blossom” and “Flashed Junk Mind”
If you haven’t heard MISSIO yet, they are definitely worth checking out. Their most popular song, “Middle Fingers” features grunge lyrics (I am tired of seeing pretty people everywhere/I am not a model middle fingers in the air) to an indie electro-pop backdrop. The band, from Austin, Texas, hyped up the audience while their beats came in hard. Check out this band, and be sure to listen to “Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea,” “KDV,” and “I Do What I Want.”
Live recently reunited with singer Ed Kowalczk, whose voice distinct voice absolutely completes the band. They have a classic rock sound and an upbeat demeanor on stage. The band played newer songs from their most recent album, The Turn and timeless songs that we all know from the radio like “I Alone,” and “Lightning Crashes.” Live also played a heartfelt song in memory of the recently deceased Chris Cornell, covering Audioslave’s, “I am the Highway.”
In the words of lead singer Ed Kowalczk, “I don’t care what political party you are and I don’t give a sh**. But the power of music unites us all.”
And that is exactly what Austin City Limits 2017 did, unite us all.
Charissa Inman is a writer for Daily Lobo Music. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org