Editor’s Note: This article is the third in a series of coverage on the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
To think that a few days ago I was just getting back to my Airbnb after day one of Austin City Limits (ACL) wondering how a flock of festival girls were surviving off of a shared basket of nuggets and little to no water.
As day three came to a close I was looking back a thinking, “I can do this for another few days.”
Distinct red patches of skin on the fairer members of ACL, and the countless bandage covered heels were evidence that the constant walking from stage to stage claimed many victims over the course of the last few days, but with the star-studded line-up of day three people were bound to tough it out to see their favorite artists.
The day felt a bit bland with run of the mill rock groups, underground rappers and house music artists just trying to get their foot in the door. The dry spell of performers lasted up until the highlight of the day which was brought to ACL by Janelle Monae.
With a recent tour run behind her new album “Dirty Computer,” I had foolishly assumed that she would be tired of performing the same show over and over. She put on a riveting hour of costume changes, political commentary, dancing and more or less turning her afternoon festival set into her own headlining performance.
Whether she was in a general’s costume, a faintly African-influenced outfit or wearing pants with flappy pink attachments making her legs turn into a giant vagina she used them all to accent her very animated performance. From flipping her body around a gold and red throne, to rolling around the front of the stage and kicking her feet in the air. It didn’t matter if she was singing her power anthem “Screwed” or her sexy “Yoga,” the same bravado and power was found behind each song propelling her set into one of ACL’s best acts.
Another artist who had clearly thought out his appearance at ACL was superstar Shawn Mendes, who delicately built his setlist around his most popular songs off his new self-titled album, his past commercial hits, and even a few covers.
He managed to do an awe inspiring rendition of Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You,” and King of Leon’s “Use Somebody.” While performing universally friendly tracks like “In My Blood” and “Lost In Japan,” him and his guitarist would break off to do a few rifts. It felt as if Shawn was flirting with more aggressive rock music, but was seemingly held back by his stationary roll as an Ed Sheeran-esque heartthrob that his label now doubt has built him in.
The end of the evening was a split up between the indie, yet massively popular, Arctic Monkeys and rap icon Travis Scott. Both acts brought in flowing rivers of people eager to get as close as they could for the last night’s headliners.
The Arctic Monkeys brought to life their new album ,“Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.” At times their set felt a bit awkward, leaving concert goers in a stasis state until the Monkeys happened upon one of their cherry-picked song from their monumental album, “AM.”
Travis Scott took on the American Express Stage delivering two hours of mosh pits, chaos and songs from his whimsical, dystopian sounding album “ASTROWORLD.” Travis’s set started off with a surprise guest, and if you’re thinking he might have brought out Drake, Kanye, SZA or any other artist he’s done collaborations with you’re wrong. Travis brought out Shaquille O'Neal(yes, the basketball player), the two of them performed “CAROUSEL.”
Early in the set Travis started a song only to cut it off early to yell at a security guard apparently aggressively escorting out a fan who was raging too hard for the guard’s comfort. Travis basically told the guard to get lost and sent the fan back into the thrashing bodies of the front row.
Once day three of ACL got started it was one of the fuller, more jam-packed days of more popular artists like St. Vincent, ARIZONA, X Ambassadors, Tinashe, Vince Staples and more. But as Travis Scott’s hit “SICKO MODE” played, it marked the last song of ACL 2018. Just as fast as the festival got started it was ending with a whirlwind of shows packed back-to-back almost so many it was hard to digest one before another was up.
ACL has proven again that their ability to set up a diverse line-up is unmatched, being one of the country’s more accessible festivals. Until next year ACL will be a highlight of my year, on that has given me access to acts that usually sell out and cost hundreds of dollars more than ACL did to attend, this is the magic of music festivals.
Colton Newman is the photo editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Coltonperson.