Whether you prefer casually bobbing your head to the music or Willow-Smith-whipping-your-hair-back-and-forth to the beat, there’s something for everyone at the festival. From the sweet crooning melodies of the Avett Brothers to the futuristik rap-rave Zef-influenced beats of Die Antwoord, ACL is multi-faceted entertainment for every type of musical hipster.
Emmanuel Winston live on-the-scene at the 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival
ACL is part music festival, part weekend of debauchery and part herald of cool. In a sea of young faces you can’t escape the youthful vibe, the feeling that you’re at the cusp of seeing the next big thing.
Here’s a list of 5 bands at ACL that stood out.
First Aid Kit
A Swedish duo composed of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, their stunning cover of Paul Simon’s “America” provided the early festival highlight. Their songwriting is lulling and complex, folk tinged with enough pop sensibilities to keep the audience entranced and engaged. These sisters had the ACL crowd abuzz on Friday. Check out “Emmylou” and “The Lion’s Roar.”
Tegan and Sara
Another sister duo that rocked Friday, Tegan and Sara were a crowd favorite. These twins are always fun to see live, whether or not you’re already a fan. Casual and cool, they engaged the crowd several times, at one point encouraging everyone to hug each other to demonstrate their appreciation. They entertained the crowd with some favorites, “Walking With A Ghost” and “Where Does the Good Go.” Each song tends to be distinct, so their set stayed fresh for the entire hour, rather than sticking with one sound. Check out “Back In Your Head.”
A heady set of somber electronics shot through with lots of low-end percussion and her own powerful vocals, Zola Jesus’ earlier Saturday performance set the mood for a sporadically rainy day that threatened to turn ACL into the mud fest of previous years. Somber and haunting, she performed in a flowing gray outfit and surrounded by musicians dressed all in black, her music a fitting tribute to the cloudy day. In a break of pace, she at one point surprised the crowd by running the stage, leaping into the audience. Check out “In Your Nature” and “Avalanche.”
Although only been around for a year, they were a pretty big hit with everyone who came to see them at ACL. You get the feeling that they’re on the brink of being the next big thing. They’re moody music is contrasted by the electrifying presence of their female lead singer, Channy Leaneagh. Polica had the crowd dancing and swaying, their electronic sound distinct amid the sea of other electronic artists making music today. Check out “Dark Star” and “Lay Your Cards Out.”
A raucous rap-rave group from South Africa, Die Antwoord is influenced by Zef counter-culture, their songs a big middle finger to the establishment. The two main members of the group, Ninja and Yolandi, were an energetic presence on stage magnified by a large and equally energetic crowd. The crowd of teens and twenty-somethings bouncing to the titular and psychedelic images on the big screen exude a feeling of confidence and rebellion that’s infectious. Never short of controversial, the group delivered on all fronts, creating one of the craziest dance experiences of ACL. Check out “I Fink U Freeky” and “Enter the Ninja.”
photo credits: Emmanual Winston and Chase Martin