The rains came early on Sunday morning, but by the time the ACL opened up for business before noon, there was hardly a cloud in the sky, making for an extremely warm and muddy day. The biggest acts of the day -- Red Hot Chili Peppers, Iggy & the Stooges, Crystal Castles, and the Avett Brothers -- helped attract a sizable crowd to the last day of the last single-weekend ACL. We're going double-barrels next year, folks.
1. Gary Fucking Clark Jr. Wow. I started off my Sunday afternoon with a slab of Texas blues with Gary Clark Jr. on the AMD stage. The hometown Austin hero delivered a riveting set in front of an attentive crowd, reminding us why he is Eric Clapton's favorite guitarist. Friends and family of Clark, plus some very major press outlets, were scattered all over the side stage area too, to see Clark overtake another rung on the ladder of rock stardom. CRAIG HLAVATY
2. I'm In the Wrong Profession I feel like I need to take up ASL. The people who sign the lyrics on some of the bigger stages appear to be having more fun than anyone else in Zilker Park. BRITTANIE SHEY
The Girls of Austin City Limits
3. The Lumineers on the Austin Ventures Stage That "Ho Hey" band has grown considerably in popularity since their slot was announced earlier this year. Their crowd created a hilariously agitated bottleneck as they swelled in mass to see them. The sound bleed from the Die Antwoord show on the larger Honda stage nearby made it hard to hear this year's biggest faux-folk that isn't Mumford & Sons. The band could have easily set up shop where The Weeknd's slot -- he canceled due to health reasons -- was supposed to be. CRAIG HLAVATY
4. The Best DJ of ACL With all due respect to A-Trak, Avicii and Bassnectar, my favorite performance by a DJ at this year's festival was someone who was added to the lineup at the very last minute. Austin's DJ Mel was set to open up for The Weeknd at a pre-ACL party Friday night in Austin, but he was removed from that show after a "management change of heart."
Sunday morning, The Weeknd was forced to cancel his ACL afternoon set due to medical reasons, leaving the organizers scrambling to replace his time slot.
And wow, did DJ Mel save the day! As I was walking by the Barton Springs stage on my way to shoot Iggy & the Stooges, I was mesmerized by the raging party of electronic rap-rock remixes going on, with a sizable crowd jumping and reveling in the mud. He mixed in Jay and Kanye's "Niggas In Paris" with Lil Jon's "Bia Bia" with DJ DMD's "25 Lighters On My Dresser," all with a flow that had Zilker all the way turnt up!
Mel has been an institution in Austin for almost two decades, winning praise as a true "DJ's DJ" by Z-Trip and many others. His perfect balance of scratching and mixing is a must-see, or must-hear. Now available for birthdays, weddings and major music festivals. MARCO TORRES
5. Children In Peril
A colleague noted that he saw more kids at the festival than usual. That's cool, and fun to imagine that they were even conceived there. But what was fun realizing that two of the most profane acts of the weekend, Antwoord and KRIT, were scheduled just yards away from the tamer ACL kiddie area. Songs about brushing your teeth and homework would get sprinkled with ho's and fucks, and I can imagine a few parents didn't dig it. But it is Austin, so who the hell knows... CRAIG HLAVATY
6. Iggy Pop Iggy Pop is pure sex incarnate. This is not to say he's physically attractive. He just has that je ne sais quoi. To say any more would be downright vulgar, but damn. I felt like I needed a shower after that show. BRITTANIE SHEY
7. Open Up and (Sound) Bleed
Sound bleed was a major fan issue on the west side of Zilker Park. Whether it was Father John Misty and Big KRIT duking it out Saturday, or the Randy Rogers Band up against the ear-shattering synths of Crystal Castles, you could always expect strange earfellows between the Austin Ventures and Honda stages. CRAIG HLAVATY
8. Barrington Levy In terms of discovery, my favorite stage this year was the Zilker tent. A small covered area near the food court, this is where I heard Sonámbulo and caught Lee Fields for the first time. I will never get the chance to see Otis Redding live, but Lee Fields makes a decent substitute. On Sunday we caught a few songs of Barrington Levy, and the entire area was a massive skankin' dance party. BRITTANIE SHEY
9. The Weird, the Wild & the Wonderful
Another year, another ACL Fest come and gone. After the music has stopped, after the blisters on your feet heal, you rehydrate and sleep and immediately wanna do it all again. This year was somewhat underwhelming compared to the last two years, but not in a bad way. I felt more relaxed and free to wander around this time, jumping from stage to stage, hearing new music, meeting new friends.
Day Three was filled with a range of familiar performances as well as unexpected surprises. Gary Clark Jr. began the day on the AMD Stage, still packing in blues fans with his no-nonsense, down-to-earth sound. But Gary, maybe you should retire that "Bright Lights, Big City" song, we all know your name already, son!
I was apprehensive about Die Antwoord's set. I was warned that they were confrontational and violent and batshit crazy. But I figured that I survived shooting Odd Future and A$AP Rocky several times, how bad could this be? The verdict... lots of profane language and sexual gestures, but nothing horrible. Oh, and I am equally smitten and terrified of Yo-landi Vi$$er.
Iggy Pop was interesting. I'm not a fan, but he won me over when he asked the crowd to jump the barriers and get onstage with him. Anytime security gets over-ruled by an artist makes for fun times. Lots of old and new Iggy fans having a blast and ruffling the feathers of Chili Peppers fans who had been camping at the stage all day.
And then there was Anthony Kiedis and Flea. I've listened to those guys since I was in middle school. From Blood Sugar Sex Magik to Californication, this band was amazing to me. There were thousands of Chili Peppers shirts in the crowd, and some of the fans in the front row were there since early that morning. At the end of the night, hearing 50,000-plus people singing "Under the Bridge" in unison was the perfect way to end the weekend.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Until next year, ACL. Thanks for everything. MARCO TORRES
10. Barton Springs If you spend a full three days at ACL you are bound to have some down time, and you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't, at some point, sneak away for a dip in Barton Springs. The 72° water is the perfect antidote to Texas's late Indian summer and festival fatigue. BRITTANIE SHEY