The Best and Worst of ACL Fest, Weekend 2
Photos by Julian Bajsel
Note: this article was updated at 8 a.m. Tuesday, October 14, to add Ivan Guzman's contributions.
Best 17-Year-Old Who Rocked Oh Lorde! This lovely New Zealand native is the real deal, and stole Weekend 2 with her windpipes, big hair and humility. The crowd at the Retail Me Not Stage was one of the largest of the festival, with everyone in awe of this youngster's performance and singing along. She even sprinkled in an amazing cover of Kanye's "All Of The Lights."
Lorde said ACL was her last show on her first world tour, and asked the crowd to "cheer louder than you have ever cheered before" as a token of appreciation of her crew. I'll take a Lorde performance over Iggy Azalea any day of the weekend. MARCO TORRES
Best Act That Fulfilled Expectations: Sam Smith I went into Sam Smith's set hoping that I wouldn't be disappointed and that his live vocals would be on the same level, if not better, than his recorded vocals. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.
After having just recovered from a short stint of tonsillitis, Smith's vocals were quite on point, and he did not just sing those depressing slow songs he has become pretty known for. Sam brought the funky, up-tempo numbers, too, which were arguably more enjoyable than the more recognizable parts of his discography. He really is the real deal. IVAN GUZMAN
Best Back-to-Back Juxtaposition of Musical Styles Saturday evening featured Swedish electronic pop duo Icona Pop on the Miller Lite stage, followed by indie-folk/Americana-rock band The Avett Brothers. Icona was way more interesting and fun than I expected, with awesome crowd participation and stage presence.
Immediately afterwards and one stage over, the Avett boys hit the Honda Stage like modern day folk music rock stars. Playing banjos and organs and a violin and cello, they make music the old fashioned way, pouring every ounce of heart into each lyric and note. From traditional to electro, and everything in between, this is why I love this festival. MARCO TORRES
Best Food Options: ACL The motto for ACL's Austin Eats food vendor area is, "far from funnel cakes and turkey legs," and never have I thought I'd be so excited for that until checking out this year's food. This year's deliciousness included options from vendors like Amy's Ice Creams, Torchy's Tacos, Stubb's Bar-B-Q, Tamale Addiction and more.
This year, the festival also started the unbelievably convenient ACL Cashless, which is where you link your credit or debit card to your wristband and simply tap it to pay for any of your purchases. Even though the lemonade was $6, there's nothing more refreshing after you've been waiting in the hot sun for three hours. IVAN GUZMAN
Best "I Love Hip-Hop" Moments OutKast and Eminem are two (technically three) of the reasons why I fell in love with rap and hip hop as a teenager. I can remember riding around htown in my 1998 Chevy Cavalier with a 1200 watt amp and a pair of Rockford Fosgate 12 inch subwoofers in the trunk, feeling like the coolest vato in the barrio.
As those ATLiens celebrate 20 years in the rap game, and Marshall Mathers 15, the equally older me looks back on those years with amazement. I may not be a teenager anymore, but I can still party. Listening to "Player's Ball" and "The Way I Am" reminded me how lucky I really am. MARCO TORRES
Best Stage Dive: Mac DeMarco I'm sure there were many stage dives this weekend all around the festival grounds, but perhaps the most awesome stage dive of all was Mac DeMarco's catapult at his set on Saturday afternoon. Most artists ride for a few seconds at the front of the audience and then get pulled back to safety by security, but DeMarco rode for two or three minutes, going all the way to the end of the crowd and back. He let people pull down his boxers, prompted other audience members to follow in his lead -- it was everything a stage-dive should be. IVAN GUZMAN
Best International Presence I noticed an abundance of Mexican flags being waved at this year's festival. Some folks traveled from Mexico City, San Luis, Monterrey, Matamoros and Zacatecas. Musically, bands such as Rey Pila and Zoé represented the great tradition of rock music in Mexico. Both bands drew in sizable crowds, winning over new fans in the process with their energy and attitude. Viva Mexico! MARCO TORRES
Best Crowd Experience: Chromeo At the RetailMeNot stage on Sunday, right after Real Estate and before Chromeo, my friends and the people around us all expressed our fatigue and desire to sit down for the hour-long waiting period. So, the ten or so of us banded together and decided that we were all going to sit down on the ground at the same time.
On the count of three, we secured our space in the audience while simultaneously keeping the people behind us from pushing -- my first-ever crowd-sitting revolution. Dramatic? Yes. Worth it? Yes. IVAN GUZMAN
See the Worst of Weekend 2 on the next page.
Worst Waste of Shoes and Socks Yes, it rained, but luckily that only caused a few acts to be canceled on Saturday morning. It did cause the smelly and slippery "Dillo Dirt" that Zilker is infamous for, so those of you who were brave enough to wear your nice festival boots or Jordans, you can kiss those babies goodbye.
The sun did come out to play on Sunday afternoon, marking another beautiful end to this round of ACL. See y'all next year! MARCO TORRES
Worst "I'm at a Festival, Fuck the Rules" Moments Last weekend, I spoke to Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, and he was happy to report very little in terms of arrests or major incidents at Zilker. This weekend, however, I witnessed a good number of unruly festival attendees. Drug use seemed higher than usual, and more than just weed. On Day 2, I was almost tackled by several dudes who jumped the gate and were running from security.
I also saw tempers flare between the mostly older ACL vets with chairs and the younger, disrespectful kids who walked through camps without so much as an "excuse me." Fighting was a problem during Lorde's performance, which was strange but still scary. Lastly, a duo of female daredevils tempted death by climbing the replica of the state capitol in the middle of the park and a speaker tower during Calvin Harris. C'mon y'all, chill out. This is supposed to be fun. MARCO TORRES
Worst Crowd Experience: Lana Del Rey For most sets at ACL, it usually goes like this: you either stand near the back of the audience and relax comfortably or get a spot near the front of the audience and have to deal with being squished. But at the Samsung Galaxy stage on Saturday evening waiting for Lana Del Rey, it was more like you get a spot near the front of the audience and endure the suffocating torture of standing for two hours being pushed in all directions by ten different people, wishing you were anywhere but in that spot. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to put two artists with very rabid fan bases back to back on the same stage. Whatever it was, I just know I'm never doing that again. IVAN GUZMAN
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.