What do you get when you combine 11 hours of awesome music per day for 6 days, over 130 incredible artists from around the world, eight perfectly engineered stages and tens of thousands of enthusiastic music lovers with just the right amount of weirdness and originality? The answer: The one, the only, Austin City Limits Music Festival. This year’s festival was once again held on two consecutive weekends, October 3 – 5, and Oct 10 – 12, 2014 in beautiful downtown Austin, Texas.
Friday, October 3: After the overnight passing of the fall’s first cold front, sunny skies and mild temperatures welcomed attendees and participants for the start of the 13th annual ACL Fest. Held on the shores of Lady Bird Lake, in picturesque Zilker Park, the festival had something for every musical taste including Western Swing, EDM, Hip-Hop, Rap, Reggae, Rock, Pop, Folk, Gospel, and every alternative and indie grouping in between. There was even a public school choir from neighboring Barton Hills Elementary School, located just up the hill from Zilker Park. Ray Benson made his 13th appearance at an ACL Fest performing with Asleep At The Wheel. Ray is the only artist to have appeared at all 13 fests. Other acts appearing on Day One included Foster The People, Sam Smith, Belle and Sebastian, Chvrches, Bleachers, Jimmy Cliff, Childish Gambino, Temples, and The Preatures. Closing out the night, the audience chose between the alternative rock stylings of Beck or the Hip-Hop sounds of Outkast.
Saturday, October 4: The weather for day two was just as beautiful as day one. Along with the cool breeze, the air was also filled with the scents of yummy delicacies from dozens of Austin’s favorite restaurants: Amy’s Ice Cream, Stubb’s BBQ, Torchy’s Tacos, P. Terry’s Burgers, Austin’s Pizza, and JuiceLand were just a few of the vendors selling foods on the festival grounds. For the adults in the crowd, the festival offered a huge craft beer tent with a wide selection of choices from local craft breweries. Day Two attendees were treated to more great musical acts including Avett Brothers, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Juanes, Interpol, Iggy Azalea, Lana Del Ray, Broken Bells, and The Head and The Heart. The closing acts for day two were Skrillex and Eminem.
Sunday, October 5: Sunday brought another perfect day filled with music and fun in the “Live Music Capital of the World”. The eight stages distributed throughout the 46 acre section of Zilker Park used as a concert venue were each constructed to accommodate different size audiences and acts. The larger stages, hosted by Samsung Galaxy and Honda, were equipped with stereo towers and huge video screens so the larger audiences could see and hear the performances better while the smaller stages allowed for a more up-close and personal experience. Day Three brought performances by Jenny Lewis, Kongos, The Replacements, Chromeo, Fitz and the Tantrums, Spoon, Phantogram, and Zedd. Closing out Week One of the festival were Calvin Harris and Pearl Jam.
Friday, October 10: Week two of ACL Fest started out in typical Austin, Texas fashion as temperatures again rose into the low ‘90s. This was too warm for some in attendance, but much nicer than the 100 plus degree temps experienced a few years ago before the festival date was moved from September to October. This move and the yearly resodding of the festival area has helped avoid the dustbowl effect experienced in previous years. In an effort to keep Zilker Park as clean and green as possible this year, festival organizers extended a special offer to ecologically-minded attendees. If the festival goers would take a bag provided to them, collect trash from the park grounds and return the filled bag to festival officials, they would receive an official ACL Fest T-shirt. Many of the acts featured during Week One returned to the festival grounds for Week Two, but each day also included a smattering of new acts as well. Some of the acts performing for Day One of Week Two included Paolo Nutini, St. Vincent, Robert Ellis, Broods, Saints of Valory, Capital Cities, James Bay, The Glitch Mob and Ozomatli. Once again Beck and Outkast closed out the night.
Saturday, October 11: In the early morning hours of Saturday, an incoming front brought thunderstorms into the Austin area, dumping heavy rains on the festival grounds and delaying the start of the gates opening until noon. This forced the cancellation of a handful of shows, but after a bit of ground maintenance, the festival started rolling again. Audiences were able to enjoy shows from the likes of The Tune Yards, Beats Antique, The Rosebuds, Empires, Rey Pila, Rebelution, Zoe, Icona Pop, Lucius, as well as closers Skrillex and Eminem.
Sunday, October 12: Although the skies remained gray for most of the day, no significant rain fell on the final day of ACL Fest 2014. To the delight of festival attendees this day was jam-packed with talented musical acts not the least of which was England’s 17 year old superstar, Lorde, who concluded her North American Tour in the same city in which she began the tour six months ago. Also on the stages this day were The Stapletones featuring local boys The Peterson Brothers, Nostalghia, Colony House, Parker Millsap, AFI, Cults, Gramatik, The Gaslight Anthem, and Calvin Harris. The entire festival was brought to a successful conclusion with a rocking performance by Pearl Jam.
Despite the rain, mud, and minor cancellations on Saturday, the 13th annual Austin City Limits Music Festival was a great success. Audiences were able to choose between a wide variety of musical acts each day, some well-established and some up-and-coming. And that’s what a festival should be about; discovering new music and supporting your favorites.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend the ACL Music Fest, mark your calendars for the 14 annual festival scheduled for Oct 2- 4 and 9 – 11, 2015 right here in the ‘Live Music Capital of The World.” But don’t forget to get your tickets right when they go on sale. Those 75,000 or so tickets for each day sell out months ahead of time.
Review by Margy Moore
Photographs by Scott Moore / Limelight Imaging