Photos by Narciso Palma
Celebrating its fifteenth year in existence, Austin City Limits Festival continued this October 7-9 in the state capital of Texas. Situated in lush, green Zilker Park, "ACL" has in recent years become the counterpoint to the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference and Festival held annually every Spring. Now held over 2 weekends to accommodate audiences that continue to grow (it was estimated that 73,000 attended last Sunday allegedly besting a Coachella number averaged at 50,000), the festival caters to what can loosely be deemed the EDM & indie rock crowds with a disproportionate number of millennials comprising the fan base.
When formulating the idea of starting a music festival near the turn of the millennium, the people at C3 Productions deemed that rather starting something new from the ground up, it might be a better idea to leverage what already existed and capitalize on that name-brand recognition. Hence, festival organizers licensed the title of the popular "Austin City Limits" name from the long-running PBS television show in an effort to jumpstart their outdoor music gathering and hit the ground running. This investment has proven to be a success with estimates that this year's festival will have over 450,000 people in attendance. Newsworthy among the headliners this year:
The Chainsmokers: Unless you have been hiding under a rock in a non-Western nation, you would know this duo of producers/remixers now dominate the charts with none less than highly-regarded "Los Angeles Times" colloquially dubbing them pop stars after their breakout hit "Closer" performed at the MTV Video Music Awards skyrocketed them to the top of the Billboard charts (and over 300 million YouTube views).
Radiohead: While it's been 19 years since the lads from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, released their seminal album "OK, Computer" which some critics believe to be one of the great albums of all time, Radiohead have not missed a beat at this point having released 9 albums in total. Starting in 2007 with the album "In Rainbows" following the release of "Hail to the Thief" which served as a critique on "The War on Terror," the band started experimenting with "pay-what-you want" paradigms in an era where major record labels have been under siege. For movie buffs, take note that guitarist Jonny Greenwood stays busy 24/7 scoring films for American auteur Paul Thomas Anderson including "Inherent Vice" and "There Will Be Blood."
LCD Soundsystem: While it seems like it's been a minute since much of anything has been heard from LCD Soundsystem, the reason that occurred apparently is because the group had disbanded only to return with their first single 5 years later. Maintaining the band's punk rock ethos stemming from front man James Murphy's days as part of the NYC bands "Speedking" and "Pony," Murphy nonetheless crossed-over even garnering Grammy noms including for their second album "Sound of Silver." Perhaps best known for their 2005 wry hit "Daft Punk is Playing at my House" also nominated for a Grammy on their self-titled debut album, the group is not one to sit on their laurels and delivers one of the most dynamic live performances and light shows for the disaffected who are at that point in their life where they simply want to dance!
Kendrick Lamar: This hip-hop artist from South Central Los Angeles best known for his breakout album "To Pimp a Butterfly" is a 7-time Grammy-award winner. Following the release of his Interscope Records debut "good kid, m.A.A.d city" which went platinum and reached number 2 on the Billboard charts, Lamar eventually found himself as one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2016. A recent winner of BET's Lyricist of the Year Award, Lamar is noted for reviving the "conscious" hip-hop style prominent in the 90s with acts such as KRS-1, MC Lyte, and Poor Righteous Teachers. Labelmate and fellow Los Angeles Rams fan Schoolboy Q also performs during ACL's 2nd weekend.
As detailed by New York by way of Pittsburgh band Corbu whose animated music video "Neon Hallway" from their Universal Records album "Everything You Imagine Is Real" is the best of the best, "ACL is our first festival ever at the end of our first tour ever. It's so much fun here. We love it."