Artists were eager to bring the most energy to the stage after Austin City Limits kicked off its second week of performances with what have by far been the coolest temperatures seen this fall.
The “Star Wars” theme song played as gates opened at 12 p.m. Friday with temperatures well into the 40’s. The 36 acts scheduled to perform throughout the day drew motivation from the chilling weather to keep the crowd engaged and entertained—and most importantly, warm.
Performances began at 12:30 p.m. with The Beaches, a Toronto-based glam rock and garage band, playing on the American Express stage. UK hip hop soul artist Mahalia followed by taking the Honda stage at 12:45 p.m.
Mahalia Burkmar, which is her full name, spent her first time in Austin with weather fairly similar to her home in London. Though London is known for having much cooler weather than Austin, Burkmar said she was not used to the Texas cold and apologized for appearing in a tracksuit and a large, puffy coat on stage.
“I don’t know if you’re used to this (weather), but I’m not used to this,” Burkmar said.
Burkmar released her debut album, “LOVE AND COMPROMISE,” September 2019 and played several songs off it including “Good Company,” “Regular People” and “I wish I missed my ex.” Concert attendees and Mahalia fans Fiona James and Nelson Smith said her music has a fun and unique style that originally caught their ears.
“She reminds me of the R&B singers I like from the ‘90s,” Smith said. “She reminds me of Aaliyah but with a better voice.”
Despite the unexpectedly cold weather, Burkmar said she enjoyed her time performing at ACL and wishes to return in the future.
“I hope I can come back (to Austin),” Burkmar said. “I really hope I do.”
Directly next to Mahalia’s performance, Nashville artist Savannah Conley began her set on the BMI stage at 1:30 p.m. Right off the bat, Conley came forward with her disappointment in the Texas weather while still being appreciative of performing at ACL.
“We are cold and happy to be here with you guys,” Conley said.
Concertgoers Kaylem Renfro and Justin Delmont said they appreciated the feel of her music and the novelty she has as a musician.
“I think she has a very unique voice,” Renfro said.
Temperatures remained cool moving into the afternoon as festival attendees had difficulty using their hands properly due to the frigidness. At this point, it seemed that dancing was the only option to shake away the cold. Dance artists Flamingosis, Kaytranada and RL Grime delivered performances that warmed the bodies and spirits of ACL goers.
New Jersey-based electronic music producer Flamingosis, whose real name is Aaron Velasquez, took the Tito’s Handmade Vodka stage at 2:00 p.m. and brought the most energy seen all day, which was well reciprocated by the audience. His electronic mix of jazz, funk and hip hop gave the audience the boost needed to dance off any chills they still had.
Festival attendee Chandler Hollowell said Velasquez’s music fit the mood of the crowd very well, and she enjoyed hearing the variety of music displayed in his set.
“I like his taste in music,” Hollowell said. “I like how it’s not the stuff we hear every day. He takes you to different places.”
Canadian DJ Kaytranada, born by the name Louis Celestin, took on the Miller Lite stage at 5:00 p.m. and maintained the energy needed to keep warm. He performed with giant TV screens displaying dancing visuals that read “Get off your phones,” “Dance to this” and “You are experiencing Kaytranada live.” Celestin said he was very grateful to have played both weekends of ACL and was appreciative of the crowd’s energy.
“Austin, Texas, I love y’all very much,” Celestin said. “Week two was the best week of (my) life.”
Festival attendees Denise and Matt Thornton have been attending ACL every weekend for the past 12 consecutive years. They said they were immediately drawn to Celestin’s sounds coming from the Miller Lite stage upon entering ACL grounds. They said ACL is great for discovering a variety of artists that would have gone unheard without the festival.
“The best part about ACL is the golden little nuggets of random bands you would never know otherwise,” Denise said.
Variety at ACL is not only limited to the music, however. The festival provides an assortment of food with gluten-free and vegan options to keep attendees’ hunger satisfied. ACL Eats includes a food lineup of well-known restaurants like Chipotle and Torchy’s Tacos, Austin staples like Tacodeli and Salt Lick BBQ and lesser-known options for those wishing to branch out their taste buds.
After dinner time, Henry Steinway, better known as RL Grime, performed on the T-Mobile stage at 6:30 p.m. and continued fueling the crowd with energy and enthusiasm. The Los Angeles DJ played in front of a growing crowd with a performance consisting of smoke machines firing off throughout the set and background visuals of explosions and a burning sun, which makes a good comparison to his style and spirit of music.
Despite the weather continuing to wear on the crowd, Steinway kept the audience bouncing throughout his set.
“I know it’s cold out there,” Steinway said. “(But) I want to see how high Austin can jump.”
After Steinway’s performance, legendary rock band Guns N’ Roses took to the American Express stage at 7:30 p.m., which was just a few hundred yards from the T-Mobile stage. Although the band is in its third decade of performing, Guns N’ Roses brought what seemed like as much flare as the band had in its prime. The band played hits like “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Night Train.”
Across the ACL grounds, Australian musician Kevin Parker and his band Tame Impala played the Honda stage at 8:15 p.m. and battled the sound from the opposing headlining show by Guns N’ Roses. The band gave an intense light show and played in front of psychedelic visuals to brighten the audience.
Parker said the size and energy of the crowd had more excitement than the week prior, despite having chilly temperatures.
“You guys are already more crazy than last week,” Parker said. “This isn’t the Texas weather I know and love, but this sure is a Texas crowd.”
The band played many of its hit songs including “Borderlines,” “Eventually” and “It Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.” Parker said Tame Impala would not perform another show in 2019 and that he was excited to end the band’s tour in Austin.
“This is the last show of the year,” Parker said. “I’m so f*cking happy we get to do it in Austin. There aren’t many other places I’d want to do it.”
Tame Impala closed with its song “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” and a rendition of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” which was originally written by Bob Dylan in 1974 and later covered by Guns N’ Roses in 1990.
Guns N’ Roses finished day one with a bang by playing one of its hits “Paradise City” and closing to a fireworks display on stage with the Austin skyline in the background.
Day two will feature plenty more artists ready to show Austin what they have to offer. Performing artists include Masego, Gary Clark, Jr., Childish Gambino and The Cure.
For more information on tickets, performing artists, or other ACL activities, visit the website or download the official ACL app.