Austin City Limits: Winners & Losers

These past two weekends, Austin’ s Zilker Park hosted the Austin City Limits Music Festival with 130+ bands in attendance. Many big names in the music business made appearances, but every band was given a chance on one of the 7 stages around the 46 acre plot of land. Some bands really brought it and drew a crowd. Others, however, were abandoned by festival goers due to a myriad of reasons.
*Editor’s Note* Be sure to click on the names for links to songs by the respected artists.

Winner: Trombone Shorty and the New Orleans

I know exactly what you are thinking, who is Trombone Shorty? This man ran around the stage with a trumpet and trombone respectfully and blew the crowd away. His energetic performance intrigued many, but his talent for live performance created an atmosphere of pure fun as he managed to sustain a crowd of college kids with jazz. He began with a bang, a loud note from a trumpet rang in the air for a couple of seconds, and then it began, the trumpet solo that all others shall be measured against. He ended his performance as he started, going out on top and definitely winning over many fans. Geaux Shorty.

Loser: Iggy Azalea

First off, Iggy is not a rapper. Side by side with Eminem and Outkast, Iggy’s rapping sounds (for lack of a better term) terrible. There is no flow in her rap, and she does not perform well in front of a crowd. Whenever she felt the crowd getting bored (which was quite often), she would take a break and dance for a bit. Her performance lacked any substance, and she eventually lost most of her crowd to Lucius or Icona Pop.

Winner: Major Lazer

Major Lazer are known for their live performances, and the reason is not because their music is great. Diplo and Walshy Fire had by far the craziest performance of the weekend. Diplo played any music that he thought was good, including songs from Kiesza and Steve Aoki. His attitude towards his performance was refreshing; he would rather everyone have a great time than appreciate his music. Mission accomplished. It was fantastic; his combination of lights and mesmerizing music made the crowd forget that they were in one of the capitals of rock and roll. At one point, Diplo put himself inside a blown up ball and walked over the crowd.

Winner: The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brother’s performance was reminiscent of the good old days in Austin, when all you needed was energy and rock and roll. They had a cellist who ran across the stage constantly while playing, alongside a double bassist, a fiddle player and a pianist. The two brothers sang separately and together, playing multiple instruments throughout. Their performance was what Austin City Limits was and always will be at its core. There is a movement towards EDM artists and more mainstream pop bands at ACL, but the Avett Brothers came to show that it is still all about rock. They barely played any of their top hits and slower songs, refusing to let the crowd lose any energy.

Winner/Loser: Childish Gambino

World renowned for his freestyle rap and his ability to energize a crowd, Childish Gambino drew a large crowd. He was fantastic for his performance, proving to everyone that he has a place on stage next to Foster the People and Eminem. Towards the end of his performance, however, he mysteriously left the stage. Two of his music videos played, and, afterwards, he went to center stage to say thank you and left. This was very odd, and nobody understood what was going on.That being said, the bulk of his performance was fantastic.

Winner: Gramatik

EDM showed up for this festival, proving to the purists that electronic music has a place in Austin. Gramatik is a name that is known around the electronic community, but  is not very well known to anyone else. At the beginning of his performance, the crowd stretched 20 feet, and at the end it stretched 100+ feet. His performance was loud, and demanded to be heard. He mixed his odd electronic style with a local guitarist to make a sound never heard before. He is on the cusp of fame, and in a couple of more festivals, he might have his big break.


The Ultimate Winner: Outkast


I waited an hour and a half for Outkast, standing 20 feet from the stage anxiously. The skies opened up and the the opening for “B.O.B” began. After 20 years, Outkast showed no rust and gave a brilliant performance. They played all of their hits: “Roses,” “Hey Ya!,” “So Fresh, So Clean,” “Ms. Jackson,” and so many more. In between songs they would include humorous commentary. The sound quality was great from where I was standing, but further back there were some complaints. It started with Big Boi and Andre 3000 together inside a see-through cube. After a few songs Andre 3000 left to give Big Boi the stage with Sleepy Brown. Again, after a couple of songs, Big Boi left the stage for Andre 300. They were reunited once again for the last 4 songs. Overall, it was the best performance at ACL, no question.

Honorable Mentions:

Foster the People

Capital Cities (not one hit wonders)



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