Austin City Limits provides mecca for Tulane fall breakers

David Preda, Online Arcade Editor Laura Rostad

Over Fall Break, The Arcade set its sights on Austin, Texas for one of the nation’s top music festivals, Austin City Limits. Situated in Austin’s beautiful Zilker Park, Austin City Limits is a two-weekend festival spanning six days total of live performances, delicious eats, transcendental art experiences and all-around good vibes. Austin City Limits is a hot destination for Tulane students to visit each year as it usually coincides with Fall Break, and there was definitely a presence of Tulane students at the festival this year. Over the course of the three days the Arcade attended, we spotted at least three Tulane flags waving all across the festival grounds. Check out our highlights and lowlights below.

HIGHLIGHTS

CHVRCHES uses unembellished stage to exemplify talent

Scottish synth-pop trio CHVRCHES took the Honda Stage at 4:15 p.m. Friday at Austin City Limits Music Festival, proving that stage presence is not everything when it comes to a live show. With a simple backdrop banner emblazoned with the band name and a smattering of silver glitter shimmering under singer Lauren Mayberry’s eyes as she twirls the microphone cord center stage, the performance was certainly subdued. Though the stage was set with flashing lights, the sun remained high in the sky for the entirety of the set, eliminating their effect.

Despite the undramatic backdrop, the band still performed brilliantly. With a strong body of work on its debut album “The Bones of What You Believe,”  band sang and while the crowd danced to the more well-known songs like “Recover” and “The Mother We Share,” but still held the crowd’s attention during its lesser known works. The show’s peak came with a performance of a new song under the working title “Richard Pryor.”

CHVRCHES proved that talent and fun go hand-in-hand. Mid-set, Mayberry commented on the Austin heat, claiming that “it’s hot as dog’s balls” on stage. When Martin Doherty took center stage for vocals on “Under the Tide,” he contrasted nicely with Mayberry’s performance style, jumping around and flailing his arms as he sang. While the band’s performance style may need more work to attract a more conventional audience, CHVRCHES live is a force to be reckoned with.

The Avett Brothers impassioned performance stirs fans

There was no stopping Seth Avett’s long, brown hair as it shook and twirled across the Honda Stage.

Despite the swamps of mud their fans were forced to trek through, the Avett Brothers’ lively and passionate performance attracted a massive crowd. Seth and Scott Avett rotated between lead vocals, while simultaneously rocking out on the banjo and guitar, respectively. The group actively shared the stage with many musicians, including cello, fiddle, bass, drums and at times piano.

The set list featured songs from a variety of albums, such as: “I And Love And You,” “Country Blues,” “Slight Figure of Speech” and “Live and Die.”

Every band member bounced, danced and swayed throughout the particularly energetic rendition of “Go To Sleep.” The Avett Brothers invited the crowd to participate and sing along, which combined with the friendly atmosphere of the festival to inspire several impromptu swing dance circles. The good-natured folk rock ambiance was visibly emulated amongst the fans.

Though The Avett Brothers has gained much popularity and notoriety in recent years, its live performance maintained the folk vibes in which founded the band’s base a decade ago. The group appeared honest and impassioned, just like the lyrics they sang.

Lorde engages crowds despite youth

At only 17 years old, Lorde drew one of the largest crowds to her performance on Sunday night at the RetailMeNot Stage. She slunk awkwardly onto the stage as her band performed an extended introduction to “Tennis Court,” seemingly reinforcing fears that she would be too awkward to captivate a crowd even half the size of the one she drew. Immediately as she began crooning, however, she rid the audience of that fear.

Lorde’s vocals were strong and the entire set was arguably more engaging than her album, “Pure Heroine,” adding amped up beats and lengthened instrumental interludes. As she performed, she lashed around on stage, utilizing the full space to her advantage. Before closing her set with an altogether stunning performance of her hit single “Team,” she gave the Austin City Limits audience a one-of-a-kind performance of “Yellow Flicker Beat,” the newest song she’s written for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1.” With an array of colored lights flashing throughout her set, Lorde ensured that her show was both visibly and audibly engaging.

Lucius fuses rock and folk into a powerful pop set

From the instant that vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig appeared on the Austin Ventures stage clad in matching ensembles, they commanded the attention of the crowd. Backed by instrumentalists Andrew Burri, Peter Lalish and Dan Molad, Lucius set fire to the stage with a high-energy performance, entrancing the audience with its symmetrical formation and dynamic stage presence. Wolfe and Laessig belted out soulful, rich harmonies while taking turns playing drums, keyboards and tambourine.

The bulk of Lucius’ set list derived from its debut album “Wildewoman,” which lies somewhere along the blurred lines of pop, rock and folk. Lucius’ music escapes simple categorization, but its sound relies heavily on the powerful female vocals and percussion.

Towards the end of its set, the group surprised and excited fans by inviting Jonathon Russell and Josiah Johnson from the Head and the Heart to perform a collaborated version of “How Loud Your Heart Gets.”

Other favorite song performances included the upbeat “Tempest” and “Hey, Doreen,” but even slower-paced songs like “Until We Get There” and “Wildewoman” were executed with the vitality of a strong pop performance.

LOWLIGHTS

Lana Del Rey draws intoxicated crowd

Her combination of melancholy music and marijuana references, Lana Del Rey audience might would be one of the most passive imaginable, as the crowd the pop star gathered at her performance at dusk Saturday on the Samsung Galaxy Stage was quite the exact opposite as possible. From the beginning of the set, it was evident the crowd was inebriated in some form or another. Girls screamed to each other, and a middle-aged trio exchanged some sort of ground-up substance from a man’s hand. When Del Rey took the stage, the crowd surged forward in a futile attempt to get closer to the singer, shoving past others with no regard for personal space.

While Del Rey herself put on a wonderful performance, strutting around the stage while flashing images of religious symbols and 1960s-inspired Americana, her low, soft voice was nearly impossible to hear over the screams of an unruly, intoxicated crowd.

Zedd fails to close out weekend on a strong note

From afar, Zedd’s Sunday night performance at the MillerLite stage was a spectacle. Color-changing, fiery bursts of smoke continuously reappeared on the front edge of the stage. The screen behind the lone DJ screamed words and illuminated bright, hypnotic visuals. Strobe lights continuously flashed. 

Zedd attracted a huge crowd, but up close Zedd’s fans were huddled together at the front of the stage, to dance, to sing and to cheer on the one man act.

While it’s understandable that ACL wanted to include a variety of artists in its line up, the festival could have featured more progressive electronic rather than straight forward house.

As a house DJ, Zedd fulfilled necessary qualifications. Deep bass and synths propelled his set forward. Suspenseful drops kept everyone’s hands in the air. Pauses in the vocals allowed fans to shout repetitive lyrics in unison. Above all else, Zedd was a perfect transition into the night’s closer, fellow DJ Calvin Harris. 

But after a weekend filled with extremely talented musicians, singers, and performers, Zedd simply felt inadequate in comparison. 

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