Photos + Recap: Austin City Limits 2013

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Photos + Recap: Austin City Limits 2013

Day One

It’s Austin’s busy season as Austin City Limits fans have taken over the streets of downtown, Zilker Park and Barton Springs Road in the hopes of catching glimpse of more than 150 acts from ever corner of the world.

It may be fall, but you wouldn’t know it in Texas. Day one of ACL brought face sweats and leg sticking, but that didn’t stop fans or artist from flocking in tens of thousands to the eight stages.

Friday started off strong with Wild Nothing playing at noon. I was surprised by their early set, particularly since they were one of my favorites with their very sexy, very coy opener “Shadow” off 2012’s Nocturne. Widowspeak took the Samsung Galaxy main stage at 12:45 p.m. and transitioned the crowd into the afternoon with trance-laden vocals that could melt ice.

The afternoon brought Shovels & Rope, who wasted not a second as they jumped into “Birmingham” and other southern-infused tracks. With a fiery stage presence and a devil-may-care attitude, this young band filled the stage with potent twangy energy. Houndmouth drew an enormous crowd, as they continue to do these days, and played a fantastic show that appealed to the young, the old and all those in between.

Vampire Weekend capped the supreme of what it means to draw a massive crowd as they kicked off their early evening set to a sea of screaming folks. Finally enjoying “Step” and “Diane Young” from this years Modern Vampires of the City live felt like Christmas – there were tears, there were smiles – it was a joyous occasion. As the sun set on Zilker Park, MUSE melted faces track after track with classics and new tunes. A mid-set generator pop that left the stage black for nearly five minutes didn’t stop the English rockers from turning on and up in the final minutes of the show. There were lasers – it was epic.

Day Two

View photographer Mark C. Austin’s images from the weekend in the gallery below.

The second day of Austin City Limits started off with the sun beating and ended with the deepest breeze that only oceanfronts seem to bring. The ladies of Haim killed their afternoon set. These sisters are fire right now – blazing deep into the hearts of young, hip fans and shifting their smoothing lyrical imprints into the soundscape of other artists.

José González and his band mates gave a haunting and lyrical performance. There is no comparing Junip – the excellence of these Sweed’s is rhythmically hypnotic and full to the listening ear. Grimes took stage at five, more peculiar and more bizarre live than I could ever imagine and I ate up every bit of her delicious set. From the synchronized dancing ladies (that reminded me all too well of Santigold’s on-stage dancers) and the potent energy of earnest and excitability, Claire Boucher is like an excitable kid whose only desire is to announce sweet animalistic vocals and fail around endearingly.

The Weeks’ set transitioned fans into the cooling evening, but brought the energy of the festival to soaring levels. Though on a smaller stage, there was no comparing the sheer love of music that these young Mississippi boys have. Never, ever miss a live performance from The Weeks.

Justin Vernon’s The Shouting Matches really brought album classic “Avery Hill” to life. If you enjoy the album, you’ll fall to your knees when you see the trio deliver the raw emotional power of a live performance. Hearing Justin without falsetto is my new favorite sound. And watching him wail on his electric falls into a close number two place.

Kings of Leon closed out Samsung Galaxy stage and started their hour-and-a-half set with classic “Four Kicks.” Yes, “Sex on Fire” was belted all too loud, but so were new tracks my personal favorites “Beautiful War” and “Supersoaker.” It seems these southern rockers are finally going back to their roots.

The Cure finished up the evening with a laser show and top-notch performance. I mean, good God, it’s The Cure.

Day Three

View photographer Mark C. Austin’s images from the weekend in the gallery below.

Sunday morning, the final day of the three-day march of brilliant music played in the heart of Austin started right with Foxygen. Sam France and Jonathan Rado were a frenetic delight, with a young and wildly entertaining show. MS MR’s performance was stacked and as they covered LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yrself Clean,” the crowd became tightly would around their finger – one fan proclaimed, “You just created world peace!”

Dawes was, as usual, an inspiration. The quartet was irresistible with their pull of vintage country arranged for a contemporary ear. The performance was honest and as “When My Time Comes” started that soft first rift, the crowd was standing proud, swaying in the tune.

White Denim, a favorite for many Austinites, delivered rock and roll energy with crisp and dirty vocals like that of Dan Auerbach. This band was oh so groovy from start to finish. So much in fact, a fan proposed to his lady in the middle of the crowd.

The evening moved on and Grouplove’s energy was stellar, an out-of-this-world experience. We caught the girls of Grouplove and MS MR backstage while Tame Impala was delivering psych goodness rich enough for the gods. Climbing a large cinderblock to see the Australian hypno-groove melodic rock, it was clear even artists were only here to jam in the presence of the shining engine that is Tame Impala.

The sun set on Phoenix and the masterpiece the French natives create unfolded. The bottom line: this beloved band delivers. Delivering an incredibly personal performance in front of 60,000 people is challenging to achieve and yet, Thomas Mars smooth vocals cut to the back of the crowd with an effortlessly cool demeanor. Phoenix was easily the best in show of the Sunday roundup.

Atoms for Peace capped off the night, and the performance was perhaps everything a Thom Yorke fan could every want: smoke, Yorke vocals and the hyper-modern supergroup ripping and rocking into the final hour of the night.

That’s a wrap. See you next weekend, ACL.

View photographer Mark C. Austin’s images from the weekend in the gallery below.