Like those before it, 2018’s Austin City Limits Music Festival provided a tourist-friendly taste of the Austin music scene, replacing the small and local acts with international headliners for profit’s sake. Still, the expert coordination of the Austin City Limits team and the inclusion of local acts and businesses meant that attendees took part in an enjoyable, memorable, albeit somewhat generic festival experience.
The Lanier Viking Voice sent three staff writers, along with a chaperone, to the second Friday. Most recognizable among the acts performing on that day were Texas natives and self-professed “hardest-working boyband in show business” BROCKHAMPTON, who performed a two-hour high-energy set starting at 6:45 PM.
Hours before Friday’s two biggest headliners performed, the Honda stage was home to Khalid and The National, who played in succession to a massive and energetic crowd. Khalid played some of his original hits, debuted some of his newer songs, and ended his set with some never-before-heard tracks Khalid kept the whole crowd hyped and singing along, giving his audience a great experience. Before him, however, a Los Angeles band known as Sir Sly, who boast an impressive 1.12 million monthly Spotify listeners(1), caught the attention of many at the festival. Despite the number of fans online, many attendees were not aware of Sir Sly before their set. However, their time slot was at the perfect point to draw a crowd, playing in between British electro-pop singer Lily Allen and the aforementioned BROCKHAMPTON, attracting many otherwise unfamiliar concertgoers with their radio hits “High” and “&Run”, two soft-rock songs punctuated by fuzzy bass and lead singer Landon Jacobs’ melodic monotone delivery.
After roaring applause from a sizable crowd, the Miller Lite stage lit up with San Marcos’ own hip-hop boy band BROCKHAMPTON’s aggressive, thumping entrance to their song “NEW ORLEANS,” followed up by chart hit “BOOGIE,” before the members finally addressed the crowd. Frontman Kevin Abstract’s trademark crowd call of “Is everyone okay?”(2) was met with cheers. Toward the end of the set, the audience spent no less than a minute repeating the chorus to “BLEACH”, in a call-and-response that demonstrated just how invested ACL attendees really can be.
Filling the next time slot at a different stage was Paul McCartney, a man who should need no introduction. McCartney performed a number of classic Beatles tracks, along with a few songs from his post-Beatles band, Wings. He drew a crowd so large it enveloped another (thankfully unoccupied) stage. Even at his age, the legend was able to rock the younger generations that were not able to see him in his prime and the people who were there at the start. McCartney hyped the crowd even more with the use of pyrotechnics and strobe lights throughout his performance. Since there were no other acts playing during his performance, everyone who was attending had their attention captured by McCartney, causing the crowd to overtake another stage, the concessions area, and the Barton Springs beer hall. In between most songs, McCartney talked about how each song was written and the shenanigans that he and his band mates got into over how to play the songs. When asked about the performance, staff writer Hector Machuca said, “I’ve been a fan of the Beatles for the past four years. I am so happy I was able to see such an influential and historical person.”
Multiple stands and concession booths were set up for patrons to eat, drink, and hydrate throughout the day. Parents were able to have a quick getaway to an area near the Barton Springs Entrance for anything that their small children needed. like diaper changing stations, water fountains, and cool-shaded resting places at the Austin Kiddie Limits area. The area was full of kid-friendly activities, like drawing, painting, upcycling, and playing with self-made instruments. The Kiddie Limits stage featured acts like the top students from the School of Rock, a school where young children can learn how to play instruments, hand Ralph’s World, a group lead by Ralph Covert that plays rock and roll songs with kid-friendly lyrics. Parents could also register their children at the Tag-A-Kid tent in case of accidental separation.