Day one of weekend two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival had festival-goers nervous. Not just because of the very public threat around the world from ongoing conflict in the Middle East, but also (more realistically) because of the disastrous first weekend which saw Kali Uchis drop out just days before the festival and Kendrick Lamar get cut off after being late. Here’s what went down with those two things as well as notes on the very, very different sets by RAYE and Nessa Barrett.
Kendrick Lamar Starts On Time
After the huge fiasco that was his weekend one performance, Kendrick Lamar made sure he was on time for his headlining slot this second weekend. He more than made up for it as he brilliantly shuffled through some of the greatest cuts in his catalog like ‘m.A.A.d city,’ ‘HUMBLE,’ and ‘Money Trees.’ Pyro, strobe lights, and synchronized dancers brought his rapping to life throughout the energetic set. “I will be back,” he affirmed – closing out the set with a very interesting, but workable two-punch of ‘Alright’ and ‘Savior.’ 9/10.
Major Lazer Come Through Twice
Who knew we would all rely on Diplo one day? Filling in for Kali Uchis again on weekend two, Major Lazer turned up the heat on an already hot Texas day. It was an interesting act to squeeze in between Lil Yachty and Kendrick Lamar, but festival-goers seemed to love it. Speaking of Diplo, many in the crowd seemed oblivious to him being in the trio until fellow DJ Walshy Fire called out his name. “Diplo?” a man was overheard saying. “Diplo,” another responded as the beat dropped. 8/10.
RAYE Delivers Very Honest Set
“I’m a very honest person,” RAYE declared, more than a few times throughout her excellent set Friday afternoon at the Honda stage. The release of her breakthrough debut album My 21st Century Blues has elevated her in the best of ways. A talent that was suppressed by a lousy record label in the past, RAYE mixed emotive storytelling with spine-tingling vocals on songs like ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ and the tear-inducing ‘Ice Cream Man.’ She wrapped things up with her 070 Shake-assisted hit single ‘Escapism’ – leaving Austinites wanting even more. 9/10.
Nessa Barrett Goes Through The Motions
Perhaps it was the scorching heat, but Nessa Barrett did the bare minimum. She paced around the stage a few times, but mostly stuck around close to the mic stand. A few “hellos” and “thank yous” here and there, with a shy smile attached to them, were the only times she really made some sort of connection to the audience. Her ser was uninspiring at best as she made her way through songs that require more emotion like ‘tired of california’ and ‘fuckmarrykill.’ It was only during the raging ‘BANG BANG!’ that something seemed to awaken her. Maybe she had intrusive thoughts about performing? 6/10.