Rina Sawayama and Jessie Ware also delight us with impeccable performances
Saturday of weekend two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival is hard to top. Austin was treated to incredible sets including the ones we checked out from dance queen Jessie Ware, the phenomenal Rina Sawayama, the explosive Thirty Seconds To Mars, and the band that takes the title as best of the fest (at least in our opinion) – The 1975.
The 1975 Truly At Their Very Best
People love to hate the very controversial Matty Healy. On the chilly second night of weekend two at ACL, the cheeky bloke from London was anything but controversial. Instead, we got a rather charming, refined frontman of what happens to be a very, very good band.
Shifting through their discography, The 1975 gave the very packed crowd at the Honda Stage a little bit of everything. Early on the set, they stuck to songs from their latest album Being Funny In A Foreign Language. ‘Looking For Somebody (To Love),’ ‘Happiness’ and ‘Oh Caroline’ provided a more mellow, yet exciting opening to their 16-song set. Later on, the astonishing opening riff of ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’ altered the senses and excited the multitude crammed in together to catch a glimpse of Healy and company. They also effortlessly brought things up to the festival-ready ‘The Sound,’ in what was one of the highlights of their performance.
The exquisite ballad ‘Somebody Else’ induced a heartfelt sing-a-long from those in attendance. This before closing things out on a high again with earworms like ‘Sex’ and ‘Give Yourself A Try.’
“Austin was the first place we ever played when we came to America,” Healy mentioned as he took sips from a flask and smoked a cigarette. “So this has been very special. We’ve always had fun here. Thank you.” 10/10
Thirty Seconds To Mars Did It All
It was a special effect-fest during Thirty Seconds To Mars at ACL on Saturday. Whether it was Jared Leto bungee-jumping from the rafters to kick off their performance, the never ending amount of pyro, or the variations of props sent out to the audience (black beach balls, inflatable pool donuts, and This Is War flags), the brother duo made sure it was a sight to behold.
‘Walk On Water’ and ‘Kings And Queens’ were early high points on their nine-song set. Jared took his time with each song and involved the audience as much as possible, from fist bumping the air to creating a mosh pit. He made sure it was worth seeing them opposite of the legendary Alanis Morissette across the park. At one point, he even wandered into the crowd before bringing the crowd on stage with him.
New single ‘Stuck’ fit in well with the oldies like ‘The Kill’ and ‘Closer To The Edge,’ while their other addition ‘Seasons’ felt out of place. Still, Jared performed it with pride, and gave it his all for their ACL crowd. 8/10
Rina Sawayama Wraps Her Tour At ACL
Fierce is the word to describe what Rina Sawayama gave Austin in what was her very last time performing her current show – Hold The Girl Reloaded Tour. Sporting an all-white ensemble, she appropriately opened things up with ‘Hold The Girl’ in a very dramatic sequence alongside her two dancers. ‘Catch Me In The Air’ and the pop-rock gem ‘Hurricanes’ followed.
For a festival setting, her production felt big even if it was done with minimal resources. When you are as talented as Sawayama is at performance art, a chair and some lights are more than enough. Her rawness and facial expressions enhanced crisp dance breaks throughout her songs. She made every move mean something, and gave it her all.
Not shying away from making a statement as it is the norm before her performances of ‘STFU!,’ Sawayama addressed the latest on the Texas government abortion bans. “I think they should stay the f-k away from our reproductive rights.”
She later performed the unreleased ‘Scream It In Your Heart,’ which she should release ASAP. Finishing up her set strong, Sawayama did an impromptu outfit change on stage from a white blouse and jeans to a fervid red leotard before performing ‘XS’ and the brilliant ‘This Hell.’ 9/10
Jessie Ware Turns ACL Into A Big Disco Party
British disco queen Jessie Ware brought glam, dance, and high energy to ACL. She flawlessly sang her way through a lot of tracks from her latest album That! Feels Good! ‘Begin Again’ and ‘Freak Me Now’ were early standouts during her feel-good set.
Her backup dancers and singers also joined in on the fun. The undeniable queer-influenced performance brought upon a euphoric feeling to a crowd that grew as the set went on – many attracted towards the stage by Ware’s blissful stage presence. She even led the audience through a dance-along on the very camp ‘Beautiful People.’
A cover of Cher’s ‘Believe’ further captivated the audience before Ware went into her superb ‘Free Yourself’ – which is exactly what fans did at the Honda Stage during that hour-long party. If this pointed to anything, it was that Ms. Ware needs to make her way to this side of the pond more often. 9/10