Second Sunday’s American Express stage hosted some of music’s biggest names – Travis Scott, Vince Staples, Janelle Monáe – but it fell to relatively unknown opener Amber Mark to christen the day’s illustrious tone.
Donning a slick high pony and hoops, uniformed in black sequined shorts, a black bandeau, and black silk jacket, the 24-year-old singer/producer emoted strength and fragility on the center stage during the noontime hour. Taking it all in, she gently woke up the crowd with silky vocals and honeyed R&B that never weathered despite her apparent cold and congestion.
In fact, she never tired. The world citizen and longtime New Yorker waltzed from corner to corner with her hands in the air as she touched on love's inhibitions with gentle, house-inspired “Conexão” from this year’s EP of the same name. Then she picked up the energy with “Love Me Right,” her soft rasp building up the hook to onlookers’ delight as the somewhat sparse crowd waved their arms in loving approval.Even so, it was her cover of Sade’s “Love Is Stronger Than Pride,” also featured on the EP, that showcased her true talent. Adding synth and off-kilter beats to the smooth and soulful Eighties seducer, the singer seamlessly merged warm nostalgia with present day radio. “I won’t pretend that I intend to stop living,” she sang. Tangibly affirming the lyrical sentiment, Amber Mark’s ACL performance showed no signs of stillness in foreshadowing her future slot time at the other end of the festival spectrum next time through Austin.
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