Faster Than Sound: Lizzo City Limits
“Truth Hurts” star’s historic audience, and other ACL Fest weekend one standouts
Multiverse moment, cultural signifier, clusterfuck; call it what you will, but Lizzo's Sunday night ACL Fest crowd proved absolutely massive. The Houston-raised supersonic star called it her biggest festival viewership ever, estimating 60,000 people via Instagram the next day. Others deemed it the Zilker Park annual's largest non-headliner crowd, causing major lockup at the show's mid-level Miller Lite stage.
Of course, Sept. 2017 sleeper hit "Truth Hurts" hadn't yet begun its April 2019 revival via Netflix rom-com Someone Great when the Detroit-born Melissa Jefferson appeared on the labyrinth festival lineup. As the singer/flutist announced onstage, it's now the "number one song in the country, bitch!"
On social media, fans called for swapping to a bigger platform for weekend two. At the very least, streaming on the Honda stage jumbotrons would help, as Lizzo's sing-along army stretched well beyond the ACL flags. Outside the self-love icon's weekend one takeover, here's what else happened:
Ahead of her Saturday evening set, bestselling 2019 entity Billie Eilish tested the structural integrity of ACL's new interview-oriented Bonus Tracks stage. Fans hung over fences and perched on parental shoulders to view the conversation with Stephen Thompson of NPR's All Songs Considered, muffled by tween screams. Thompson attempted to keep the interview on track, inquiring, "Do you dream of being a mogul?" The unfazed 17-year-old replied, "What the hell is that? Isn't that some kind of chimp?" before abandoning the public radio format for fan questions and a few hugs.
Tierra Whack's Big Giveaway
In a flurry of funny non sequiturs, surreal Philly rapper Tierra Whack inquired if it was anyone's birthday at her late-starting but well-attended ACL Fest performance last Saturday. One celebrant requested the colorful Nikes off her feet, which she delivered after final track "Unemployed." Whack also tossed a snatched staff badge into the fold. "Noah, you work here now," the artist decided of the recipient. "You can do whatever the fuck you want."
Oliver Tree Gets the Boot
An attendant in hospital scrubs wheeled out Cali oddball Oliver Tree's wheelchair before a rabid, teen-fronted Tito's tent audience last Friday. "I do all my own stunts," said the human meme of his foot injury, mentioning a hoverboard accident. Throughout, the singer's cinematographer asked audience members to say, "WTF?" or look confusedly at the camera, likely for one of Tree's viral mockumentaries.
Ladi Earth Pulls It Off
After Sam Fender dropped out due to illness, local rapper Ladi Earth (aka Michaela Taylor) booked the Vrbo stage on just a day's notice. With an overnight deadline, the airy vocalist rounded up four friends for a spooky, bondage-clad séance on opening "Water." Visits from local MC Paris Flacko and pop singer Chickoo seamlessly filled the big platform, and Taylor's sex-positive banter on "Pussy Mouf" definitely earned new fans.
Fishing for Idles
A scorching Sunday afternoon visit from UK punks Idles followed a sold-out night show at Mohawk. Attempting to re-create the crowd-entering tumult on Red River, the band's crew hustled to cast singer Joe Talbot's mic cable across the mainstage gap. Guitarist Mark Bowen, wearing Texas flag trunks, had a harder time, eventually chunking his instrument in frustration over frequent unplugging. Wire tangles only added to the Englishmen's punchy, chant-along charm.
After Lizzo insanity, an expansive herd shifted to the neighboring Honda stage for Cardi B's 8pm headline. The Bronx star kept fans waiting for 30 minutes, prompting boos, but eventually came through for a full 50 minutes of twerking theatrics, iconic Cardi quips, and hits including boogaloo-sampling "I Like It."
Chunky white sneakers reigned, especially of the Nike Air Force 1 variety. Spanish pop riser Rosalía's backup dancers nailed the festie ideal, matching the shoes with bike shorts and puff-sleeve crops. Meanwhile, I couldn't make it across the park without encountering 10 editions of "The Exercise Dress" by local athleisure machine Outdoor Voices.
T-shirt Tally: Jack White donned Daniel Johnston's landmark friendly frog on his front with the Raconteurs, while Axl Rose incorporated an Alamo Drafthouse "Badass Cinema" tee throughout multiple, comically subtle outfit changes. Slash stuck with the Rolling Stones.
Heart on Your Head: Fans pledged allegiance with double space buns for Billie Eilish, novelty cowgirl caps at Kacey Musgraves, and wedding veils to reference Lizzo's "Truth Hurts" vid.
Best Custom Getups: Weyes Blood revealed namesake embroidery on her suit jacket before removing it with flourish, and King Princess sassed with 69 bedazzled on her jumpsuit butt.
Look Out for Weekend Two
With the long-awaited arrival of Texas autumn temps, Hot Girl Summer technically comes to a close. The self-empowerment concept spread like wildfire from the mouth of Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion, a growing cultural force and the first woman rapper on 300 Entertainment. She also parodied a Hot Girl Fall concept recently on Fallon. Following a local stop last month with Meek Mill, 24-year-old Megan Pete hits the Miller Lite stage Saturday at 1:15pm.
Sunday, Swedish pop legacy Robyn replaces Cardi B's weekend one headline. On the indie circuit, masked country crooner Orville Peck (Sat., 12:30pm, Honda stage) and British Americana soul siren Yola (Sun., 2:45pm, Tito's stage) bring serious buzz. Sourced locally, Blackillac follows up a weekend one takeover at the Black Pistol Fire set with their own festival slot (Sat., 11:45am, Vrbo stage), UT dropout Sloan Struble stops by during his first tour as bedroom pop breakout Dayglow (Sat., 3pm, BMI stage), and Ley Line airs trilingual new track "Oxum" (Sun., 12:45pm, Tito's stage).
Lil Uzi Vert dropped out just hours ahead of his Friday set last weekend. ACL announced the unpredictable Philly phenom's cancellation around 2pm, slotting Jai Wolf for a 6pm encore to his earlier Zilker Park appearance. The fest-evading rapper is still scheduled for weekend two.
The Venue ATX, situated on Sixth, began selling tickets last month for a non-ACL affiliated performance by Atlanta rapper 21 Savage. Booked for the evening of his official festival set, the Facebook event later updated to read: "Despite the Venue ATX having a contract with a promoter and deposit in place with 21 Savage, he is unable to perform due to arrangements outside both parties' control." Ever heard of a non-compete clause?
Gone paperless: Upping sustainability efforts, the ACL Fest no longer offers paper schedules/maps this year. The move routes users to the event's official app, which proved arduous in the glaring sun. ACL also posted the schedule image on Twitter each morning, formatted for saving as your phone's lock screen.