Austin City Limits 2014: Blue Skies, Loud Music, and Packed Crowds

Austin City Limits 2014
October 3–5

Zilker Park
Austin, Texas

With the 2014 festival season slowly coming to a close, Austin City Limits provided fans with a good final blowout. While the lineup has shifted genres a bit in recent years—adding more EDM and hip-hop acts—ACL veterans still had plenty of rock-and-roll favorites to enjoy during the weekend ranging from Pearl Jam and Interpol to Beck and The Replacements. It’s this embracement of musical diversity that has kept the festival going strong for the last twelve years (even after the addition of the second weekend a couple of years ago). With plenty of acts and stages to choose from, scheduling conflicts became a common and unsolvable problem. But having the toughest choice of the weekend being between world-class music and a well-stocked, excellent beer garden, life is pretty good. This year, the perfect Austin weather also provided a better start for festivalgoers than last year’s not-so-lucky fans who had the last day of the second weekend cancelled due to flash flood warnings. Not a bad thing to have when you’re waiting out by those stages for your favorite bands to play. Kicking it off right, Weekend One:

St. Vincent | Photo by Pooneh Ghana

St. Vincent / Photo by Pooneh Ghana

St. Vincent
Friday, October 3 | 5:15–6:15 p.m.

If there was anyone that could get the crowd going early, it was the Dallas, Texas–raised singer-songwriter-goddess Annie Clark. Her band’s heavy synths, dance beats, and precise guitar riffs were enough to get even first-timers dancing in the hot sun. With nods to “Keep Austin Weird” and the triumph of the human spirit between songs, St. Vincent captured the festival’s optimistic energy within her set.

Belle and Sebastian
Friday, October 3 | 7:15–8:15 p.m.

Stuart Murdoch and company led a bouncy Austin crowd in a fun-filled show diving into their massively catchy discography. Fans couldn’t help but sing along to hits including the breezy “Another Sunny Day” off of 2006’s The Life Pursuit and the clap-inducing “The Boy with the Arab Strap.” Some lucky ones even got to take their singing and dancing “talents” onstage.

Belle and Sebastian | Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Belle and Sebastian / Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Friday, October 3 | 8:15–9:30 p.m.

Beck came out of the gates focused and energetic. He ran through classic cuts like “Loser” early before slowing things down a bit, playing tracks from this year’s Morning Phase. With such a large library of songs to choose from, Beck closed the set in perfect form with “Debra” from 1999’s Midnite Vultures and “Where It’s At” from 1996’s Odelay.  Despite sitting in a competing time slot against festival headliners Outkast, those that decided on sticking with Beck definitely got an amazing experience with memories to cherish forever.

Mac DeMarco
Saturday, October 4 | 1:30–2:30 p.m.

The twenty-four year old Canadian singer-songwriter brought the laughs early in the day. While fans could easily stay for his comical stage presence alone, DeMarco’s laid-back and dreamy songs hypnotized a sizeable crowd. Dressed with his signature cap, he graced listeners with old favorites and tracks from his latest full-length, Salad Days.

Mac DeMarco | Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Mac DeMarco / Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Saturday, October 4 | 3:30–4:30 p.m.

Merrill Garbus seemed truly happy and grateful during her afternoon performance. This calm demeanor shined through as the indie-pop artist, along with Nate Brenner on bass, brought an energetic set full of experimental songs from her discography. While many listeners may not have known what to expect, by the end of the vibrant show the crowd was clearly going to start spinning their tUnE-yArDs records again when they got home.

Saturday, October 4 | 4:30–5:30 p.m.

In one of the most questionable scheduling decisions from the fest, Interpol still commanded the stage and huge group of fans in the early afternoon slot. Despite the sun beating down on their usual dark, dapper attire, the alt-rock group was all smiles during their set. They treated fans to the best they had to offer including “Evil,” “Slow Hands,” and “NYC.” Needless to say, fans sang all lyrics at the top of their lungs.

Interpol | Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Interpol / Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Sunday, October 5 | 3–4 p.m.

Performing for a young, but quite large crowd, singer Madeline Follin seemed very much at home on stage. Staying cool in a summer dress, she swayed through the New York duo’s Sunday afternoon set alongside Brian Oblivion, allowing the cheerful energy of their tracks to fill the festival field. Infectious in every way, Cults’ performance paved the perfect path for fans to follow the pair to a meet-and-greet later that day.

Jenny Lewis
Sunday, October 5 | 5–6 p.m.

Jenny Lewis was also victim to one of the weekend’s most difficult scheduling conflicts, up against both Phantogram and Real Estate. Still, it was no bother considering the LA native was the best fit for the Austin crowd with her signature style of indie twang heard especially on her latest album, The Voyager. She took command of her stage, entertaining the audience with her sunny disposition and vast collection of songs from Rilo Kiley, Jenny and Johnny, and her solo efforts, all in a colorful and gorgeous pantsuit.

Sunday, October 5 | 7–8 p.m.

With the end of the festival approaching, dance-pop veterans Chromeo gave the crowd some serious dance music to keep the celebrations intact as the weekend waned. They livened things up with their mix of club-ready sounds (along with intense lighting theatrics) as people gathered around for the sunset performance. Playing a mix of old favorites and new tunes from White Women, they got the perfect groove going to keep festivalgoers on their feet all night.


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