Best Live Acts From ACL 2018
Austin City Limits wrapped up its second weekend during the middle of October, and this year’s lineup was stellar as always. The festival always hosts world-class acts, as well as tons of nationally touring bands and artists. Metallica and Paul McCartney were two of the most prolific headliners this year. Their performances certainly drew people from all over the country. But there’s more to ACL than just the headliners. There were also some hidden gems in this year’s lineup that made the festival enjoyable from start to finish. Let’s take a look at some of the best live acts from this year’s Austin City Limits.
Smino garnered attention on the national stage for the first when while opening for the five-time Grammy-nominated SZA last year. His debut album blkswn was filled with soulful R&B hits. His live performance featured a full jazz band that carried his presence on stage to new heights. Smino sings over groovy bass lines with ease. The energy of the live band and backup singers created an atmosphere that was ripe for dancing.
Parquets Courts are a rock band by trade, but their experimental nature makes it hard to draw an accurate comparison to another band. They started in 2010, playing every show they could in the Brooklyn area until releasing their debut album in 2012. Since then, Parquet Courts has been off to the races with national tour efforts and six full-length albums in the past eight years. Their beats are fast-paced and noisy, reminiscent of 90’s punk at times. Other times, they’re upbeat and catchy like pop. Always striving to experiment, they did a single with Houston rapper Bun B in 2016. They’ve been described as dance-punk, which is an accurate depiction of their live performance. One song people are headbanging away, and the next everyone is shucking and jiving.
One of our favorite international acts at this year’s ACL, Alvvays is an infectiously catchy indie-pop outfit. After forming in 2011, the band spent much of their early years touring through Canada and the East Coast. They didn’t release their self-titled debut album until 2014, but the release and following tours garnered them enough success to pick up the band as a full-time job for the first time. After several nationwide tours, the band released their second LP Antisocialites, which was met with rave reviews. Their pop melodies are sung by the very talented Molly Rankin. Her voice is beautiful during a live performance. “Marry Me, Archie” is a fan favorite, and half the crowd usually loses their voice while it’s played.
Okay, Travis isn’t a hidden gem by any means, seeing as he closed out the festival Sunday night. Regardless, his live performance is worth catching even if you aren’t a fan. Travis puts a lot of thought into his live performance (maybe more thought goes into his live performance than his lyrics) and it creates an experience with energy from start to finish. House-made visuals cover the stage and distort the images of Travis. Fire cannons erupt with the bass drops, and Travis is screaming his lyrics with untamed ferocity. I imagine it’s hard to not know the words to “Sicko Mode” at this point, so you can rage along to that one at least.