TV on the Radio was especially in phenomenal form, serving as fine set-up for the would-be greatness that was expected to shortly follow their own funked-up indie party jams.
Unfortunately, Stevie Wonder's set largely came off like trying to hold a conversation on a cell phone in a loud, crowded room.
In other words: It was quiet. Incredibly so, actually -- about half the volume of Kanye West's set-closing performance on the same Bud Light stage the night before. The back speakers were barely on, it seemed.
The crowd tried not to notice as much; their response to Wonder's opening "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" performance and his not-long-after cover offering of Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" drew enthusiastic responses from the crowds up front.
By the back of the crowd -- which started off similar in size to that of West's -- it was a different, quite-muted story, and one made only worse by the fact that, on the opposite end of Zilker Park, My Morning Jacket was blaring at top volume. By the time My Morning Jacket had launched into Circuital lead single "Holding On To Black Metal," the crowd took the obvious hint: It was over at the AMD stage where the party was truly at.
It wasn't a mass exodus that followed, but it wasn't a small one either. It was large enough, if nothing else, that the few people trying to walk up late to Stevie Wonder's couldn't ignore the bad signs laid out before them.
"Oh, man," one exhausted-looking patron remarked. "This can't be a good thing."
It wasn't; at that very moment, Wonder, who too appeared frustrated with the sound and the crowd's lack of extreme reaction, was engaged in a particularly bare-bones jazzy portion of his set. It was a bad combination.
Meanwhile, at the AMD stage, My Morning Jacket looked -- and sounded -- like the real heroes.
After their set ended, Wonder's seemed to pick up somewhat with "For Once In My Life," the kickoff to an impressive end-of-set greatest hits run. But, by then, the damaged had been done.
A sign that ACL's older demographic-aimed features ways are becoming a thing of the past? Maybe not, but perhaps a sign that they should be.
Sets like Wonder's, if they're going to succeed at all, certainly won't have much luck of faring well if they're going to be treated like his set was last night.
Sets like My Morning Jacket's on the other hand aren't likely to fail. Maybe ever.
Lesson learned, ACL.
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