Concert Reviews

Kacey Musgraves, The Chicks, Lil Nas X, Paramore and the Best of ACL Fest 2022 Week 1

Lil Nas X brought all the high drama we expected to ACL.
Lil Nas X brought all the high drama we expected to ACL. Rachel Parker
Austin City Limits Fest kicked off the first of two weekends this past Friday with a crammed three-days of shows at Zilker Park.

The first act we saw was up-and-comer (and Plano native) Gayle, who rocked out on the stage, jamming on her bass in one of the most energetic sets of the weekend. The crowd went wild when she finally performed her viral hit song “abcdefu.”
click to enlarge
Jazmine Sullivan got us all mellow.
Rachel Parker

Jazmine Sullivan had a fierce yet sultry set on the Honda mainstage. She was a pleasant surprise, serenading the audience with fantastic vocals. It was a good set for early fest-goers to relax and vibe out.
click to enlarge
Jazmine Sullivan was a whole vibe on Friday.
Rachel Parker

A New Zealander musician named Benee took over on the T-Mobile stage with a thoroughly enjoyable performance. While her stage presence can be awkward at times, it was apparent she was genuinely having fun, bopping from one end of the stage to the other.
click to enlarge
Benee
Rachel Parker

James Blake was next up on the Honda Stage. Those of us unfamiliar with his music probably assumed he'd be worth checking since he was given such a good time slot on one of the main stages. This was a mistake. While he’s a good-looking guy, his music all sounded the same. The ironic part is, it’s not bad. It’s a cool electronic vibe, but it's not worth listening to the same drum beat for an hour.
click to enlarge
Benee was a standout on Friday.
Rachel Parker

After trudging through that set, we bounced on over to the Barton Springs stage to catch a personal favorite, Carly Rae Jepsen. Her stage was decorated with clouds and stars, which you'd know is appropriate if you’re familiar with Jepson’s work beyond “Call Me Maybe.” 
click to enlarge
James Blake needs to switch up the beat.
Rachel Parker
Jepsen put on what was easily one of the best sets at the first weekend of the festival. Organizers might have really underestimated the demand for her performance, as people were spilling out of the primary viewing area and into the street meant for golf carts. It’s the most packed we’ve ever seen that stage.
click to enlarge
Carly Rae Jepsen had a bigger crowd than ACL anticipated.
Rachel Parker

We ended the Friday concert night over at The American Express Stage for Dallas’ own “The Chicks.” The trio kicked the show off with "Sin Wagon," jamming out and taking in the massive crowd that turned up. While their set was heavy with tunes from their latest Gaslighter, and on politics, at this point in their career, if you go to a Chicks show you know exactly what you’re getting. But the trio are no rookies when it comes to touring, and packed the last half of their set with their hits. Closing out the show with their biggest hit, "Goodbye Earl."
click to enlarge
Carly Rae Jepsen has a whole career outside of "Call Me Maybe," in case you didn't know.
Rachel Parker

Saturday was an even hotter one at Zilker. At the Miller Lite stage, Slayyyter whipped her braid around while wearing a fur coat, singing electronic pop. It was good for dancing, but there wasn't much depth to her set.
click to enlarge
Carly Rae Jepsen
Rachel Parker

Around 2 p.m., The Midnight brought their brand of '80s synth pop to the American Express stage, sax solos and all. Their tunes were excellent and are worth checking out, however their stage presence still needs some work.
click to enlarge
Carly Rae Jepsen
Rachel Parker

Next up was Role Model at T-Mobile. The singer was full of energy, running from one side to the other, bouncing around and eating up all the attention from the girls screaming in the front row. He stopped at one point to give a spiel about winning over people who were only at his set because their friend, family or significant other wanted to be there. It was a bit reminiscent of Jason Lee’s whole speech in Almost Famous and came off, perhaps unintentionally, a little arrogant. Role Model's music is just OK. It sounds very much like everything else on the radio right now.
click to enlarge
The Chicks' Natalie Maines at ACL.
Rachel Parker

The BMI stage featured Charlotte Sands, a fun pop-punk singer who was encouraging everyone to stay hydrated and rock out. She would do well on Warped Tour, if it still existed.
click to enlarge
The Chicks
Rachel Parker

Next up on the Honda Main stage was Conan Gray, a Texan out of Georgetown with quite the following. His voice is often too pitchy, but his songwriting is good and his stage presence is great. It's clear why he’s blowing up.
click to enlarge
Slayyyter really did Slay.
Rachel Parker
Sister duo Aly and AJ closed out the BMI stage on Saturday and their crowd was massive. In this case, it was more than clear the festival underestimated the draw they would have. Their music has definitely evolved from their bubblegum Radio Disney days.
click to enlarge
The Midnight played synth pop, complete with sax solos.
Rachel Parker

As the sun started to set, it was time for the set to catch for the weekend, Lil Nas X in all his Montero Tour glory. His show was filled with backup dancers, outfit changes and hit after hit. It was an absolute spectacle; the only downside was the awkward lull during the outfit changes — surely due to the quick change area being further than it would be during his tour. Nonetheless, the legend of Lil Nas X continues to grow.
click to enlarge
Role Model got a little cocky this weekend.
Rachel Parker

The evening was nightcapped with Diplo’s show. But on this scale it felt like a glorified wedding DJ set. It was unclear why he wasn’t headlining and doing more of his actual songs. But who knows, maybe his DJ set was actually fire, and we were too worn out to appreciate it.
click to enlarge
Conan Gray is blowing up for good reason.
Rachel Parker

The heat didn’t let up on Sunday, with another sweltering day at the arena and another day of hot performances.
click to enlarge
Conan Gray put on a show at ACL.
Rachel Parker

Jake Wesley Rogers kicked things off with a surprisingly fun set of piano-driven pop, which is kind of what you would expect knowing he’s opening for Panic at the Disco right now. Expect to see more of him. Remember the name.
click to enlarge
Aly and AJ still carry their fandom from the early 2000s.
Rachel Parker

Around 3 p.m., we popped over to see British singer PinkPantheress. She was bubbly and fun, but we were left disappointed when it was clear she was lip-syncing along to pre-recorded track.
click to enlarge
Charlotte Sands was a standout at ACL.
Rachel Parker

Austin favorites Spoon jammed out on the Honda Stage at 4 p.m, giving us flashbacks of the TV show The O.C. when they played “The Way We Get By.” Lead singer Britt Daniel absolutely rocked out and soaked up the energy from the audience.
click to enlarge
Lil Nas X brought all the high drama we expected to ACL.
Rachel Parker

We had to catch the much buzzed about Japanese Breakfast, playing the T-Mobile stage. Michelle Zauner and the band had mesmerizing stage presence — there’s just something entertaining about watching someone bang on a giant gong — and Zauner's airy voice adds a rad quality to the group's sound.
click to enlarge
Lil Nas X was as entertaining as ever this weeken,d
Rachel Parker

At 6 p.m. the Honda stage hosted one of the most anticipated sets. Paramore. After a four year hiatus, it was good to see them back on stage. Hayley Williams jumped around flipping her hair around like she’s still 19. The rest of us would need too many Advils. The real highlight of their set, however, was Paramore Grandpa, a 60-something gentleman in the crowd dancing his ass off to "Ain’t it Fun," winning entirely at life. 
click to enlarge
Paramore's Hayley Williams brought the energy to ACL.
Rachel Parker
click to enlarge
Paramore should get in on a hair product deal.
Rachel Parker
Paramore made way on the Honda stage for East Texan Kacey Musgraves, who entered the stage performing "Star-Crossed" from her latest album by the same title, as a star-filled sky appeared on the screen behind her. The country star eased into her mellow set, which was a split of songs from Star-Crossed and Golden Hour
click to enlarge
Kacey Musgraves did Texas proud this weekend.
Rachel Parker
The only song from her debut album to make an appearance was “Merry Go 'Round,” which is a shame. More than a few of us probably wanted to hear more from that album. It was a good set, but it definitely could have used some more energy, and was in stark contrast to the Red Hot Chili Peppers set closing out Sunday on the other end of Zilker Park.
click to enlarge
Kacey Musgraves played her newer hits on Sunday.
Rachel Parker
click to enlarge
Diplo should've played earlier.
Rachel Parker
click to enlarge
Lil Nas X.
Rachel Parker
click to enlarge
Jake Wesley Rogers was a name to remember this weekend.
Rachel Parker
click to enlarge
ACL was totally worth the overpriced parking.
Rachel Parker
click to enlarge
Pink Panthress had a great ACL set.
Rachel Parker
click to enlarge
Spoon fed us what we wanted at ACL.
Rachel Parker
click to enlarge
Japanese Breakfast was just yum this weekend.
Rachel Parker
click to enlarge
Paramore had everyone moving.
Rachel Parker
click to enlarge
Even the older crowd loved Paramore.
Rachel Parker
click to enlarge
Lil Nas X had an elaborate set.
Rachel Parker
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.

Latest Stories