SPOTLIGHT: Rock On…

by ALEX PEREZ//Feature Editor

AUSTIN – Imagine being surrounded by a crowd with thousands of people who have the same love for music, all jumping and singing in unison, everyone living in one of the happiest moments of their lives. 

That was the atmosphere created at Austin City Limits, (also known as ACL), a three-day festival packed with artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Miike Snow, Major Lazor and the legend himself, Willie Nelson.

After the release of the 2016 line-up, crowds swarmed to buy tickets in advance to lock in a spot to see their favorite artists, including Major Lazor and Kendrick Lamar, who did not disappoint.

Austin City Limits is truly a journey, a journey that you take with thousands of people of all races, religions, and ages.  The music brings a diverse group of people together at Zilker Park to celebrate the music. The three-day music festival creates an experience you cannot get anywhere else. Part of the three-day journey is preparing for the incredible experience, not only physically but also mentally. To have a full experience at Austin City Limits, you must be open to so many kinds of music genres, as well as festival fashion. Be prepared to jump higher than you’ve ever had, head bang until you have headaches and sing so loud and passionately you don’t care who hears. Once you have attained this mentality, you are truly ready to have one of the best weekends of your life.

With any type of festival, there are bound to be extraneous and out-of-the-ordinary fashion trends. Erica Gomez and her boyfriend took part in the festival fashion, complete with his and hers headdresses, face paint and a totem pole.

Glitter on every part of the body, intense color schemes for eye shadow, long, flowy and revealing clothing would be the norm for the entire weekend that encouraged carefree vibes throughout the festival.

Day one for me began with one of my favorites, AWOLNATION. The crowd swarmed to the “Honda” stage as the keyboardist, Kenny Carkeet, was the first to come out. The crowd roared with excitement as the band members came on one by one.

They started the performance with high energy and got better with every song, giving the crowd a surge of energy and enthusiasm for the weekend ahead. AWOLNATION took the stage with a force and performed an incredible set, ending with the infamous “Sail.”  Next on the list was a packed stage at Flying Lotus and Flume. Flying Lotus created a mini intergalactic world that the crowd escaped to with psychedelic visuals and an electronic sound. It was something different to cleanse the musical palate and get stimulated through incredible visuals that helped the crowd be able to just let go and to get lost in the show. Flume was, in one word, a blast. With high intensity beats and melodic lyrics, Flume had everybody jumping, dancing and singing along. On the first day, you realize that you must make sacrifices to see your favorite artists. In my case, I had to leave Flume early to get a good spot for Major Lazor.

I have been an avid fan of Major Lazor for years, and you can imagine my excitement when I finally got to see them. Just like Flume and AWOLNATION, Major Lazor took the crowd by storm, creating an experience that made my entire life. Major Lazor had the intentions to dazzle and impress, and they did not fall short.  Being the only artists that had dancers added to the visual aspect of the show that already had amazing lighting and obviously incredible music. The dancers had a complete set infused with Major Lazor’s, with outfit changes and upbeat dances that kept the crowd on their toes.

In the middle of the show, Diplo, one of the members of the group and well-known DJ, took crowd surfing to another level with an inflatable hamster ball that he stepped into and rolled across the crowd. That was just one of the peak moments that took my breath away and brought tears of joy to my eyes. They ended the first night with one of their latest hits, “Lean On” and left the crowd astonished and ready for the days to come. Day Two came and brought Cage The Elephant, Melanie Martinez, The Chainsmokers and Lamar to the stage. Cage The Elephant had a rock n’ roll vibe with a slight ’70s twist. It felt as if I was transported into the era of rock and swooning over the lead singer of my favorite band. With songs such as “Cold Cold Cold” and “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” they certainly brought the head-banging portion into the festival.

Ending the night was Lamar, who I have much respect for just because of his showmanship. He stood alone for most of the show, except for a brief moment when he brought out rapper Schoolboy Q. Other than that moment, he was alone and still managed to be one of my favorite acts. His lyrics and energy surged through the crowd and had the entire park lit up with excitement. All of Zilker Park sang along with him on energy song and jumped until the very end.

Lamar ended his last song of his set and ran off, but the crowd wanted more. So they joined in to call him back out, chanting, “Kendrick, Kendrick, Kendrick” in hopes of seeing him once more. Sure enough, he came out with more energy than before and performed “M.A.A.D City.” He once again ran off, and the crowd began chanting once more, “Kendrick, Kendrick, Kendrick,” over and over until he came out for a second encore. At this point, the crowd was going insane and were ecstatic for anything that was going to happen. Lamar came out for the final song, and we all sang “Be Alright.” It was a definite statement of how we all felt after the performance and the end of Day Two.  The last day was the most settled and chill. Gallant was a nice vibe starter, with melodic beats and an amazing range of vocals. Taking breaks was a necessity until Willie Nelson, who attracted a crowd that covered almost half of the park, took the stage. The crowd stayed until Mumford and Sons, which was the perfect blend of blues and rock to relax the audience and bring the festival to a close.  From the flag culture, to glitter and makeup fashion trends, to an incredible experience that will never be forgotten, Austin City Limits was one to remember and something to experience at least once in your life.

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