Austin City Limits: The Awards

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Austin City Limits: The Awards

by Taylor Gilliam

 

I can’t get over live music. It’s an addiction at this point, a 2- or 3-hour dose of adrenaline and feeling hyperaware of being alive. What better way to spend fall break, then, than to live all concert addicts’ dream and go to a music festival? Austin City Limits, held in the Texas city’s Zilker Park, had it all—classic and alternative rock, pop, EDM, and rap—and topped it off with iconic headliners.

Because a recap of such an amazing weekend (especially when written by me) would take far too long, here are the award winners:

Best On-Stage Kiss: Miniature Tigers

Phoenix band (cheers to local music!) Miniature Tigers came out of the depths of the jungle/hiatus and released Cruel Runnings in March of this year and have been on tour ever since. The boys came on stage in outfits just like the ones they wore on their album’s cover and played favorites “The Wolf,” “Swimming Pool Blues,” and “Used To Be the Shit.” As the crowd went wild, frontman Charlie got in his bandmates’ faces, eventually full-on kissing bassist Brandon Lee. Charlie told us that we get him in “beast mode…whatever that means.” Closer “Sex on the Regular” was a definite highlight as well.

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Best Transition to a Festival Stage: Knox Hamilton

After seeing Knox Hamilton play a small venue, I wondered how they would take to a festival stage. Add to that a mix-up where Colony House was supposed to play that stage during that time slot, and I was extra curious. Everything went smoothly, though, and the band rocked straight through their set at ease in the outdoor venue. Some fellow front row-ers knew the words to the yet-unreleased songs, but the rest of the crowd bobbed along accordingly, drawn in by the sound. (Psst, you might think that “Work It Out” is the only song available, but you can hear their EP here.)

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Weirdest Set: tUnE-yArDs

We didn’t expect anything else from Merrill Garbus and co., better known as tUnE-yArDs. Starting off with “Hey Life,” the set drew mostly from this year’s Nikki Nack with Garbus making accompanying sounds into her microphone as she saw fit. If this photo doesn’t accurately sum up the set, I don’t know what does.

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Set That Brought Me to Tears: Bleachers

fun. drummer Jack Antonoff has had his side project, Bleachers, in the works for over a year now, and my only question is why he kept it hidden for so long. One of the main criticisms of debut album Strange Desire was that it was overproduced because Antonoff’s voice doesn’t compare to fun. lead singer Nate Ruess’s, but Antonoff can hold his own on stage with nothing between him and the microphone. Opener “Wild Heart” made for a grand entrance, just like it sets the tone as the album’s first track, and expected closer “I Wanna Get Better” tied the bow on what felt like a glorious hour in a John Hughes movie.

A note: I’ll openly admit that I write this award with a strong emotional attachment to the band, but finally getting to see them after months of obsession was a dream come true.

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Set That Caught Me Most Off Guard: Phantogram

To be honest, I’ve never known what I would do at a Phantogram show. The oftentimes eerie and introspective songs are way too cool for my usual dance-like-an-idiot concert routine, but that’s exactly what the thick of the crowd was doing. Vocalist Sarah Barthel, speaking far too quietly, instructed the crowd to put their arms up in the air and dance like she was about to on stage, and it was fun.

New Love: Interpol

I’m late to the game, I should have been listening to Interpol this whole time, and I’m a bandwagoner. I know. But Interpol absolutely commanded the main stage almost without moving and maintained a cool vibe as they played a career spanning set, including tracks from last month’s El Pintor.

Best Overall Set: Eminem

When an unsmiling Marshall Mathers swaggered on stage, the screams of thousands and thousands of fans must have reached the downtown Austin buildings that form the picturesque skyline. And Shady fed off that energy to bring a 30-song set whose tail end was hit after hit: “My Name Is,” “The Real Slim Shady,” and “Without Me.” Included in the set were both Rihanna collaborations, P!nk collab “Won’t Back Down,” and a surprising “Airplanes, Pt. 2” cover, and Shady took a moment to dedicate closer “Not Afraid” to everyone struggling themselves or know people who are struggling with addiction. When the stage went black, it hit me: Eminem just got away with not playing “Lose Yourself.” Ever the dramatic, though, the headliner decided to “encore” and rapped us the one last classic we’d been missing before leaving us to process the performance. I was proud, I was ecstatic, I was sad to see him go. And I remembered twelve-year-old Taylor telling my parents that I’d see Eminem someday—turns out he was one of the best sets I’ve ever seen.

Honorable Mentions:

Zedd– He’s such a fun DJ who has a huge smile on his face the whole time and loves what he’s doing and seeing the crowd respond.

Childish Gambino- Between being one of the first people to see KAUAI live and seeing the premiere of the “Telegraph Ave” video, I was blown away. Also Gambino hates shirts about as much as I hate pants, which I can appreciate.

CHVRCHES- This is my Biggest Crush award, and it goes to Martin Doherty.  That’s all.

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