ACL day 2 recap: Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers say 'bans off our bodies,' Doja Cat puts on an ethereal show
As ACL day two comes to a cathartic close with Billie Eilish's soft and angelic voice echoing throughout Zilker Park. ACL attendees must have been good this year because Saturday brought clear skies despite threats of bad weather.
In a word, day two was iconic. Each performer brought the personality—and political takes—to the stage with them, making sure even the people in the back of the audience felt part of the show.
8:30 p.m. Billie Eilish echoes Phoebe Bridgers, saying "shut the fuck up about our bodies."
Billie Eilish, three-time consecutive ACL performer, said her last in-person ACL performance was a favorite of her career but the new abortion law in Texas almost led to her pulling out of the festival.
"When they made that shit a law, I almost didn't want to do this show because I wanted to punish this fucking place for allowing that to happen here," Eilish said. "But then, I remembered that it's you guys that are the fucking victims and you deserve everything in the world."
As she made her speech, the screens read "bans off our bodies." When she finished, Eilish launched into one of her new songs, "Lost Cause." That wasn't the end of her political takes—Eilish reminded the audience about the urgency of climate change.
"If you don't think global warming exists you're a fucking loser," Eilish said.
The rest of Eilish's one-and-a-half-hour set was spent on classic favorites: "Ocean Eyes," "My Future" and "Bad Guy."
7:30 p.m. Doja Cat's set is a body-loving, ethereal paradise
(Greg Noire for ACL Fest)
Dressed like a forest nymph in a tattered ensemble, Doja Cat emerged with a troupe of dancers on an ethereal stage with colorful flora and fauna. As is expected, Doja Cat attracted a frenzied group of fans, including celebrities Shawn Mendes and Finneas.
Doja Cat brought along an autotune mic and sang nearly all of her most popular songs, starting her set with "Rules," then "Juicy," and ending with "Say So." There was no moving around in Doja Cat's crowd—fans were packed shoulder-to-shoulder for most of her performance.
Doja blessed us with a drum solo 🥁 pic.twitter.com/AIP7qs0AyD— Laura Figi (@figlet__) October 3, 2021
Doja Cat showed off her musical prowess with a drum solo right before transitioning into "Tia Tamera," which features Rico Nasty. Doja Cat's set boasted the biggest crowd on the Lady Bird stage of the night, packing people all the way back to the flags.
5:30 p.m. Phoebe Bridgers has a message for Greg Abbott
(Jackie Lee Young and Miranda McDonald for ACL Fest)
Phoebe Bridgers got on the Lady Bird stage at 4:20 dressed in a skeleton-esque top and blazer, with a message for Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
"Suck my dick, Greg," Bridgers said on stage.
The singer-songwriter recently released a cover of Bo Burnham's "That Funny Feeling," benefitting Texas Abortion Funds, and she has been performing the song across her tours.
Watch bands and hold hands . Enjoying ACL and Phoebe Bridgers pic.twitter.com/EnWdFAZKwh— Dave Hilgendorf (@DHilgy) October 2, 2021
Bridgers' loyal fans sang along to every song on her musing set.
4:30 p.m. Remi Wolf gets everyone in Zilker Park dancing
Singing her own unique brand of disco-pop, California native Remi Wolf put up a must-see set on the T-Mobile stage. Even from across the park, near the Lady Bird stage, fans of her music could be seen dancing to "Photo ID" while they waited for Phoebe Bridgers to perform.
Wolf had a little something for old and new fans alike: "Disco Man," "Liz" and "Monte Carlo" had the audience excitedly screaming the lyrics right back at her.
Missed her set? Wolf will be back, same time and place, next weekend.
4 p.m. 'Fit check!
From left to right, 22-year-old Grace Spruce, 23-year-old Kendal Smith and 21-year-old Clarissa Smith coordinated their outfits colorfully to stand out in the Doja Cat crowd. The trio said they are most excited to see Tyler, The Creator when he headlines tomorrow night.
2 p.m. Check-in with Primo the Alien
Primo the Alien has been making music since high school but she took it pro in 2017. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
A Texas native and Austin resident, Primo the Alien aka Laura Lee was one of the unfortunate crew that had their sets canceled yesterday. Though Lee was disheartened and sad to miss her first-ever ACL, she said she was still honored to be included in the lineup.
"While I didn't get to have my set, I'm still on the lineup, and that in and of itself is like a big honor," Lee said. "When I first started this project, I was writing producing everything myself from my guest bedroom here in Austin."
Zilker Park missed out on an out-of-this-world set—Lee said she has been inspired by space themes and rock operas since she began performing as her alter ego in 2017.
Still want to support your local artists? Lee said the best way to keep her going is to stream her music, show up for concerts and wear her merch, which is still available in the park.
1 p.m. Austinite Sir Woman plays for a packed crowd at the Tito’s Vodka stage
Singer for Wild Child and Austinite Kelsey Wilson was a crowd favorite, performing under the packed Tito's tent. With new songs, like “Fuck it Up," coupled with older releases like “High Road," Wilson sang with energy and gusto.
"I fucking love this city," Wilson told the audience right before playing "Blame it on the Water."
Sights from the park: El Arroyo wants you to have your taco and eat it too
Catch this cheeky little photo op at the South side of the park near the Lady Bird stage.
12:05 p.m. Aaron Stephens puts on a dreamy set at the VRBO stage
The first Austin-based artist of the day performed to a relaxed crowd as one of today’s starting performers. Stephens’ soulful voice, funky guitar riffs and harmonic background singers lulled the audience, many of whom were lounging back in the grass.
Stephens shared this time slot with LA-based Skyler Day on the T-Mobile stage and PayDay on the Miller Lite stage.
11:50 a.m. Wait times at the Barton Creek West entrance are much shorter but rain clouds are creeping in
Attendees could make it through the Barton West entrance in a matter of minutes around noon but with shorter wait times comes cloudy skies. Chance of rain is still hovering around 15% but no drops to be seen!
10 a.m. weather update
Very little rain fell yesterday—short and light showers during Cyrus' set—and little rain is expected again today. The chance of rain has fallen from 80% to just 15% throughout the whole day.
Don't miss Austinites Aaron Stephens and Sir Woman on the VRBO stage at 12:05 p.m. and the Tito's Vodka stage at 1 p.m., respectively. Other notable acts for the day include Dayglow, Doja Cat, Surfaces and Missio.
Check out the full Saturday schedule:
ICYMI: Miley Cyrus, Megan Thee Stallion, Black Pumas and Machine Gun Kelly pull out all the stops for the long-awaited ACL kick-off
Though the weather caused an opening delay until 3 p.m., there was little mud and lots of fun on day one.
- The first major set to play was MGK, who shredded on guitar and climbed his way to the top of the stage's platform so he could overlook the fans.
- Megan Thee Stallion put on a bumping, twerk-focused show where she brought about a dozen fans on stage to dance. A Houston native, Stallion said she was just happy to be home.
- After criticism for not including enough female artists, ACL atoned with a diverse array of women on stage this year. And they're supporting each other too—both Miley Cyrus and Billie Eilish sat backstage to watch Stallion perform.
- Cyrus stunning onlookers in a pink one-piece suit and tapped into the nostalgia by playing songs from across her discography, like "The Climb" and "Wrecking Ball."
- George Strait played until 10 p.m. to a massive audience and you could hear the crowd singing "All My Ex's Live in Texas" from across the park.
We'll be updating right here throughout the day
Before you head out, give our guides a quick read so you can get the most out of your wristband.
- Start with our complete guide to ACL fest.
- Worried about a cancelation? Here's why that's not likely.
- Trying to catch some local legends? Here are all the Austin-based bands coming to ACL.
- Need a break from the music? Here are seven things you didn't know you could do at ACL.
- Still don't know what to wear?
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There is a fearless declaration of the obvious in “Being Texan: Essays, Recipes, and Advice for the Lone Star Way of Life,” a book that invites its readers to recall the power and panache of the late Texas Gov. Anne Richards, before getting schooled on no less than twenty types of taco.
Released this month, “Being Texan” is the first of several Texas Monthly titles to come in the build-up to the magazine's upcoming 50th anniversary in 2023. It is divided into four sections: Identity & Culture, Town & Country, Arts & Entertainment and Food & Drink.
In the introduction, titled “What Does it Mean to Be Texan?,” Texas Monthly editor Dan Goodgame addressed the eclectic aspirations of the book, writing: “Our modest goal was to craft a well-informed, thoughtful sampling of the best the state has to offer.” To this humble end, forty-two editors were utilized to cover fifty-five topics, which tackle everything from the various dress codes that make up “Texas chic” to Selena’s ongoing appeal.
The resulting richness is all over the map, running from Texas Monthly Senior Editor John Nova Lomax’s frustration over the frequent mispronunciations of Texas cities (“From Amarila to Wad-a-loop”) to Oscar Casares’s bittersweet essay on Dia de Los Muertos in the time of COVID (“Souls of the Departed”).
The book goes from silly to serious fast, and the pace might unseat some readers who would otherwise just enjoy the ride of pride that comes from being reminded that Texas gave the world Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos, Dr. Pepper, Liquid Paper and the microchip.
So, in a book that switches from the state’s early instance on remaining a slave republic to a piece about collecting San Antonio ghost stories, it perhaps goes without saying that the essays on brisket and beer are the easiest to digest.
“Being Texan” does, in truth, contain some delicious and downright literary food writing.
Joe Galvan’s “Ode to the Raspa,” treats the summertime shaved ice staple as nothing less than a kind of edible ambassador of U.S. cuisine. “They serve as an important and necessary reminder of the fluctuating, imprecise words that American food inhabits,” he writes like some semiotics professor, before waxing poetic on how raspas embody childhood innocence as well as “the humidity of a July evening that finds itself at the bottom of a Styrofoam cup.”
But readers who are tempted to skim the section on “Strong Texas Women” or “The Evolution of Juneteenth” to get to Paula Forbes’ warning not to skip the processed cheese when slow cooking queso, will have missed out on some deep insight into what it means to embrace all the appealing and uneasy aspects of the state.
In “A Tale of Two High Schools,” Dan Q. Dao, details how, as a Vietnamese kid growing up in Houston, he employed the tropes of Texas culture as a tool of survival. “Perhaps out of a sense of self-preservation, I became enamored with the gilded mythology of Texas, from the folklore of the Alamo to the twang of country music. I wore cowboy boots, showed up for Friday night football games, and rarely missed a rodeo,” writes Dao, observing that: “Part of me believed that if I proclaimed my Texanness loudly enough, I would be spared the label of outsider.”
The dilemma of the homegrown Texas outsider is artfully explored in Skip Hollandsworth’s “Why McMurtry Matter,'' a meditation on the ironic popularity of Larry McMurtry, a writer who wrestled with his relationship to Texas--particularly the Hollywood myths and misconceptions that surrounded the state. Speaking about (to his mind) the perplexing success of “Lonesome Dove,” McMurtry said: “All I had wanted to do was write a novel that demythologized the West. Instead, it became the chief source of western mythology. Some things you cannot explain.”
There is much about Texas itself that seems hard to explain.
But David Courtney, a senior editor at Texas Monthly, does a good job of speculating on this rare amalgam of conservative pride and fearless experimentation that tends to run through the state, when he writes “Texans believe they possess something deep within themselves that sets them apart, and therefore they kind of do.”
Despite the surface-level accessibility of a book that addresses the cultural significance of Neiman Marcus and the extreme brand loyalty to Whataburger, “Being Texan” offers rare input regarding Texas and its citizenry, as well as handy advice for breaking in a pair of cowboy boots.
'Not a band, an experience': Musician Pete Monfre pushes the boundaries of making it in the music industry
In a city where live music is heralded above all else, Pete Monfre was surprised to find local musicians working for free that he quit the industry for 10 years in 2006.
Local musicians tended to be underpaid before COVID-19 sent the music industry reeling, but the fallout from the pandemic exasperated the existing problems. Musician and marketer Monfre knows—he’s been behind that shaking tip jar, trying to turn a profit while doing what he loves. He’s tackling the problem with a unique brand of live shows, which go against the grain, mix business with pleasure and help bring home the bacon.
The shows, called Stories from the Road, are an informal storytelling jam session at The Saxon Pub that encourages interaction between the artist and audience.
After a brief hiatus due to ongoing woes of the pandemic Stories from the Road came back to The Saxon Pub on Saturday. It was the first of 23 consecutive shows that didn’t sell out, which Monfre attributes to the break of not having shows.
“We called it Stories from the Road—not a band, an experience,” Monfre said. “We're not going to rehearse, we're not going to have a list, we're not going to prepare, every show is a one-off and you will never see it again.”
His shows start early at 6 p.m., with a rotating group of musicians playing blues or Americana who need not rehearse. This time it featured Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff on saxophone and harmonica, bassist Mark Epstein, drummer Kevin Hall and Adam Pryor on Hammond Organ.
You’ll probably end up spending a bit more than the typical show at the Saxon Pub, around $30 per person, but each show goes directly to supporting the artists that made it.
“Part of the mission was to advocate for fair wages for musicians and to help musicians understand their economic value,” Monfre said. “Now I can afford to pay musicians a modest guarantee and we call that the Fair Play approach to live music.”
Monfre moved to Austin as a young adult with the intention of “conquering the music industry” in 1981, which he told Austonia he did not do but did meet “a lot of interesting people.” He left Austin to tour for a few years, then moved to Milwaukee, where he continued to play music.
After returning to Austin in 2006, Monfre discovered some musicians were playing shows for free.
“I'm playing in Chicago and Michigan and hardcore blues places, and we don't play for free,” Monfre said. “So I actually quit for 10 years. There is no reason to play for free whatsoever if you just get the model right.”
Having already tried to conquer the music industry once, Monfre took a business-forward approach the second time. The model also caters to what he believes is an underserved group: working professionals who want to meet like-minded individuals but also be home by 9 p.m.
Chief Technology Officer for Economic Transformation Technologies David Smith, who has been coming to other Monfre shows since they started in 2016, said he enjoys the improvisational nature of the shows because it reminds him of old Austin.
“The Stories from the Road get back to the root of what music is: the fact that you can sit and jam, make music with musicians because they understand music, and that's the soul of Austin,” Smith said. “It really is a celebration of music.”
Monfre said the informality is what makes his shows so popular—you’ll hear the musicians ask the key for a song, take a request from the crowd, make a lighthearted jab at one another or create a song from scratch.
“They want to see the sausage being made, it's really funny I would have never thought it,” Monfre said.
Price (right) said he was happy the show ended early so he could make it home to Lampasas. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
“I am knocked out. It just really didn't get any better than what we just had—this band was so good, the crowd was so good,” Price said. “That's what Austin in the ‘60s and ‘70s was all about, just everybody throwing it together.”
Stories from the Road is returning to The Saxon Pub stage on Dec. 18, with a completely new group of musicians. The show, like always, will start at 6 p.m.
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The holiday season is upon us, so get ready to celebrate with carols, snacks and light shows galore. Austin is full of holiday festivities spanning throughout all of December so get out and enjoy the cool weather while it lasts.
Don't miss these nine holiday-themed light shows.
Austin's most famous annual light show and a Readers Choice of USA Today's 10 Best Public Displays of Holiday Lights, the Trail of Lights will be drive-thru again this year Nov. 27-Dec. 31. For 57 years in a row, the Trail of Lights has lit up Zilker Park with games, food, local vendors and more than two million lights gleaming for the holidays. The event, as always, is free to the public and you can reserve slots here. The Zilker Tree is already up, so you can already see it if the holiday cheer is too much to bear.
Coming back for the second year in a row, Peppermint Parkway will transport you to COTALAND, where six million lights gleam and Christmas is just a one-mile drive away. The hybrid event will have you drive through the display of lights, dancing elves and unique little villages before you hit the walking plaza, where you can grab a bite to eat and meet Santa. Tickets range from $40-$95, some including a lap around the COTA track, running from Nov. 26-Dec. 26.
Dreamland Dripping Springs has been transformed into a winter wonderland—running throughout the month of December, the venue's first-ever holiday display is taking over with activities for the whole family. Plus, running from Nov. 20-Jan. 4, a pop-up ice skating rink will really bring the holiday cheer for $10 or $5 Monday specials. The lights display will feature half a million lights and warm, festive sips from the taproom.
With events galore for the holiday season, winter is really when the Hill Country Galleria thrives. Starting with its Light Up The Plaza event on Saturday from 6-8 p.m., where visitors can see Santa, gaze at the official lighting of the holiday tree and hear some live tunes from rock band American Authors. The Galleria will also hold a holiday market every Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading up to Christmas Eve and periodic photos with Santa at Buenos Aires Cafe.
Deck the Halls at the Driskill Hotel
(Courtesy of the Driskill Hotel)
This holiday season, the Driskill will deck out every nook and cranny of the historic hotel from the grand staircase to the 16-foot Christmas tree in the lobby to be lit on a Dec. 1 ceremony that will be open to the public. Touches of Driskill festivities can also be seen at Dell Children's Hospital with a gingerbread village for its annual "Cookies for Caring" event.
Kicking off the lighting of the tree on Saturday, Dec. 4, Austinites will gather on the steps of the Texas Capitol at 6 p.m. to sing the 45-foot tree to life. Afterward, local band Los Coast will close out the night with a free concert. The fun doesn't stop there though as the Downtown Austin Alliance will host the Downtown Holiday Stroll, with "holiday passports" and stamps to collect for local restaurants and stores, and a Frida Friday Holiday Market at Republic Square.
Combining festive holiday lights and the beautiful native plants of Central Texas, Luminations at the Wildflower Center is back with thousands of lights, luminarias and a lit-up look at Fortlandia. This year will also feature an interactive light maze called "silvana" by Ben Busche of architecture firm Brut Deluxe, which will be the maze's first appearance in North America. The event will run Thursdays-Sundays from Dec. 2-Jan. 30 for $10-$25 per person.
Reserved tables are back for Mozart's Coffee Roasters annual Christmas Lights Show for $20 four-person tables and $30 six-person tables—so get your tickets early because these tables are likely to sell out. The light show will also feature a festival-style Bavarian marketplace for those last-minute gifts. If you're too late to reserve a table, don't worry, there will be standing room available for free so come one, come all, and come early for parking.
From Dec. 2-4, Old Settlers Park will light up with holiday displays, family activities, festive refreshments and live music. Watch the balloons hover above the lake as you sip on a hot chocolate or give to those in need, with stands for Round Rock Operation Blue Santa, which is taking toys for kids in need, the Play For All Foundation, which is accepting cash donations for disabled children, and the People & Parks Foundation, accepting cash donations for green space in the community. Admission to the event is free, along with most of the activities in the park.
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