ACL Music Festival 2019: Lizzo, Kacey Musgraves, Cardi B & More Dominate Day Three

As if everyone isn’t already, we need to talk about Lizzo.

Even Kacey Musgraves, billed in the runner-up slot before main stage headliner Mumford & Sons, knew that Lizzo was the must-see performer on Sunday (Oct. 6) of Austin City Limits Music Festival’s first weekend.

“Y’all better f--kin’ run,” she said about 30 minutes before the “Juice” singer hit the Miller Lite stage on the opposite end of Zilker Park, next inciting a thunderous “Lizzo, we love you!” chant that proved the 2019 Grammy Winner for Best Album is as classy as she is talented. 

Quite a few festgoers took that as their permission to peel away before Musgraves rounded out her hour-long set with favorites including “Velvet Elvis,” “Rainbow” and “High Horse,” plus a lively cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).” But no matter – she’d already succeeded in holding a headliner-sized crowd rapt while she crooned and quipped through half of Golden Hour, including “Slow Burn” to start and an extended rendition of the title track. 

Besides, it was only fitting that one East Texan role model for female empowerment should pass the baton to another, especially considering that Lizzo -- who claims Houston as her hometown -- probably set an ACL Fest record for most people amassed at a side-stage. 

   

The audience was already mindbogglingly huge when she kicked off the show with the powerhouse title track off Billboard 200 No. 4 album Cuz I Love You, and it swelled exponentially as she twirled, (purple)hair-flipped and twerked in her eye-popping yellow-orange-red leotard – backed by four dancers (“The Big Girls”) and down-since-day-one DJ Sophia Eris – throughout “Worship” (cut with a fitting snippet of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”), “Exactly How I Feel” and “Scuse Me,” until the ranks of relentlessly screaming/singing fans essentially merged with everyone already waiting just up the hill for Cardi B’s Honda Stage finale.

“This is the most insane and special crowd,” she gushed before inducting everyone into the “Lizzo choir” to sing along on “Soulmate,” then paused again to continue her train of thought: “I remember when I used to play festivals... I would look at the main stage and be like, ‘One day all those people are gonna be waiting for me.’ And that day is today, bitch.”

She could’ve stopped there and claimed all the glory for herself as most of the audience belted out every word to closing homerun hits “Good As Hell,” “Truth Hurts” and “Juice,” but Lizzo embodies an exceptional sort of superstardom: extra in every way – wardrobe, attitude, entourage – except with regard to egocentricity.

“I want you to leave with more than just a fun show... to leave truly wanting to be yourself... feeling safe and loved, free,” she said, imploring everyone to take three deep breaths. “Imagine all the love… let it out… and put that love right here between your titties. If you’re ever feeling sad and low… remember that love will be here forever, ACL.”   

All the good-vibes momentum from Lizzo’s final thrust was nearly lost when Cardi arrived on stage nearly 30 minutes late. But the Bronx-bred rapper of Domincan, Trinidadian and Spanish descent – dressed in a skin-tight, pink leopard print bodysuit that became predictably scant toward the rear – recovered quickly with a full-throttle, super-sexualized stream of about two dozen tracks, including hyped-up highlights “Lick,” “Twerk,” DJ Khaled collabo “Wish Wish,” “I Like It” and pyro-saturated closer “Bodak Yellow.” 

At 44-minutes total, the set felt slightly shortchanged, but Cardi made up for that somewhat by announcing that her upcoming El Paso show on Oct. 8 would be her last for awhile so she could focus on recording previously announced 2020 album Tiger Woods.

Lizzo may have won the day, but it was impossible to dismiss the impact of several other acts: Spain’s Rosalía made thousands forget the oppressive heat and groove with abandon along to her predominately flamenco-influenced pop, fiery dance routines and earthshaking voice; Britain’s Idles pummeled their modest-sized 2 p.m. audience as if they were among the fest’s headliners, injecting untethered post-punk with ultra-positive undertones (“If you share your feelings, it may one day save your life,” said vocalist Joe Talbot in reference to a song about a close friend’s depression, “1049 Gotho”); and Austin quartet Otis the Destroyer asserted themselves as saviors of catchy and clever yet crushing fuzz rock (see latest release, Cool Evil) destined for bigger stages in years to come.

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