Two heat-filled days and tens of bands later, Austin City Limits attendees appeared both spent and ready for another round of rain by the time Sunday (Sept. 18) rolled around. Most roughed it out in pursuit of Arcade Fire, who did not disappoint the massive crowd as the day’s only evening headliner. Here are 11 things seen and overheard from ACL, day three.
1. Arcade Fire thrilled diehard fans in its “Austin City Limits” TV taping on Saturday night, but the gig was just a warm-up to Sunday’s main event over at Zilker Park. The band played for exactly an hour and half, playing most of latest (and Grammy-winning) album “The Suburbs” and exhibiting the same warm sentiments toward Austin as its members had the night before during the ACL taping. A notable addition to Sunday’s set (despite, you know, 70-some thousand more bodies) was the inclusion of “Speaking in Tongues,” Arcade Fire’s collaboration with David Byrne, which appeared on the recently released deluxe “Suburbs” reissue. “There are a lot of notes — we might screw it up,” frontman Win Butler joked before launching into “Tongues.” The band opted for “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” during the encore in lieu of the slightly more epic “Wake Up,” which saw an appearance earlier in the show.
2. Detroit newcomers Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Jr. rocked the Honda stage at midday on Sunday, delighting even those unfamiliar with the emerging indie duo with an impressive cover of the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows.” Despite the extreme weather conditions, fans old and new (many with their flags) swayed along in the sun.
3. Those looking to flee that mind-numbing heat on Sunday found refuge in the handful of branded tents throughout the grounds. The Google+ lounge, which set up shop between the fest’s two main stages, featured air-conditioning, a Google-colored (yes, it’s a thing) beanbag island, swag giveaways, and a photobooth.
4. Poor, poor Randy Newman. Not only did half the crowd that gathered for his evening tent set in preparation for Arcade Fire’s park-wide takeover, but the bass from Empire of the Sun’s set across the way distracted those who did stay. Mix that with a bit of overflow from Social Distortion’s set over at the Honda stage, and it made for one weird musical cocktail: “Short People” with an electronic thump-thump and slight guitar rawr.leave halfway through
5. While Randy serenaded his camp, another set of seasoned vets took the stage around the corner: seminal Orange County punks Social Distortion. Frontman Mike Ness charmed the Austinites gathered at their evening set by complimenting the locals’ attitudes, crowing, “We got to hang out around South Austin the other day, and man, people from California are assholes!”
6. With Broken Social Scene leader Kevin Drew telling Pitchfork last week that BSS plans to take an indefinite hiatus, there was certainly fanfare around the Canadian indie collective’s ACL set. As they’ve been doing on and off since roughly 2008, Broken Social Scene gave Modest Mouse’s “The World at Large” the face-melting cover treatment, complete with four guitarists. Drew’s stage ramblings reflected the crowd’s own at one point, noting: “I haven’t been this hot since I was in my mother’s womb.”
7. One of the most unexpected sets of the day Sunday came from Hayes Carll, the Canadian country singer whose on-stage banter was witty enough to cause passersby to slow down and take in a few minutes of his set. It was nearly impossible NOT to stop and chuckle, as Carll mused, “I’ve toured all over North America, drinking as much as possible, putting as many drugs in my system as possible, but what do I get fined $700 by the cops for? Accidentally attempting to smuggle one mandarin orange across the American border.”
8. Much like Lollapalooza — another major music festival produced by C3 Presents — Austin City Limits plays host to a wide variety of local food vendors, high-end restaurants included. The best thing we ate all weekend had to be the three-piecer from Lucy’s Fried Chicken booth, enjoyed during Mavis Staples’ Friday evening set.
9. Just because you’re at Austin City Limits doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a little Sunday football. The folks at C3 Presents busted out the big guns, in the form of a “lounge” tent that featured giant-screen TVs broadcasting NFL and NCAA games throughout the weekend. Many an over-rock-n-rolled dad flocked to the oasis, and their cheers and groans wafted across the air as attendees migrated from stage to stage.
10. And now for the Overheard at ACL Awards. Sunday: “Omigod, her top is crocheted heaven.” — teenage girl commenting on Charity Rose Thielen (of the Head and the Heart)’s outfit during band’s packed, early set. (Sidenote: Props to Charity for not only wearing “crocheted heaven” but also tights and platforms during the pinnacle of ACL’s heat.)
11. As clouds loomed ominously over Zilker Park at dusk, Fleet Foxes seemed to challenge the storm that threatened to soak fest-goers with their hour-long set, which fell just prior to Arcade Fire’s. The scene was a perfect backdrop, though, for the Seattlites’ masterful performance; many exhausted attendees laid out blankets and enjoyed the set while taking in the weather patterns. Luckily, the storm never broke.
MORE ACL: 15 Things Seen & Heard Saturday | Friday