In any other year, Austin City Limits is already a big deal, one of Austin’s two defining music events, along with South By Southwest.
However this year, it also took on the role as the first major music festival after last week’s tragic shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas. Yet the mood at the festival was jubilant and often defiant in a show of resiliency and unity.
“I’m kind of the opinion things like that shouldn’t change your life,” said Tyler Costolo, one of the attendees told the New York Times. “At that point, you’re letting those kinds of things win.”
The artists up on stage also took strong and emotional stands in tribute to the victims. Headliner Chance The Rapper’s set leaned heavily on his more gospel-influenced songs and before his final track, he declared to the crowd, “I’m only here by grace and mercy, and I don’t believe that getting into heaven is a thing of individuality. I think we’ll all be judged as a whole — we’re in it together.”
Rapper Ice Cube more explicitly addressed the events in Las Vegas, addressing the crowd saying, “”I’m so happy to be here showing the world that we aren’t scared of that bullshit in Las Vegas. I’m glad y’all came … because it’s nothing but love here.”
The festival had a successful first weekend without any major incidents, and also doubled as a tribute to Tom Petty, who’s death was also major news in the past week. Several artists, including headliners the Red Hot Chili Peppers, played songs from Petty’s catalogue in tribute to the late artist.
The festival also captured the moment by playing Petty’s most well-known song, “Free Fallin’,” over every speaker on the festival grounds while three skydivers jumped from a plane trailing sparks and a Texas flag, inspiring an impromptu singalong.
Austin City Limits will continue next weekend with headliners including Jay-Z, Solange, The xx, Martin Garrix, and more.
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