The final day of Austin City Limits was a welcome change of pace after ending the previous night with some of the most notorious rockers of the past few decades. Day three featured a large bulk of indie artists focusing on technique and lyrics rather than volume and angst as the crowd gathered one last time to walk the grounds at Zilker Park.
Melbourne virtuoso Tash Sultana took center stage midday to put audiences into a trance with her very own brand of psychedelic extemporization. Coming out alone to a stage full of instruments, she picked them up one by one and engineered a melody that turned into an anthem. Her multi-instrumental talents were on full display, displaying her proficiency with guitar, bass, keys, saxophone, percussion, flute, and somehow still found the wherewithal to sing. The first act of her performance allowed her to put these talents on full display as she improvised masterfully before a band joined her to bring the show to fruition. The set was flushed with her singles from “Pretty Lady,” to “Cigarettes,” and “Notion” before ending with the artist’s breakthrough piece “Jungle.”
Veteran New York Indie Rock project Yeah Yeah Yeahs took the stage later in the day on the same stage. Frontwoman Karen Orzolek immediately drew all eyes in the park, arriving onstage flamboyantly dressed with energy to match and started the show with their recent single “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” appropriately enough spitting up large mouthfuls of water during the interludes. Their modern yet retro sound was unmistakably their own as they played a full set which included “Zero,” “Cheated Hearts,” and “Lovebomb.” The performance ended with the music that arguably helped most in their commercial success. Orzolek paused for a moment to announce “I’d like to dedicate this song to anyone you’ve loved and lost… but most of all… all the lovers here at ACL” before playing “Maps” and afterward ending their set with “Heads Will Roll.”
Texas natives Cigarettes After Sex returned to their home state for an evening performance close to the end of the day. Beginning the show with their 2018 single “Crush” the mood began at mellow and stayed there the whole show. Their set, taking place penultimately to the end of the night, felt like a lullaby to end the weekend. Instead of closing the festival with a bang, they softly landed the plane, therapeutically evaporating all anxieties that might have accrued the past few days from the loud noises in the Austin heat. Unfortunately, the only blemish on this was the placement of the festival’s sports viewing lounge, playing the Cowbows/49ers game just a few feet over. While much of the Dallas fanatics’ sound bled over to the stage, Greg Gonzalez and company were not deterred and remained centered and committed to their craft throughout, playing under a thick fog that set the tone for their smooth hits including “Nothings Gonna Hurt You Baby,” “Dreaming of You,” and “Apocalypse.”
Many will remember Marcus Mumford’s solo performance at ACL 2022, but the sons really did add something to the show as Mumford and Sons took to the stage to complete the hat trick as they headlined the festival for the third time in the band’s history. Opening with a heavy acoustic beat, they began their show with “Bable,” followed by the crowd screaming along as they played their breakthrough single “Little Lion Man.” Marcus Mumford played so emotionally as to break a string on his guitar but played on unfazed as if nothing could deter him from this show. They made the night special early on as they shocked the audience and performed “Hopeless Wanderer” for the first time live since 2013. Mumford then showcased his multi-instrumental talents as he got behind the drums for “Lover of the Light.” “If you got a light on your phone, now's the time to whip it out” Mumford exclaimed before playing “Believe.” The band reciprocated the illumination with some of their own, as fireworks set off during the performance. Mumford expressed his love for the festival, exclaiming “There’s no other festival in the world we’ve headlined three times… and that makes it our favorite one.” The singer then showed how a part of the festival he truly felt, jumping down into the audience and performing “Ditmas” alongside the crowd. As the lights went down and rose for an encore, the band appeared atop a platform in the middle of the arena with fellow musician Noah Kahan with them as they played “Maybe.” The collaborations did not end there, as the band then invited the Houston Tillotson University Concert Choir onstage to perform with them during “Sigh No More” and “Awake My Soul.” The band then ended with a very heartfelt rendition of “I Will Wait” to close out the weekend.
With that, another weekend of ACL was successfully in the books. Some returning next year, some next week, all however would return to the memories sooner than we could believe.