While Austin City Limits may have technically kicked off weekend 1 on Friday, the festival seemed to wait until Saturday night to, uh, "Get the Party Started." Because that's exactly what Pink did on day 2.
But before the hit-maker took over the American Express stage on Saturday, it was The Midnight who shined brightly, dominating the same stage and thoroughly enjoying the thrust set up for the night's headliner. It was clear the Los Angeles outfit definitely had their fans who came to see them, but the vast majority of the audience were new converts, easily won over by the 80's synthwave and, of course, the saxophone. This band might have been playing a 2 p.m. slot, but they are ready for primetime.
Next, Role Model was bringing the best to the nearby T-Mobile stage, giving fans live renditions of his recent debut album Rx. Surrounded by a swarm of hardcore fans, the singer, also known as Tucker Pillsbury, offered up a dazzling set of moody pop and bangers, showing he has nowhere to go but up, having graduated from playing the smaller BMI stage in the past.
Over at the Barton Springs stage, rising rapper Tyla Yaweh started off his set with a delay as he continued nodding to sound difficulties. But he powered through as he acknowledged the support of his true fans for sticking with him. He also gave them a taste of his new music, teasing a new single coming later this month—Oct. 21, to be exact.
The day continued with strong performances from the likes of New York-based singer-songwriter Samia conquering the Miller Lite. She even took a moment to take in the sight of the crowd, thanking those who came to watch her, saying she was grateful they chose to be there over other options in Zilker Park at that time.
Then it was a somewhat hometown welcome at the Honda stage for Conan Gray, who is from nearby Georgetown, which is just outside Austin. He gave a headline-like performance worthy of being on one of the two main stages, and it was exactly what we needed in the late afternoon timeframe.
But if we were needing a pick-me-up of any kind, Sofi Tukker more than took care of that at the Miller Lite stage, proving they deserved to be at one of the bigger stages, drawing a mammoth crowd excited to see the duo Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern. And the energy was palpable, as they pair delivered one of the day's best sets, donning the matching, orange-hued tennis outfits in support of their new album Tennis.
The party only continued further over at the American Express stage as Lil Nas X warmed up the crowd for Pink's upcoming closer with a headlining-worthy set of his own. He acknowledged it might be another three years before he saw the crowd again, as festival lineups tend to rotate through a number of acts before bringing artists back through for another performance. But perhaps next time around, he'd be the one closing the main stage.
Meanwhile, Honda stage was equally lit, with Atlanta representing courtesy of Big Boi, who brought out his friend and collaborator Sleepy Brown for a number of songs as he churned through solo favorites as well as a slew of OutKast hits, including "ATLiens," "So Fresh, So Clean," "Ms. Jackson" and "The Way You Move."
Following Sofi Tukker's set at Miller Lite was a tall order, but Diplo was up for it and he delivered a club-ready show of his own as a similar sea of fans turned up ready for a lively performance from the hit DJ-producer, whose own self-titled album recently released.
As the day turned to night, it was perfect for The War On Drugs to wrap up the T-Mobile stage with a uniquely extended performance which felt simultaneously epic and intimate, as if everyone there was friends just watching their favorite band. As Adam Granduciel and company navigated through their catalog of standout selects, you could truly sense the connection between the band and their fans, the latter of whom were soaking up every second of the performance from the start to finish. And it was fitting for the band to close with "I Don't Live Here Anymore," the lead single off their incredible 2021 album, of which they recently shared an deluxe edition.
Then was the finale, from none other than Pink, closing out the American Express stage. It was such a big moment for the singer, especially as festivals embrace big pop artists as headliners, in contrast with past years, when rock artists are traditionally favored. As Pink kicked off her set, it was clear ACL made a great decision bringing Alecia Moore to top-line day 2, as she launched with the perfectly fitting "Get This Party Started," with the crowd loudly chanting back the lyrics: "I'm comin' up so you better get this party started / Get this party started on a Saturday night."
Pink proved exactly why she was a wise choice, as she delivered hit after hit, continuing on with "Raise Your Glass," "Just Like a Pill," "Just Give Me a Reason" and "Try," with a handful of impressive covers, including Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "River" by Bishop Briggs. She later closed with "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" and then returned for a stunning encore flying overhead as she performed her hit single "So What."