Austin City Limits celebrated its 15th anniversary Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 and Oct. 7 to Oct. 9. The festival featured an eclectic mix of artists and groups, including headliners such as Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem, Mumford & Sons and Willie Nelson.
There was something for every music lover to enjoy.
Prolific folk-rocker Conor Oberst is no stranger to the ACL stage. On Saturday, Oct. 8, Oberst played a primetime slot—just before headliners Kendrick Lamar and Kygo.
Oberst’s setlist included cuts from his extensive career, both with Bright Eyes and as a solo artist.
Directly across from Oberst’s 7:30 p.m. set time was indie rock band Two Door Cinema Club. The Honda stage’s sound consistently bled onto Oberst’s setup at the Miller Lite stage.
Oberst repeatedly described the sound bleeding as a “Verizon commercial.”
When Oberst took to the piano, he sarcastically explained it was “like a laptop, but you have to pound on it more.” At the mention of his newest record, Ruminations, Oberst sarcastically explained that a record was bigger than an iPod.
Despite his sarcastic quips, the veteran performer plowed through his performance. The volume was turned to an eleven. The setlist was tailored to exclude softer songs that would have been drowned out.
Harmonies and a five-piece band elevated Oberst’s alt-country sound to its full potential.
Despite playing to the smallest crowd the Miller Lite stage had seen since lunchtime, Oberst’s crowd was receptive to his strong and resourceful set. His setlist included extensive cuts from Bright Eyes and his solo work.
Bright Eyes cuts included country-tinged “Four Winds,” narrative “Bowl of Oranges,” soulful “Train Under Water” and digital “Take It Easy (Love Nothing).”
Oberst played three songs from Ruminations. The forthcoming album was recorded in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, while Oberst recuperated from a recent hospitalization due to laryngitis, anxiety and exhaustion.
Ballads “Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out” and “Next of Kin” highlighted the careening wispiness of Oberst’s voice. He shifted into a full-tilt wail for “A Little Uncanny,” which featured tributes to Jane Fonda and “Ronnie” Reagan.
Oberst’s characteristic broken folk might not have fit the Saturday night festival mood, but he performed like the veteran he is. Oberst closed the show with unofficially released “Napalm,” a song true to what fans have come to expect from the 15-year folk-rocker.