After a sluggish start to Austin City Limits Music Festival on Friday, day 2 on Saturday was full-speed ahead, with a full schedule and no rain, thankfully.
The day's lineup was a solid one, and the energy throughout Zilker Park was a positive one, reflective of a crowd excited to have ACL back—and live music, in general. With some of the biggest acts scheduled for day 2, there was plenty of anticipation for the likes of Billie Eilish, Jack Harlow, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Doja Cat and Phoebe Bridgers.
First up was Southern California outfit Sun Room, who rocked the BMI stage with an outsized performance leading into Gracie Abrams' wonderful set on the Miller Lite stage, where the young singer delivered a breathtaking performance for a crowd of fans who had been waiting specifically for her appearance at the fest.
Then came Amber Mark, who recently announced her long-awaited debut album, as she offered up a swanky, absolutely delightful set over on the main Ladybird stage. Perhaps not coincidentally, her performance would be the first of an all-day lineup of impressive women acts on that stage.
As the day carried on, Texas-native duo Surfaces brought a high-energy performance to the Honda stage, where they gave a satisfying set for fans who just wanted some good vibes, a few covers, and a big party.
Later in the afternoon, it was Phoebe Bridgers whose performance seemed to represent the start of a new arc in the day's schedule, as a swarm of eager fans sang along with the singer, who dedicated her cover of Bo Burnham's "That Funny Feeling" to Texas Governor Greg Abbott. "This is for you, Greg," she shouted. "Suck my dick!"
Bridgers was protesting the state's SB 8 law, which severely restricts women's access to abortion by outlawing the practice in nearly all circumstances. She wasn't alone. Earlier in the day, Gracie Abrams, daughter of director J.J. Abrams, also showed solidarity, sporting a "Bans Off Our Bodies" hat during her performance.
Meanwhile, Modest Mouse delivered pure earcandy for the alt-rock millennials, as Isaac Brock and Co. rocked out for a crowd of fans, many clearly longtime ones, dancing blissfully to the sounds of "Float On" and "We Are Between."
By early evening, Doja Cat turned the energy up in Zilker Park, with many fans who had been camping out for most of the afternoon in anticipation of her set. And she absolutely delivered an incredible show. Flanked by perfectly synced dancers, she proved exactly why she has been climbing the charts so rapidly.
Likewise, by the time Jack Harlow took the Miller Lite stage, a sea of fans had already filled in snuggly around the stage, a testament of the Kentucky rapper's star status. His stage presence seemed effortless as he confidently strutted around the stage and chatted between songs, of course delivering hit after hit, while noting the first time he played in Austin was during SXSW for half-empty bars and cafes.
Come nightfall, the energy in the field was perfect for the closing acts. RÜFÜS DU SOL took over the Honda stage, with many of the fans from Jack Harlow migrating over to the stage next door. Drenched in moody hues of purple and blue, the trio offered a career-spanning set of chill vibes and easily danceable cuts. By the time they introduced their new single "Next to Me," the energy in the crowd was palpable.
Of course, the highlight of the night (and perhaps the weekend) was none other than Billie Eilish. Her headlining set came just two years after she was among the headliners for 2019, the last year of ACL before the world went upside-down.
Now with an entire new album added to her catalog, she came with an extensive set list, which included "bury a friend," "when the party's over," "ocean eyes," "everything i wanted," "all the good girls go to hell," "bad guy" and "Happier Than Ever." It was the greatest way to close out such a strong day of performers. It was also such proof of Eilish's staying power, her strength as an entertainer and worthiness of top-lining the fest twice so early in what is sure to be a lengthy career.