Sunday, September 18, 2011
Saturday at Austin City Limits: Stevie Wonder, Cee Lo Green, and Skrillex (September 17)
Young and old alike enjoyed Stevie Wonder, the biggest headliner of the festival. The same can't be said for Cee Lo Green.
Read about day three of Austin City Limits featuring Arcade Fire, AWOLNATION, and more, here.
AUSTIN Day two of Austin City Limits was all about club stylings, offering the '80s infused Cut Copy, the spunky duo Chromeo, and currently trending Skrillex. Then, fans counted down for the legendary Stevie Wonder's set, which didn't disappoint.
Austin City Limits began to take a dangerous turn as Skrillex fans, mostly of the teenage persuasion, began to make their way to the Google+ Stage in the light rain that lingered around for most of the day. As early as an hour before the show was scheduled to begin, fans were pushed against the railing and many were helped, or forced, over the gate by security to save from being crushed or worse. Turning around to get out of the dense crowd was not an option. No one was allowed in the pit for safety reasons.
When Skrillex took the stage, the crowd went wild for his high energy electronic, dub step beats that shook most of the park with its throbbing bass lines. Skrillex's music was so loud that it even cut off Alison Krauss & Union Station's performance down the way, frustrating fans of the popular bluegrass band. Skrillex fans danced and even head banged, as if Skrillex's music was heavy metal for hipsters. Audience members nearly broke out in a mosh pit, making the Skrillex show a wall-to-wall party.
The anticipation of Cee Lo's ACL performance reached a fever pitch as the sun made its way out of the dreary rain clouds just minutes before his performance. Fans cheered his name and went crazy as he made his way to the mic to perform all the hits that made him famous.
Backed by a band of attractive women in skin tight cat suits, Cee Lo gave a mediocre performance. He has been known to dress in extravagant costumes a la Elton John for his shows, but for ACL, he donned a black Adidas track suit and a gold chain. His music is fun with its catchy hooks and its infectious beats, but onstage, that energy didn't translate.
Dedicating the show to those who lost their homes in the Bastrop wildfires, and to those the were still "surviving and jiving," Cee Lo invited one of Austin's own on the stage to perform his biggest and catchiest hit yet, "Fuck You." Nakia, a blues singer and contestant from The Voice is who well-known to Austinites, shared the stage and nearly upstaged Cee Lo with his soulful vocals. Dressed similarly to Meat Loaf during his Bat Out of Hell era -- red scarf included -- Nakia received applause almost as loud as the man himself would have.
The show ended quickly, leaving many festivalgoers with a smile on their face and a catchy tune in their heads.
After the rain had passed finally passed, Chromeo took the stage and began the biggest dance party of the day. The ACL set was only days after the duo’s good friend, DJ Mehdi, died from a tragic accident. They postponed their Dallas show a few days before ACL. But in Austin, P-Thugg and Dave 1 played an energetic set that could get anyone moving.
The crowds were eager to dance, helping Chromeo start off strong with “Two Step.” P-Thugg used his words wisely, only talking to get the fans screaming and jumping to their music. This was the year of electro for ACL: Many dj-inspired, electro-heavy artists had a full audience of eager fans ready to party. Towards the closing, Dave 1 sentimentally dedicated a song to DJ Mehdi that they had done together entitled “I Am Somebody."
Each year, Austin City Limits outdoes itself when it books a headliner. This year's pick, Stevie Wonder, may have confused a few youngsters, but Wonder proved exactly why he is a legend during his two-hour performance.
He started 20 minutes late with a keytar and a smile. A string of jam sessions ensued, leading Wonder to lie on his back, pounding away at his keyboard. He repeatedly told uplifting stories of hope and faith to the sold-out crowd.
A magical cover of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” reminded everyone that this was not just a tribute to a fellow musician; this was a moment for his close friend. His fingers flew over the keys in a way that only a tenured player's can. Young and old fans sang along to his songs.
Although Wonder played subdued ballads such as “I Believe (When I Fall in Love it Will Be Forever),” the audience’s buzz stayed high. They were hungry for foot-stomping singles like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” and the funky “I Wish.” He showed us he can still get down, swinging his head in that signature way. He also spiced it up by climbing on top of the piano, erupting a roaring cheer from the masses.
With so many hits, Wonder's set created a collective party rare for its size. Wonder interacted more than expected, talking smack about how Texans say "Stevie" and joking abut how good he looks. There is nothing outdated about this Motown legend.
As the crowds began to settle, Wonder played the songs everyone had been waiting for: “I Just Called to Say I Love You” and “My Cherie Amour.” Boyfriends chose this time to slow dance with their dates. Wonder's silky notes translated the words seductively and sweetly.
He played 20 minutes over, making up for any time lost and left with “Isn’t She Lovely." His grace swept the thousands of fans off of their feet, delivering a performance that will be remembered for years to come.