Photo of Jay-Z performing at Austin City Limits Music Festival, by Greg Noire
Austin City Limits Music Festival kicked off the first day of its first weekend on Friday with big performances from Jay-Z, The xx, Solange and Martin Garrix. But coming just five days after the Las Vegas massacre, safety was on a lot of people's minds.
Police chief Brian Manley said his department had re-evaluated its security plans after the Vegas attack, even bringing in state troopers to work onsite alongside the city's force. “I think Las Vegas will make every city and every agency re-evaluate security plans around large events that draw large crowds,” Chief Manley said.
"I've had a lot of contemplation," said singer James Vincent McMorrow, speaking with Variance on Friday. "I think everybody has ... What are you supposed to do? You come to the festivals and you show up and you trust that good people—better heads—will prevail ultimately. It's all you can do."
According to festival spokesperson Sandee Fenton, organizers estimate around 75,000 people will be attending the fest daily, with about 225,000 total over the weekend. The festival said earlier this week, "Safety has always been our top priority."
Throughout the first day, the likes of ROMES, Missio, MUTEMATH, The Lemon Twigs, James Vincent McMorrow, Skepta, Crystal Castles, Foster the People, Ryan Adams, The Revivalists and more took a mix of seven different stages.
For an like ROMES, their performance came the same day their self-titled debut album was released. They're actually on tour now with MUTEMATH. Meanwhile, Missio and The Lemon Twigs are having an incredible year right now, swiftly rising through the alt-rock and festival circuit.
Skepta's 5:15 p.m. set was perhaps one of the day's most impressive—yet not all that surprising—as he drew a massive, enthusiastic crowd. His two-weekend ACL stint is one of his few 2017 shows following his album Konnichiwa, which was one of Variance's Best of 2016.
Later in the evening, Solange closed out the Barton Springs stage with a glowing performance. And while she started about 20 minutes late, she made up for it with an energetic show, punching through every high note while dancing her way across the stage.
Closing out the night was The xx on the Honda stage, unfortunately scheduled opposite Jay-Z across the park. They joked they were fully prepared to come out and perform for just a few people. But there actually thousands gathered as the British trio delivered a simmering set under the moonlight.
Over at the American Express stage, the crowd was roaring for Jay-Z. And while many fans were arguably hoping for a Beyoncé sighting, Jay seemed comfortable on stage all by himself, joking around and hyping up the crowd with plenty of Texas references and hit after hit, while still zeroing in on his 4:44 material.
Of course, in light of recent events and a seemingly steady stream of devastating headlines, Jay—who has been vocal in support for Colin Kaepernick and rallied his streaming platform Tidal to send a cargo plane with 200,000 pounds of supplies to Puerto Rico—noted "there's a lot going on in the world" as he paused between songs.
"Love will always conquer hate," he declared, then repeating to crowd that he believed good would overcome, despite the many recent tragedies.
See photos from select performances of day 1 below, by Dan DeSlover unless otherwise noted.