As cities across America experience unusual October weather, the first day of Austin City Limits Music Festival was no exception, with record high temperatures for the start of the Austin fest, held all weekend long in Zilker Park.
In some ways, it was a bit of a soft opening for one of the city's biggest music events, as the gates opened a whole hour late, at noon rather than at the planned 11 a.m. entry time. Crowds were quickly growing restless, with just minutes before the first acts of the day took the stage.
Despite the delay, the day moved forward with a relatively low-key, no-frills lineup, starting with alternative act Houses, long a Variance favorite, along with FIDLAR and Scarypoolparty.
By mid-afternoon, as the sun pounded the park with the day's most blistering heat, festival organizers delivered some bad news to fans: Lil Uzi Vert, who has had a tendency to cancel performances in the past, would be a no-show for ACL as well. Instead, Jai Wolf, who performed earlier in the afternoon, would also fill in for Uzi's evening set on the Honda stage.
This being Texas, country music is certainly welcomed with open arms at ACL. And for day 1, Tyler Childers delivered a rich, old school sound, trudging through some sound and production issues with the heat surely straining on him. But he persisted.
Over at the Honda stage, King Princess shined as she offered up a balmy, dazzling performance which almost seemed to bring with it a blissful breeze as she gave fans light-hearted renditions of her material.
Other afternoon standouts included K.Flay, Kaytranada and The Comet Is Coming, all of whom brought riveting performances to Zilker.
As the evening approached, Jack White and The Raconteurs took the stage and seemed to turn a slow-burning Friday into more of a party, with amped up energy and blazing guitars filling up the park. It was also great to see the usually dark and mysterious White performing under the scorching sun with an equally sunny and upbeat demeanor.
Ahead of the night's headliners, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke's Tomorrow's Modern Boxes was up at the Miller Lite stage, bringing a hazy, psychedelic performance to the stage just in time to flow into Tame Impala next door at the Honda.
By the time Kevin Parker's Tama Impala took the stage, the sun had set and the temperature had finally dipped below 90 degrees for the first time the entire day. Fans roared as the band took the stage and essentially kicked off an hour-long dance party, surrounded by thousands of fans laying on the grass, smoking it, making out or simply swaying under the stars. It was a perfect way to end the night.
But the night wasn't complete without the big finale from headliners Guns N' Roses, who performed for nearly two and a half hours almost seamlessly, taking the crowd through a journey of their hits and even mixing in a number of covers, such as their take on songs from Misfits and Bob Dylan.
After a brutally hot day, there was something so satisfying about seeing Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan back together, even returning to the stage at the end of their set for a two-song encore of "Don't Cry" and "Paradise City."
While the festival landscape continues to shift and largely pursue younger audiences, having Guns N' Roses atop Friday's lineup was easily a very good decision.