The last day of Austin City Limits Music Festival weekend 1 was a big one.
Almost from start to finish, there was hardly a weak spot in the lineup, which was most certainly dominated by female acts. Early in the day, The Japanese House crushed a sun-drenched set on the Vrbo stage, tucked in its own corner of the festival, allowing fans to enjoy the performance and maybe hang back and catch some shade. Meanwhile, Delacey, a singer-songwriter who's written for a number of other artists, shined with a glistening set on the Tito's Handmade Vodka stage.
Also early in the afternoon was Variance favorite DUCKWRTH, who's currently on the road opening for Billie Eilish, who performed the day before. He gave a riveting, rockstar level performance on the T-Mobile stage. That led us to Bea Miller, who was performing on the Miller Lite stage. While she's a familiar voice to radio listeners, she's been delving into moodier into pop lately. And she successfully managed to balance it out, showcasing her strengths in both realms, closing out the set with her massive NOTD collaboration "I Wanna Know," which electrified the audience.
Next up was Shura, the English singer who recently released her second album Forevher. It was perhaps both a blessing and a curse that there were so many trees circling the grounds near the Vrbo stage, yet all with significant distance from the stage itself, meaning the faithful fanship clustered near the front and clamored to touch the singer when she came down to greet them, but even more crammed in under the trees to hide from the blistering sun. It didn't keep Shura from stirring up a massive dance party and showing her incredible prowess, both in vocals and instrumentation.
Later in the afternoon, the ladies continued to lead, with Spanish singer ROSALÍA conquering the Honda stage, surrounded by dancers and bringing her own heat to Zilker Park. The dance party continued with Aussie DJ FISHER's mammoth set on the T-Mobile stage, while alt-pop singer BANKS dazzled the Miller Lite stage with a moody yet simply mesmerizing set.
When 6 p.m. hit, it was Kacey Musgraves' turn at the American Express stage, which would later host headliners Mumford & Sons. But first, it was quite literally the Golden Hour, as the sun created a glow over Zilker just before setting. The Grammy winner for Album of the Year received a massive welcome from fans as she treated them to live renditions of her fan favorites, setting the perfect mood for a lighthearted final day of the fest.
All the while, a mind-blowing, absolutely incredible crowd was building on the other size of the park for Lizzo, who came out onto the Miller Stage to monstrous roars cheering for the former Texas resident. While not quite a headliner, the crowd, the performance, the excitement, the energy—it was all worthy of a top-lining set. Of course, festival organizers may have underestimated her draw at the time of booking.
She was clearly overwhelmed at times as she looked out into the crowd, which stretched back pretty much as far as the eye could see, covering the grounds in front of the nearby Honda stage and overflowing into the Beer Hall next door.
As she continues to skyrocket to superstardom, Lizzo nodded to the crowd size multiple times, at one point calling it possibly the biggest audience for which she's ever performed. And the crowd never wavered, from her opening shout of "Hallelujah" to her closing trio of songs, she had everyone in the palm of her hand throughout.
Before launching into her single "Good as Hell," she reminded people that women come in all sizes and it's OK to be curvy. And when the music started, it seemed as if the entire audience was singing along with her, right into her No. 1 hit "Truth Hurts," which somehow found the crowd joining in even more loudly. "No. 1 song in the country, bitch!" she shouted as she finished, humbly thanking the crowd for their support and then sneaking in one final track: "Juice."
It all built up to what was supposed to be the big finale: Cardi B taking the Honda stage next door just five minutes after Lizzo's own spectacular finish. Instead, the thousands already gathered for both Cardi and Lizzo crammed in, but when 8 p.m. hit, nothing happened. A couple minutes later, the stage lights flickered, but still nothing. It didn't take long for sweaty, tired fans to grow weary, speculating if she the "Money" rapper would actually show.
Around 8:15 p.m., various chants sprouted up, from "Fuck Cardi B" to "Bring back Lizzo." At one point, some fans near the front of the crowd where we were suggested rush the stage. That idea luckily didn't gain traction, despite the audience becoming more restless. Around 30 minutes after the scheduled start time, the smoke machines cranked up and an ad for Netflix's Rhythm + Flow competition show (starring Cardi, Chance the Rapper and T.I.) began to play as a lead-in (and perhaps time-buying mechanism) for the actual performance.
But once Cardi started, she was blazing, with razor sharp delivery and crisp choreography, commanding the stage and showing why she's the top rap star of the moment. By the time, she charged into her hit "Money," the crowd was going wild, clearly having mostly forgiven her for the extended wait.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, Cardi didn't really acknowledge that she had been late at all, although she did note how much people in Texas love her. And toward the end of her short set, she also pointed out this would be her last show for a while, because "I'm going to record my album," she said, to massive cheers.