Weekend one of Austin City Limits (ACL) has officially come to a close, but the memories made by fans and bands alike will not soon be forgotten. Despite recent tragedy and loss in the music world, people flocked to Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, in great numbers, proving just how strong the music community truly is. Whether it was to spend time with friends and loved ones, escape the mundane, enter the surreal or relive old memories, this past weekend had no shortage of great performances. And within those performances, no shortage of memories reminisced and tributes offered to the late Tom Petty.
Friday night closed with a powerful set by Jay-Z, featuring a tribute to the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and a sobering rendition of Jay-Z’s hit “Young Forever,” among numerous others. Fans stretched as far as the eye could see even before the nearly 50-year-old rapper took the stage and continued to grow in numbers as The xx closed out their performance across the park. Opening with “Run This Town” off the 2009 album “The Blueprint 3,” Jay-Z began to venture through his impressive discography, featuring tracks from “In My Lifetime, Vol. 1,” “Magna Carta… Holy Grail,” “The Blueprint,” “The Black Album” and his latest release “4:44.”
To close out the set, Jay-Z honored the recent loss of Chester Bennington of Linking Park with a rendition of their very successful collaboration, “Numb/Encore.” Delicately gliding through his various verses and features in the track, Jay-Z carefully kept the spotlight on Bennington and reminded the crowd to keep in touch with friends and family because some of the darkest struggles we face are internalized and can surface at any time. Perfectly placed in succession after the tribute, Jay-Z moved into “Young Forever” with lights dimmed and the audio slowly drifting into the distance. By the end of the song, only the crowd’s voices could be heard singing “Forever young . . . I want to be, forever young . . . Do you really want to live forever? Forever, and ever . . .” And what would a Jay-Z show be without the fan-favorite “99 Problems” as the final encore.
Saturday night’s Red Hot Chili Peppers’ performance marked five years since the group graced ACL with its presence back in 2012. Despite competing with the “red hot,” Chance the Rapper, for the evening headline-slot, the rock-funk group was able to draw fans both old and new to their nearly two-hour performance. As expected, the band’s energy was off-the-charts for every minute of the performance with bassist, Flea, jumping, rocking, rolling and bobbing and singer, Anthony Kiedis touching every corner of the stage as they played hits like “Dani California,” “Suck My Kiss” and “Aeroplane.” Even between songs, the group “jammed” with each other, rocked improvised solos, and made mini-collaborations to avoid ever having a moment of silence. With respect continuing to be made to the recently passed Tom Petty, the group’s guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, entered the stage solo to bring the encore and performed a sad and pensive rendition of the music-legend’s “A Face in the Crowd.” Picking the tempo up shortly after, the Red Hot Chili Peppers closed the night out with a rambunctious performance of “Give it Away.”
Sunday night’s performance by the Killer’s could not have been more perfect – both the actual performance and the timing. Hailing from the recently devastated community of Las Vegas and claiming great influence from Tom Petty, the group opened their set with a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl.” To say the crowd went wild is an understatement. Fans immediately knew what was in store when the opening riff was played and emphatically shouted every “Oh yeah” and “all right” as if they were trying to connect with Petty one last time. At the close of this heartwarming cover, lead singer Brandon Flowers, took a moment to address the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, the impact that music has had in his life both on and off stage and the impact that music will continue to have despite the recent losses suffered by the Las Vegas community.
“Don’t you ever let some motherf*cker keep you from doing what you love,” Flowers said.
To the crowd’s surprise, the group then went into their mega-hit “Mr. Brightside” and picked the energy back up to a new level for the evening. Having just released a new album, “Wonderful Wonderful,” the band delicately mixed in tracks from recent release with crowd-favorites from years past. After running through hits like “Smile Like You Mean It,” “Human” and “Somebody Told Me,” the group returned to yet another Tom Petty cover of “The Waiting” and noted that they would love to cover more of his music if they knew how play it.
The group finished out the main portion of their set with “All These Things That I’ve Done” featuring the famous breakdown of militant drums and chords combined with a repetition of “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier.” Upon returning for the encore, the Killers closed out the evening, the festival, and another chapter in the ACL books with “The Man,” “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” and “When You Were Young.”