The remaining ACL attendees at the end of Day Two of the fest were not gathered around a stage or a musician, but a television. After Chance the Rapper and the Red Hot Chili Peppers concluded their sets, hundreds of football fans packed into the Beer Hall to watch the Texas Longhorns defeat Kansas State. It was a remarkable moment, and an odd way to end a music-filled day.
Earlier in the afternoon, bands with small-ish, devoted followings rocked their crowds across Zilker Park, through A$AP Ferg’s complex bars to Thundercat’s funky rhythm. With rarely a beer-less hand in sight, fans flocked to see their favorite yet-to-be-mainstream artists, while they can still like them before they’re cool.
But as the sun started to set, a hip-hop legend took the American Express stage. Ice Cube, who knew his audience, mocked the perception of him early on into his set.
“Ice Cube?” the rapper said. “Ain’t that the guy from the movies and the Coors Light commercials?”
Like Jay-Z from the night previous, Ice Cube is a rapper who makes art for a black audience, and he had no intention of pretending that was his ACL crowd. Though he mocked, poked and prodded, he also delivered a powerhouse of a performance, dominating the stage in a way only decades of experience could’ve prepared him for.
Just minutes after one of rap music’s most influential individuals left the stage, a newer one entered on the other side of the park. Chance the Rapper’s control of the audience, traditional smoke and lights in combination with his trademark earnesty left the crowd entranced. When Chance said jump, the ground was shaking in seconds; when Chance asked for phone lights, it was daylight at 9 p.m.; and when Chance asked for fans to sing along, his background chorus grew from five to 5,000.
Gospel-influenced tones aren’t what one typically expects from one of the last shows of the night, but Chance the Rapper knows what he’s doing. He jumped around from one genre to the next, sometimes within songs. The way he paced the concert was mesmerizing, as he would sing a slow song, then a quicker gospel-style track and leap directly into 16 bars of complex rhymes. Though he ended early, most fans didn’t mind, as the passion Chance the Rapper displayed left the audience exhausted faster than normal.
As people finally shuffled out, eyes glazed over from seeing their favorite artists perform and their favorite team win a big game, a different kind of song rang out over the lawn of Zilker Park:
“The eyes of Texas are upon you…”