London breakout pop duo AlunaGeorge offer crisp, bounce-laden club bites. Rocking a leather jacket and a throwback Bone Thugs-N-Harmony T-shirt Saturday afternoon at the HomeAway stage, singer Aluna Francis brought the wattage that makes hip girls sing into their Snapchats to forge a connected, vibrant FOMO moment.
“Ladies let me ask you something,” she said. “Who’s in control?”
It was an empowering and almost rhetorical question, and this band makes towering hits. Producer George Reid’s electronic dance beats are for international discos, and fused with Caribbean breakdowns. (Drake buddy Popcaan even guests on “I’m In Control.”) Sometimes Francis plays the cowbell for added exclamation-point dings. At ACL, it’s almost enough for audience members at the stage-right margins to abandon personal conversations and watch.
Hell, the DJ Snake feature “You Know You Like It” has 220 million Spotify streams. These guys are wildly famous. But the band was also here without a clear fanbase, and ran on sympathetic party people. Jams inspired half-hearted hands in the air. As the rain began to simmer for the first time at ACL ’16, Francis’s smooth charisma kept us in place as the band plowed through cuts from September’s “I Remember” album.
Truth told, this reporter took a breather and had a seat. Music for everyone can be a wash. Though any ACL lifer lamenting the thematic overhaul that turned this stage into a pop shop–count Iggy Azalea, G-Eazy, and Lorde among past ACL acts who have hit this window–should appreciate its consistently opportunistic timing. And in the brewing festival rush between buzz acts and famous faces, as clusters of friends split and paused for dinner, AlunaGeorge changed the guard with impeccable chops.
“My Blood” was the sexy, bass-dropping banger that inspired twerking. Patrons went loose–sufficiently warmed up for ACL’s Saturday night of live rap. “To U” was the Skrillex feature that everyone knew from their workout playlists. “You Know You Like It” was the predictably strong closer, complete with live samples.