Saint Motel shimmers in summer eternal at ACL Fest

A/J Jackson of Saint Motel sings to fans in the middle of the crowd at the Honda Stage during ACL Fest on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

A/J Jackson of Saint Motel sings to fans in the middle of the crowd at the Honda Stage during ACL Fest on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

Overnight cold front be damned: As far as Saint Motel is concerned, it’s always summer at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

The Los Angeles band plays loud-and-proud pop music that’s bright enough to outshine even a clear and sunny day in Zilker Park. For the second Saturday in a row, they stirred up a sizable early-afternoon crowd on the Honda stage, happy to entertain and eager to get their throngs of fans dancing, clapping and singing along.

It helps that frontman A/J Jackson (yes, that slash is supposed to be there) is an unstoppable frontman. Full of energy and charisma, he switched between keyboards, guitar and simply storming the stage with a microphone during the band’s hourlong set. The only exception was when he left the stage and sprinted down into the audience, using the barrier-constructed alleyway to dash back toward the sound board in the middle of the crowd, high-fiving with gleeful fans along the way.

“We come for the flags, we stay for the music,” Jackson cracked early on, marveling props such as an inflatable dinosaur that he spotted in surveying the grounds from the stage. With keyboards, trumpet and saxophone punctuating the rhythm section’s steady and often thunderous beats, Jackson consistently delivered captivating vocal performances on fan favorites including “Getaway,” “Born Again” and the recent single “Move” from the band’s soon-to-be-released sophomore album “saintmotelevision.”

He got nostalgic for a moment, too, noting that ACL Fest brethren such as Young the Giant were among the acts that Saint Motel often shared stages with in Los Angeles on their way up. And when they closed with “My Type,” the title track to their 2014 EP, they got the whole place literally hopping when Jackson called out, “I want to see everyone jump!”

Fall will get here soon enough. In the meantime, it’ll always be summer at Saint Motel.


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