Austin’s full band hip-hop act, Magna Carda continues to evolve, not gradually, but in leaps and bounds. When we made the crew, Austin360 Artist of the Month in February, they were a solid live band riding high on the release of their debut full-length, “CirQlation.” Then they hit the road, cluttering their 2016 calendar with festival appearances and one-offs around the country.
When they took the stage at 11:30 a.m. for their Austin City Limits Festival debut, they were a tighter, meaner and sweeter outfit. The band was rock solid and though some of the jams meandered a bit, they beautifully folded hints of jazz and bluesy licks into rich, full grooves. Emcee Megz Kelli has come into her own as a rhymeslinger and she absolutely slayed the early afternoon crowd. She brought the party vibes with “Southern Ether,” did a heart-stopping a capella on “The Root” and took the set a with a blistering take on “Angela Basset.”
As Magna Carda finished, indie pop outfit Charlie Belle took the stage in the Tito’s tent. With catchy melodies and quick-witted lyricism, the teen band helmed by brother/sister duo Jendayi and Gyasi Bonds caught national heat last year with a pair of tightly produced EPs. In their ACL Fest set, they abandoned the twee vibe that marked some of their early 2015 sets for a harder, driving sound. They rocked and they rocked hard.
The two of these bands together represented the fantastic diversity of high quality music coming out of Austin’s City Limits in 2016. They did our city so, so proud.