Going head to head against a big-attraction act like Jay-Z is not an enviable task for any festival performer, but The XX is doing it for the second weekend in a row at ACL Fest 2017.
“You could be at Jay-Z, but you’re here — and it means the world to us,” bassist and co-vocalist Oliver Sim said.
But for super-fans of The XX at ACL Fest, the decision was an easy one.
Cody Salas of El Paso was up front and center at the Honda Stage shortly after the gates opened Friday camping out for The XX. While he’s also a Jay-Z fan, he decided to wait more than 9 hours for the British trio. “I’m not very tall, so it’s better for me to be at the front,” he said. Camping out for a clear view is nothing new to Salas, who did the same thing for Cage the Elephant last year, an approach he said he prefers to hopping around and hanging at the back. The secret to a successful stakeout? Stock up on provisions and “bring something to cover your face [to protect from the sun].”
Cassie Paul said she heard Jay-Z’s set last weekend underwhelmed, so she opted to see The XX with her super-fan husband. “I heard Jay-Z ate La Barbecue last weekend … Maybe that was his problem: the meat sweats,” Cassie joked.
Cassie’s husband Reuben Paul only made it out to one show today: The XX. When I asked if it was a hard choice between Jay-Z and The XX, he laughed. “No! If there was one song I could listen to on repeat forever, it would be [The XX’s] ‘Intro.’ Their stuff is such a groover.”
“It sinks into your body,” friend Meredith Gramann chimed in. “It’s not that I’m not a Jay-Z fan, but I’d rather see The XX.”
While the crowd gathered for the moody indie act was a bit more narrow and shallow than Jay-Z’s expansive sea of fans at the east end of Zilker Park, it’s worth noting that Ryan Adams’ crowd also seemed light for an act at the 7:15 p.m. slot at the neighboring Miller Lite Stage. Either Jay-Z was such a big draw as to pull crowds from even earlier sets, or maybe more indie-leaning artists just aren’t as much of a must-see for ACL Fest hip-hop fans this year.