SXSW artist to watch: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya

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When we talk about Nnamdi Ogbonnaya one day, I hope that we get to say “I saw him in a tiny room at South by Southwest one time.”

The Chicago rapper pulled faces and confounded genre inside Sidewinder for a late-night showcase that, considering the less-than-massive crowd in the less-than-massive space, felt like a special secret. Ogbonnaya and his band gave the crowd hip-hop, jazz, absolutely shredded garage rock and even an emo moment. Also: air horns.

“Chaka Khan followed me on Instagram today!” Ogbonnaya proudly exclaimed about what he called the greatest day of his life. The announcement was followed by the “pew-pew-pew-peeeeewww” that you’re used to hearing at a Fader Fort rap collective gig. Sidewinder could use more airhorns all the time, honestly.

Ogbonnaya’s barely contained madcap electricity charmed endlessly. “Don’t Turn Me Off” best summed up the artist’s talents: soft-spoken but agile flow; high-octane rock chops that made you either back away from the speakers or crowd closer to them; and an ever-percolating face that changed expressions on beat.  Later on, “Honey on the Low” pulsed with cool charisma and shoulder shakes. “MMMM MMMM MMM(i’m finninin((dookielipz))),” a song by Nnamdi’ Super Secret Side Project that I will not attempt to format in this publication’s house style, unleashed Ogbonnaya from his post, its gross-out lyrics propelling him into the audience and inspiring some a mic-dangling rockstar stunt.

LOOKING FOR SOME FUN? CHECK THE SXSW SIDE PARTY GUIDE

Worth appreciating at 1 a.m.: the sensitive side of Ogbonnaya. No drippy Drake R&B here. Early in the set, Ogbonnaya took a moment to transform into a quiet-voiced marvel, repeating “I am deceptively strong” in a small voice while his searching eyes tip-toed across the room. On “Me 4 Me,” the artist confessed “I want someone who will love me for me, not the person that you think I ought to be,” a low-key heartbreaker that cut straight to the quick. And a yearning and math-rock-y “Should Have Known,” toward the end of the set honestly wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a mixtape with Minus the Bear and TTNG.

But “Let Go of My Ego,” which Fader called the “catchiest song of 2017 you still haven’t heard yet,” sealed the deal on the Nnamdi Ogbonnaya that you could see taking over the world. With a playful sound D.R.A.M. wishes he thought of, a wit that Danny Brown would admire and a willingness to turn the party that Andrew W.K. would proudly nod at, Ogbonnaya showed star power that’s way bigger than the inside of that tiny club.

 

Gemma Ray played her guitar with a knife at SXSW. That sums it up, yeah?

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Let’s call it desperado pop: Music you play with a knife stuck to the front of your guitar.

One second you’re in an Episcopal church in downtown Austin with Gemma Ray, and the next you’re glaring suspiciously at the next booth over in a last-chance diner. Or, maybe you’re on the bone-dry highway somewhere between here and El Paso, with a grudge sitting in your passenger seat and a sidearm sitting in your glove box. Heck, you could also be in the midst of a gin-soaked tryst between a Brylcreemed man in a slim-fit suit and a woman with Jackie O hair and Maybelline-streaked cheeks.

(Photo by Eric Webb/American-Statesman)

That’s what Germany-based “pop-noir heroine” Ray does to your mind, if you have an active imagination. Playing a South by Southwest showcase Tuesday at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary, Ray overcame some fritzy sound woes to deliver a transporting performance worthy of the coming dusk outside the church’s historic walls.

With a voice that sounded less like a wound and more like a particularly clean scar, Ray sang about anxiety and hoping there’s something “more than this.” Her guitar work stalked through the space with high noon theatricality. All woozy twang and insistent rhythm, it’s the kind of music that makes you pretty sure you’re going to have to go defend your dead loved one’s honor in some gulch. Even when that faulty sound ended a song with an unintentional sizzle, it added a little industrial edge that didn’t seem at all out of place.

Though it likely owed something to a shared space on the 1960s-influenced spectrum, Ray’s dangerous shadow-rock brought to mind the flip-side of the same coin that First Aid Kit’s sundress folk lives on. In the last third of her set, Ray descended into a jam session, a mad Watusi with the devil, before taking the knife out and running it up and down and back and forth on her strings. Her frenzy ended in a smile.

What, you thought the knife was a metaphor?

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SXSW 2018: Get your sneak peek inside Fader Fort and check out the lineup

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Fader Fort, that most beloved of side venues that calls Austin home during South by Southwest, opens up on Wednesday. Just like last year, it’s a guest-list-only event, with invitations sent by email. If you didn’t get your golden ticket (or you did and you’re impatient), we got a sneak peek on Tuesday inside the Fort’s new home on East Seventh Street.

There is, of course, that black-and-white stage you’ve come to know and respect.

(Eric Webb photos/American-Statesman)

There is also the “Jack Daniel’s Salon Barbershop,” featuring local guest barbers and a complimentary “Jack-inspired hairstyling or cut.” There’s a wheel you can spin, too, to help make that tough decision a little easier/more rock ‘n’ roll.

As promised, there will also be paddle-powered fun from Spin, a ping pong social club with locations across the country, including one opening in Austin later this spring at 213 W. 5th St.

There will also be an activation from New Balance celebrating the “iconic New Balance 574 sneaker and its original grey colorway.” And drinks. Don’t forget the drinks.

Here’s Fader Fort’s 2018 lineup. Performance times will be announced each day, and so will “special guests.” If there’s one thing Fader Fort has traditionally loved, it’s “special guests.”

Wednesday March 14
Saweetie
JayDaYoungan
Cherrie
Superorganism
Knox Fortune
Billie Eilish
Valee
Speedy Ortiz

DJ sets by:
DJ Sober
Kitty Cash

Thursday, March 15
Palm
Molly Brazy
Juiceboxxx
G Perico
Snail Mail
YBN Nahmir
Soccer Mommy
Bun B
SOB X RBE

DJ sets by:
CRL CRRLL
Sonny Digital

Friday, March 16
Mimicking Birds
Courtney Marie Andrews
Now, Now
Bbymutha
Cuco
Mozzy
Pale Waves
BlocBoy JB

DJ sets by:
Angel + Dren
Osh Kosh
OG Ron C

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We stayed in bed all night, on stage, for SXSW’s 8-hour concert

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I slept with a lot of people Monday night.

Every year, I moan about how I stay out all night during South by Southwest, covering shows that end at 2 a.m. and writing reviews until 4 a.m. But as it turns out, I have been a dirty, rotten liar these past few years. The North American premiere of composer Max Richter’s Guinness World Record-setting “Sleep” promised literally what I’ve been talking about figuratively — an all-nighter.

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The premise of the festival’s opening night concert, which should join the annals of SXSW stunt fame next to that infamous giant Doritos machine from which Lady Gaga emerged in 2014:

  1. Go to Bass Concert Hall.
  2. Get into one of the Beautyrest beds that has been arranged onstage around a performance platform.
  3. Sleep, or meditate, or do whatever brand of existence suits you while gorgeous, ambient-leaning music is performed for 8 hours straight, all for your pillow-bound benefit.

See more photos from Max Richter’s 8-hour “Sleep”

For some reason, I was very excited to go to an 8-hour, overnight concert. I think it was the bed that sealed it.

When I queued up outside Bass, SXSW staff made their way down the line to make sure everyone knew what they were getting into. Two people near me in line, in fact, did not know what they were getting into. Others were so aware of the conceit of “Sleep” that they showed up in onesie pajamas.

When I entered the concert hall, I was surprised to see that 150 beds were actually lined up around the same stage on which I’ve seen more than a few Broadway musicals. Shell-shaped white lights, not yet illuminated, surrounded the perimeter of the performance platform in the middle, with an 8 a.m. wake-up call displayed on their face. Sounds of street traffic, the kind that have put me to sleep when I’ve slept on my friends’ couch in Brooklyn, floated through the space.

“The piece really has no rules,” Richter said, as part of brief remarks before the show began.

A shirtless pillow fight had erupted on the other side of the stage a bit before this. Richter, whose work has appeared in “The Leftovers” and “Black Mirror,” knows what’s up.

MORE FROM SXSW: Find things to do in our SXSW Side Party Guide

I wanted to stay up all night and document my descent into madness, hour by hour. Would I still be able to feel my extremities at 2 a.m.? Would I have gone full Christian-Bale-in-“The Machinist” by 3 a.m.? Would it be distracting when I unwrapped a protein bar at 4 a.m.?

Richter had other plans for my REM cycle, however.

“Here comes ‘Sleep,'” he said, “and we’ll see you on the other side.”

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12:13 a.m.: As the show began, Richter’s fingers danced across the piano keys in a melancholy 1-2 step, the peace punctured every six notes by a cascading pulse of bass. The pink lights hanging from the rafters dried out my eyes and my lips the longer I sat on my bed. I did not anticipate feeling like a rotisserie chicken for this experience.

12:22 a.m.: Most people who started out sitting realized they were in beds and either laid down or reclined. Strings began to swell and gently race. Those hot pink lights began to dim. I might have skin after all this is over, I thought. The first person began to snore. Weak, man.

12:42 a.m.: You know that thing where you can’t sleep, and you look at the clock thinking it’s been at least two hours, and you realize that it’s only been a few minutes since you last looked? Very that. I put my head on my pillow, since it’s hard to sit up straight in a bed for 30 minutes. I heard my second snorer.

12:52 a.m.: A lady began singing. I am watching a lot of “Teen Wolf” lately, so I knew she was a banshee and death was imminent. I hoped it came for the shirtless pillow fighters first.

MORE FROM SXSW: So many bands! Our music team makes some SXSW recommendations

2:35 a.m.: No.

Richter had ensorcelled me into slumber with his ambient soundscapes and lush string arrangements. Waking up from some kind of dream that I immediately could not remember, I saw that almost everyone around me had fallen prey to the same fate. Richter was alone on his laptops, and the sound in the room had fully transitioned into a surreal, otherworldly plane. I pledged to stay awake.

4:24 a.m.: Dang it all to heck.

4:53 a.m.: I thought to myself, in a note on my phone that later looked much more incoherent than it seemed when I wrote it, that this experience felt like the movie “Flatliners.” That made sense at the time, when I was in a colony of bed-drones.

6:10 a.m.: Every time I drifted to sleep and fell back into consciousness, I was slightly disturbed that I could not remember my dreams. I did realize, however, that trying to stay awake was never really the point of “Sleep.” It’s designed to relax, to lull, to carry you across the divide between waking and slumber like the mythical ferryman Charon, shepherding souls down across the River Styx. I had read a critic call the movie “Annihilation” a “spiritual prompt.” In my half-lucid haze, this seems to better fit the bill. I also think a lot about Greek mythology and Natalie Portman movies when I’m delirious?

MORE FROM SXSW: The many faces of Tiffany Haddish on the red carpet at SXSW

7:14 a.m.: I woke up, this time for keeps. Richter’s graceful, methodical piano march had circled back to its starting point in the last hour, alongside that clockwork bass. The ambient tones against which I’d struggled to keep my head above water, the string quintet that had enchanted me out of my waking mind like five Pied Pipers: It was all a tide you really couldn’t beat back. And perhaps you shouldn’t have tried.

I noticed more snoring than there was the first hour. One man was meditating. I clocked a few empty beds.

8 a.m.: Those shell-shaped lights had come on, and the woman with the haunting voice was back. By 8:13 a.m., the performance came to an end, and as if it was planned — maybe it was — someone’s iPhone alarm chirped. Everyone sat in dead silence until Richter turned around from his piano bench to a standing ovation. We clapped the performers all the way out the door.

I thought I would feel like hammered garbage after an all-night concert. When I walked out into the chilly daylight on the University of Texas campus, I felt calm and rested. More so than normal, in fact. Now, how am I gonna get Max Richter to come to my studio apartment every night?

Fader Fort is coming back for SXSW 2018 with a line-up of up-and-comers

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It has brought Drake, Miley Cyrus and more to Austin over the years. In 2017, it put a pre-world-domination Cardi B on the stage. It’s Fader Fort, one of the most popular South by Southwest pop-up venues, and it’s coming back for 2018.

Fader Fort during South by Southwest on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.
Erika Rich for American-Statesman

The guest-list-only event, organized by music magazine The Fader, will set up shop at 1501 E. 7th St. on March 14-16, according to a news release. Featured performers include SOB X RBE, BbyMutha, Now Now, YBN Nahmir, Mozzy and Soccer Mommy, with more to be announced.

Installations at this year’s Fader Fort will include the “Jack Daniel’s Salon Barbershop,” featuring local guest barbers and a complimentary “Jack-inspired hairstyling or cut.” (We’ve known whiskey to inspire a few ill-advised inspirations, so we hope it’s more of a spiritual inspiration.) Spin, a New York-based ping pong bar coming to Austin later this year, will bring ping pong pros and interactive games to the fort. There will also be “an exclusive creative space” from Beats 1 and an activation from New Balance celebrating the “iconic New Balance 574 sneaker and its original grey colorway.” And yes, there will be drinks.

Last year, Fader Fort set up on East Sixth Street in a smaller space than its previous Pine Street Station home. Earlier this month, Fader released “Fader Fort: Setting the Stage,” a book celebrating its 15 years at SXSW.

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Review: And in that Austin moment, I swear Bon Iver was infinite

Call it close encounters of the bearded kind, or call it a UFO touching down from Wisconsin. But whatever you call Bon Iver’s live show, call it beautiful.

Bon Iver at ACL Live on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. (Photo by Roger Ho)

OK, yes, going to see Justin Vernon at ACL Live on Saturday involved him singing the word “butterflies” in a soulful falsetto, followed immediately by crowd cheers at the sold-out first night of three Austin shows. The zeitgeist’s perception of the 2011 Grammy winner for Best New Artist — cozy cabin vibes and sensitive high pitches — still checks out. So, too, does Vernon’s penchant for big, Auto-Tuned emotions and Kanye-adjacent sonic shapeshifting. But with 2016’s “22, A Million,” Bon Iver hit warp drive on his sound, stuffing those campfire acoustics and digitally tinted vocals into a fax machine and sending them to a place gilded with noise and moonglow.

Bon Iver at ACL Live on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. (Photo by Roger Ho)

And so, Vernon and his band conjured the kind of evening that puts your whole body into play. (A couple plumes of pot smoke, clocked by the singer, accounted for the night’s olfactory appeals.) Surrounded by zig-zags of lightbulbs and streaks of spotlight, “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄” (sorry, casual readers, the song titles in this review are gonna be a whole thing) pulsed with jags of sound, their edges torn off in your ears. Your body was enveloped in bass, that familiar crossroad between cacophony and sensation. The apples of your cheeks quivered and your ears tingled. Vernon sang “Love, don’t fight it,” and you thought that you were probably the love in question, because you wondered how you could possibly hope to resist.

Then “666 ʇ,” anthemic between a game-show-lightning-round beat and horns that filled your chest, thundered with cryptic confusion. Vernon’s falsetto is truly chilling in person, daring you to laugh about it, if you were the kind of person who would. The song “33 ‘GOD,'” my personal favorite “22, A Million” track, showed that the singer’s lower register was just as pleasing, though I would have been happier if he’d sang “Staying at the Ace Hotel” with the gusto I’ve grown accustomed to on the album.

Bon Iver at ACL Live on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. (Photo by Roger Ho)

That album plays with ideas of infinity and the divine, and Bon Iver’s show seemed recursive itself, with songs from all of the artist’s records bending into themselves. Thanks in no small part to liberal loop pedal, it should be mentioned. The unforgettable opening guitar on dreamlike “Perth” was stretched out long and made fluid. “Holocene,” its lyrics more intelligible than some tunes, stirred thoughts of your own magnificence, or lack thereof. “Minnesota, WI,” like so many other songs that night, skirted the edge of jam band territory. It percolated with bleeps and bloops that would make The Postal Service proud, and any time it seemed like it would end, you passed a musical marker you thought you’d passed ages ago. Time and space don’t exist in Bon Iver’s woods.

Bon Iver at ACL Live on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. (Photo by Roger Ho)

Austin, however, is bound by the laws of this reality. Vernon ended the night strong, tying the set up with a loop-happy “Woods” for both the “Blood Bank” and the Yeezy fans.”Aw, s***, there’s a lot of buttons up here,” he said after a false start. It was overwhelming, maybe even a little messy. But at that point, it was hard to tell what anything “should” sound like. An encore of “Skinny Love” was stripped down and singalong provoking. With “22 (OVER S∞∞N),” the point at which all the different shades of Bon Iver converged, the audience was left in rapturous applause. Vernon lingered on the stage, bowing in gratitude. He had just sang that “it might be over soon.” But really, performances like these echo on and on and on.

Bon Iver plays two more shows at ACL Live on Sunday and Monday.

So, Lady Gaga showed up to sing at Antone’s in Austin last night

Is there anything more Austin than a music superstar showing up for a surprise gig at a mystery venue? Yes, probably! But folks still love it when that happens, like with previous stealth performances by Garth Brooks and the Killers. Add Lady Gaga to the list.

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Wintle

After the “Million Reasons” singer blew the roof off of the Frank Erwin Center as part of the Joanne World Tour on Tuesday night, she stopped by Austin blues club Antone’s for an after-show, according to the singer and the venue on social media.

Yep, just like Austin360’s Deborah Sengupta Stith called it, Gaga joined musical collaborator Brian Newman for some fun after her regularly scheduled arena spectacle. One attendee at the show told Austin360 that the singer stuck to standards and left and then returned to the stage a few times. According to KXAN, the singer’s repertoire included the song “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby,” which certainly would bring a little of the jazz she left out of her Erwin Center show.

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Other videos of the performance included a rendition of Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.”

And yes, little monsters rejoiced.

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She said/he said: Lady Gaga, pop’s superhero, saves Austin’s day

Take our hands, Joanne. Pop superstar Lady Gaga packed a sold-out Frank Erwin Center in Austin on Tuesday as part of her Joanne World Tour. Sparkly spectacle? Sure. Life-affirming tearjerker? Absolutely. Two hours of raw talent packed with sequins, fringe and a whole lot of hats? Well, we already said it was a Lady Gaga show. Austin360’s Deborah Sengupta Stith and Eric Webb break down a show that didn’t leave a single poker face in the house.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – AUGUST 01: (Exclusive Coverage) Lady Gaga performs during her “Joanne” world tour at Rogers Arena on August 1, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation)

EW: So, Deborah, we discussed our respective levels of Gaga fandom going in. I would consider myself a Gagalogist, and you say you harbor occasional monstrous tendencies. If I’m going to look at this show from a pop academic view, this concert was Gaga giving you everything you want. She’s defied boxes for about 10 years — even defying her out-of-the-box box sometimes, if that makes sense. Tuesday night, we got back-of-the-bar twang from “A-Yo,” tender balladry with “Joanne,” 1970s power-pop with “Come To Mama,” Met Gala Euro-seizures with “Bad Romance,” pride anthems like “Born This Way,” German industrial cabaret with “Scheiße,” Catholic hellcore on “Bloody Mary” … heck, we even got a song from “Artpop”! The good lady was one Tony Bennett jazz riff away from a hat trick. (Although she did perform many tricks while wearing various hats.) There’s nothing she can’t do, as she keeps trying to show you people.

DSS: She’s undeniably one of the best performers of her generation, by a long shot. And people (people like me sometimes) are quick to scoff at the “Little Monster” phenomenon, the intense emotional attachment her fans feel for her, but that show was emotional. I didn’t walk into the Erwin Center expecting to weep, but I did. Three times. Every artist says they love their fans, but she really does seem to strive for a different level of connection. “All I ever do is think about how I can be better for you all the time,” she said at one point.

The stage set demonstrated as much. With three platforms placed at different spots on the floor and floating screen clouds that transformed into bridges between them, she seriously brought the show to everyone in that arena.

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EW: Gaga can come off as a little affected sometimes, but I think it’s because she’s performing with this uber-sincerity that’s totally devoid of sarcasm. She’s never taking the piss out of her own message or delivering a lyric with a wink. When you see Gaga receive a painting from a fan depicting the singer with her best friend Sonja Durham, who recently died, it’s this wholly committed moment. Could feel canned with another performer. Gaga, however, asks if the portrait was painted with acrylics. The word of the night was kindness. Gaga took a generous moment to welcome the folks in the audience who might not be on-board with LGBT equality. Certainly not the punk way to go about it, but definitely the radically compassionate way.

Which reminds me, this show was incredibly, gloriously queer. It was a fantasia: rainbow streams of light for “Born This Way”; Gaga riding cowboys on “John Wayne”; shirtless men and their pectoral muscles spending a portion of “Alejandro” tangled and tango-ed; the entire campy, Western ecstasy of my favorite “Joanne” song, “Diamond Heart.” Way to take the trappings of Texas and put a pink cowboy hat on ’em. Gaga knows her audience.

Alright, highlights for you, Deborah?

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – AUGUST 01: (Exclusive Coverage) Lady Gaga performs during her “Joanne” world tour at Rogers Arena on August 1, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation)

DSS: Man, so many! And they were all so different. Definitely, the moment you described with the fan painting, immediately followed by Gaga performing “Edge of Glory” in memory of her friend, with tears streaming down her face. I also loved the point during “Applause” when the screen of clouds came down to bridge the stage and Gaga and her posse of male dancers in flowered mumus sashayed across the arena while the crowd went wild. The ecstatic dance magic of “Bad Romance,” the quiet poignancy of “Joanne” and “A Million Reasons.” The dancing throughout. Honestly, in terms of arena production, the mixture of spectacle and intimacy was better than any I’ve ever seen. You?

EW: I have a notes file full of gems and I will be listing them in obnoxious detail to anyone who will listen this week. Gaga first hit the scene when I was out on my own for the first time in college. I remember watching the “LoveGame” video in my first apartment with my roommate. I remember when me and one of my good friends would run to the floor at fraternity semi-formals when “Just Dance” wafted over the speakers. So, seeing Gaga twist and pivot and hoof it to that familiar “Telephone” choreography was a little out-of-body. Like you said, Gaga soared through that “Edge of Glory,” and she also wailed upside down, hanging off a platform, on “Paparazzi.” Heck, the entirety of “The Cure” was a highlight.

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But if you’ll allow me to talk gay turkey again for a second, there was something electric about hearing Gaga sing that God made you perfectly — no matter gay, straight, bi, lesbian or trans — in 2017, and in Texas. Maybe it’s a little sad to still have to say that so people hear it. But there’s the truth, here in Texas, here in 2017.

Gaga cycled through bejeweled leotards, blew the roof off with that extraordinary voice and performed feats of dancing strength. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta is the superhero of pop. There’s not much more to it than that.

And after all that, Lady Gaga popped in at Antone’s after the show.

Saying goodbye to ACL Fest with the Killers in 19 (and a half) songs

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On Monday morning, the dusty, sun-dried masses of Austin City Limits Music Festival will return to their individual drudgeries: offices, classrooms, warehouses, kitchens, whatever four-walled spaces they fill with their counted-down heartbeats. But wherever they’re going, it probably isn’t drenched in Sin City neon, and there’s definitely not a man with a porcelain grin and a well-tailored space suit there to greet them.

After six days over two weekends, ACL Fest came to a close Sunday night, having seen the past and present of hip-hop, fearless R&B that belonged in an art gallery, a topless Swedish pop star, hometown heroes, old war horses playing the hits, breakout act after breakout act and so very much more. You’d need a pretty big bow to tie that all together. Luckily, fresh off of both an Austin rooftop and the Continental Club, the Killers were up to the task. And they brought lasers.

PHOTOS: Sunday at ACL Fest 2017 Weekend 2

In the interest of savoring every last moment of music, here’s the annotated final set of ACL Fest 2017. Killers frontman Brandon Flowers put it best: “Are we gonna do this thing in style or what?”

The Killers perform on weekend one of Austin City Limits Music Festival on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. (Photo by Rob Loud/Courtesy of C3 Presents)

The Man: Mr. Flowers was getting his life in a sparkly white John Travolta suit. He demonstrated that “Saturday Night Fever” would have been much more entertaining if it was about a Mormon rock star cosplaying as Liberace on an MGM musical set dressed up like an adult video store. The song, the lead single off the band’s newly No. 1 album “Wonderful Wonderful,” was cheeky swagger from top to bottom.

Spaceman: Bold move to lead with two lesser hits in the canon. Despite an awkward, stalled-out attempt at a singalong, Flowers sold it. All televangelist swagger, preaching the gospel of David Bowie.

Somebody Told Me: This was the moment when we had a ballgame. The glitz and the glam of Las Vegas are inseparable from this band and its catalog. Though the Killers, as their career has progressed, have increasingly embraced a dust-worn, “get outta this town” brand of American rock, they remain cozily at home in hedonism. It’s not confidential.

The Way It Was: Even last-chance-at-romance power ballads about daddy’s car are razzle-dazzle showstoppers when you’ve got a jaw like that jutted out and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. serving up Super Bowl arena drum crashes.

Smile Like You Mean It: Flowers’ weird, faux-Euro “Hot Fuss” voice lives! Even robots can cry. The man’s got levels.

The Killers perform on weekend one of Austin City Limits Music Festival on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. (Photo by Rob Loud/Courtesy of C3 Presents)

Bones: Honestly, when Flowers whipped out the line “Don’t you wanna feel my bones? It’s only natural” before the song even started, I clutched my pearls and looked for the nearest fainting couch. I was still smiling like I meant it, and I was not ready for Brandon the sex devil, tempting the boys and girls of Zilker Park down the road to perdition. The way the man grabbed his radius and ulna is considered an obscene gesture in some countries, I’m pretty sure. I needed water.

When You Were Young: Well, kind of. It turned out to be a fake-out, but the band brought it in nice and easy before, like a ghost, it was gone.

Bling (Confession of a King): Sometimes, Flowers bears back on his heels and holds his hand out like he’s fending off the devil. By sometimes, I mean most songs. High drama.

Shadowplay: Listen, I’m glad that people like this Joy Division cover. To me, the Killers version sounds a little too much like the theme song to “The Banana Splits.” At the time, I was upset that we had to trade “When You Were Young” for it.

Human: Did this song and its pulsing, electronic heartbeat presage the rise of popular EDM? Having seen a Calvin Harris turn-up at ACL Fest and then witnessing so many people be so stoked about poor grammar on the most euphoric cheeseball synth break of all time, I had thoughts.

Run For Cover: “This is your new favorite song,” Flowers said. Even he knew you were there to hear “Mr. Brightside.” It’s Killers song that sounded the most like falling off a cliff in a convertible.

For Reasons Unknown: At the odd point in the show, Flowers and his microphone were star-crossed lovers, never quite able to find each other in the night. It meant for some spotty silences. It was also moments like this where you realized that, as big festival headliners, some Killers songs start to feel like slot-fillers. But it’s a fan favorite.

The Killers perform on weekend one of Austin City Limits Music Festival on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. (Photo by Rob Loud/Courtesy of C3 Presents)

Life to Come: Very Starship, with a soaring feature from one of the band’s backup singers. The Killers have low-key turned into one of the most romantic rock bands around.

Read My Mind: “Stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun” is a truly ballsy lyric to sing in front of that many people. Round of applause, please.

Runaways: If you can’t get Springsteen to headline your festival, bring these boys out to play their Boss-iest.

All These Things That I’ve Done: For a stretch of minutes, “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier” became an incantation to ward off the end of the weekend in Austin. Flowers crouched on the far wings of the stage (both of them), smiling like a madman and egging the cult on. The chant continued even after the song was over.

Shot at the Night: This wasn’t a song I was as familiar with, but between Brandon Flowers whispering at me and yearning synths hoisting up the words “once in a lifetime” like Ben Franklin’s kite, I felt closer to tears than when I heard Chance the Rapper sing “Same Drugs” last weekend. That’s, uh, well, really saying something, if you knew the activities of my tear ducts. The guy behind me yelled “¡Dame más!” and brother, did I ever agree.

This Is Your Life: The little circle of Flowers’ finger while he mouthed “let’s go” should be used as a model exercise in rock star charisma school.

When You Were Young: I was so, so worried. A balm.

Mr. Brightside: It’s relevant to mention that I caught the first five songs of the Killers’ weekend one show off the clock. The one-two punch of Tom Petty tribute “American Girl” and the band’s most titanic hit shot every vein in attendance with medical-grade adrenaline. So, with that experience going in, it was quite sweet to save the song that can’t die until the end. The last song to be played at ACL Fest 2017 was “Mr. Brightside”! What a time, my friends. What a time.

As the end of the festival draws near, people hurry to grab a good spot before The Killers close out the last day of the second weekend of the 2017 Austin City Limits Festival Oct. 15. 10/14/17 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Broods’ pretty shadows swallowed in noise, but ACL Fest ate it all up

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Georgia Nott didn’t seem like she could believe the crowd she and her brother, Caleb, pulled Sunday at Austin City Limits Music Festival.

“This is the earliest set we’ve played this summer and it’s the biggest crowd,” the Broods singer said with visible excitement early in the set.

It might not be wholly accurate to call Broods a breakout in their second ACL Fest appearance, because the dark-pop sibling project obviously has a wide extended fan family. If you didn’t know, now you do.

Georgia Nott (left) and Caleb Nott of Broods performs at the Miller Lite Stage during weekend two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. TINA PHAN / FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

PHOTOS: Sunday at ACL Fest 2017 Weekend 2

When the vibe’s that good, it felt weird to find flaws in the New Zealand artists’ Goulding-esque party. Regardless, the delicate alchemy of Georgia’s gleaming, lilting voice and Caleb’s thunderous beats didn’t quite make 24-karat gold Sunday afternoon. All-enveloping songs like “We Had Everything,” which sweep you away in their drama on the recording, swam against a noise whirlpool live.

Georgia’s vocals, while passionately delivering on pretty lyrical moonglow like “Dancing at night, you’re the light that I won’t let go,” couldn’t quite slice all the way through overpowering backing track and distortion, despite an earnest showing. The percussive showpieces and warehouse-party synth washes from Caleb and the band sparked a bouncey castle in front of the Miller Lite stage, but the unrelenting hour cried out for a more intimate, stripped-down rest stop, especially on “Mother & Father.” Toward the end of the set, “Free” opened a small airhole for Georgia to breathe and show her pipes without burden. It was like a brief peek at autumn light from behind heavy velvet drapes.

You can’t critique ecstasy, though. Broods received a rapturous response when Georgia asked who was already familiar with the band. She genuinely thanked the people who stumbled in, and she gave the band and the crew heartfelt praise, too. Georgia dedicated the anthemic “Bridges” to all the Broods fans out there. The band certainly didn’t burn any of their own bridges at the fest. 

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