Review: Everyone’s welcome at Brockhampton’s Austin house party

Who says boy bands can’t be activists?  

Pop ensemble Brockhampton performed 90 minutes and 20-plus songs of spastic, adored choruses Saturday night at a sold-out Emo’s before a herd of stampeding teens. That included rapping bass-heavy standard “Star” five times to hammer home the chaos.

Brockhampton performs Saturday, Jan. 20, at Emo’s. Contributed by Brian Kinnes

The DIY-collective, outfitted in matching orange jumpsuits, was described as the “woke Backstreet Boys” pre-show by a nearby patron as the line coiled around the block. Indeed the scene was an inclusive safe space, rich with lyrics about self-acceptance that celebrated ringleader Kevin Abstract’s homosexuality. The show was likewise a homecoming for the eight performing members: “We used to live in San Marcos about 30 minutes away,” the 21-year-old Abstract said.

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Existing somewhere between rap traditionalism and meditative Frank Ocean-era R&B, touring members Abstract, Ameer Vann, Merlyn, Dom McLennon, Matt Champion, Joba, Ciarán “bearface” McDonald, and MacBook-adorned DJ Romil Hemnani unfurled a robust catalog of occasionally infectious and boundlessly optimistic pop. The screaming fans, falsetto love notes, coordinated dance, a capella breakdowns, and assorted onstage chairs all harkened back to the golden days of Lou Pearlman.

“Y’all know this is the best boy band in the world, right?” Abstract noted.

Brockhampton performs Saturday, Jan. 20, at Emo’s. Contributed by Brian Kinnes

These days Brockhampton is likewise a California-based hub of creatives boasting in-house graphic designers, photographers and producers. Whereas other populous rap cliques — from Public Enemy to G-Unit — amplify members of the inner circle, Brockhampton recruited creators online with a more streamlined vision. The 14-member crew is basically a tech startup without the WeWork.

Twitter on Saturday buzzed with young people eagerly hoping to get into Emo’s and joking about using student aid money to buy tickets. The groundswell is thanks to the onslaught of new music—the band released three albums in 2017.

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It’s an ambitious undertaking with lots of moving parts. There are calls to open up the mosh pit and shout-outs to gay fans. An hour in, McDonald performed a pair of ballads alone including the sway-ready “Summer,” which featured his strong Fender Jaguar solos.

“Is everyone OK out there?” Abstract asked. “Thanks for being patient.”

The playful stoner raps of “Gold” and “Gummy” landed with ample crowd participation. There were some growing pains, too: They started a song over after flubbing the words. Their digital presence recalls a gang of YouTube entertainers, and that commitment to building out personality-driven viral videos can mask dull and safe music.

But then Abstract will rap about his boyfriend’s fragrance on “Stupid” and the art turns subversive for the way it flips hip-hop conventions about masculinity. Lyrics about Aladdin and monocles on “Zipper” are pies to the face. “Heat” is a rattling, drum-and-bass song about police.

For all the competing ideas, the locals danced along to everything.

“Hey Austin can we pretend we’re at a party together?” Abstract said. The unifying element to Brockhampton’s familiar music is a commitment to the kinetic energy of Central Texas house parties. The youthful kind where some idiot sits drunk on the balcony railing while rap beats blare through paper-thin walls — it’s music that aches to be present.

Grizzly Bear looks outward in rescheduled Sound on Sound Fest show at ACL Live

Grizzly Bear crammed the floor of ACL Live on Friday night, and robustly packed in the mezzanine. The upper balcony was about half full—a minor miracle all the same.

The four-piece Brooklyn, New York, outfit is a pop oddity. 2009’s breakthrough album “Veckatimest” went gold, as single “Two Weeks” scored a Volkswagen commercial. The psychedelia-tinged music is warm and layered, richly alive with folksy vocals and omnichord flourishes.

The veteran indie standby—formed in 2002 and infecting the college radio scene with 2006’s “Yellow House”—writes pensive, unfurling music for the iPod generation’s morning commute. To convene live is an initially awkward but validating realization that we’re not alone.

Grizzly Bear performs at ACL Live on November 10, 2017. Robert Hein/for American-Statesman

“I’m really glad we got to come play here after all,” singer Ed Droste said toward the end of the 14-plus-song, 80-minute set. “We were worried about it. Skipping Texas doesn’t feel right.”

He was referring to the cancelled Sound on Sound festival, which originally booked Grizzly Bear. It was scrapped in October after a major investor pulled out, and quietly set back 11 years of essential area shindigs loaded with unconventional and rare performances. Event promoters salvaged some of the lineup by booking it across venues like Empire Control Room, Emo’s, and the Mohawk this weekend.

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At ACL Live’s Moody Theater, the band emerged amid a blinding wave of blue lights, between art installations that resembled a widely strewn fishing net. It created an aquarium visual for set opener “Four Cypresses,” a clash of fervent drums and restrained multi-part vocal harmonies.

“Tangled in a pile, it’s chaos but it works,” guitarist and singer Daniel Rossen crooned. It’s a sullen track about refugees and war.

August’s “Painted Ruins,” the band’s fifth album and first since 2012, has more synthesizers, pulsing beats, and isolated vocals. The tunes are dialed in and instantly appealing—they work on, say, “CBS This Morning,” where the band performed last week. And as entertainers force meaning from the uneasy political terrain that clogs their push notifications, and scramble to interpret it in their music, Grizzly Bear’s music looked outward.

Droste is Instagram-famous, boasting more than 600,000 followers, in part because he worked as a global travel correspondent for Vogue. (He also blasted Taylor Swift on Twitter for being mean at a party, prompting fan backlash and the eventual deletion of his Twitter account.) Droste devotes social media real estate to activism, and seems to guide his band as its moral compass.

Older songs like “Fine For Now” landed with weight: “There was time, it took time,” Rossen sang. “If we’re faltering, how do I help with that?”

“Losing All Sense,” peppy and led by a fuzzy bassline, recalled the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna.” But otherwise Grizzly Bear concerts are unconventional for rock norms as an audience member: You’re forged between walls of loud crescendos, waiting for something to sing along to, and drenched in strobe lights. (The taped-on-the-entrance warnings about strobe effects were not to be taken lightly.)

“It’s called live music… just a moment in time to absorb each other’s sweat,” Droste deadpanned during an awkward pause to configure his gear.

PHOTOS: Grizzly Bear at ACL Live

Otherwise proceedings were seamless. The band thanked budding Austin songwriter Molly Burch for opening, and touring multi-instrumentalist Aaron Arntz for his hard work.

“We want to throw it back to 2006 for y’all,” Droste said as something of a self-aware joke, as if the band had early hits to dust off.

But it did. “Yellow House” centerpiece “On a Neck, On a Spit” played as a lively fan favorite with its rollicking folk chorus. Rossen has said that it’s a song about accepting and toasting his “loner” spirit. For a house packed full of people who surely despise networking happy hours, it was sublime.

In ACL Fest adieu, Gorillaz throw in the kitchen sink

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“How you doing mate? Catch a late flight?” Damon Albarn asked De La Soul’s DJ Maseo Sunday night, just before dazzling mass single “Feel Good Inc.”

The long-tenured rap crew was home to turn out the enduring radio hit from 2005. Ditto Del the Funky Homosapien for the evening-wrapping “Clint Eastwood.”

The big chorus-powered one-offs punctuated one of ACL’s most ambitious headlining sets to date.

“Are we the last living souls?” Albarn, the Gorillaz singer and art director, posited earlier on the Honda Stage. A five-person choir heightened his melodies, and the 49-year-old Blur singer offered a dystopian vision full of scrawling cartoons and wired Britpop.

Gorillaz perform on the Honda stage at ACL fest on October 15, 2017. Dave Creaney / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

In a black Gorillaz hoodie, Albarn ushered in sweater season as joyous Texans clapped—and scratched their heads, bewildered. This fully realized Gorillaz gig had bunches of moving parts, and boy was it a lot to breathe in.

“It’s our last night,” Albarn told Zilker Park. “We’ve been here for five weeks and we’ve had a very good time.”

His band’s hour-plus bonanza was a playscape. The Gorillaz moniker—where members 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs are animated characters with an accompanying storyline that peppers the public output—mostly exists for Albarn to flirt with genres he digs like rap, soul, trip-hop, and reggae. It’s the same live.

Dancehall artist Popcaan raps on “Saturnz Bars,” and rather than omit his song-making verse because he wasn’t in Austin, Albarn’s band beamed it on a big screen, and filled in the blanks with swelling live orchestration.

This is a festival headliner most ACL attendees know of but few have thought critically about. The two big hits are fine singles, but what about the accompanying cartoons or the buoyant disco ballads like “Stylo,” belted out by touring R&B vocalist Peven Everett?

It’s ponderous and cinematic, zip-tied together by captivating songs.

The cosmic synthesizers zoomed. The gothic “Sex Murder Party” was seasonally spooky and unhinged. Fans watched the genre collage all the way back to where the dueling songs from the Killers, appearing simultaneously at the American Express stage, mixed in near the Miller Lite pop-up bar.

The final third of the show was a rotating showcase for lesser-known rappers like Kilo Kish and Zebra Katz. Here Albarn slid to the background and let the colorful circus take a life of its own. Kudos to him for building such an open-sourced, inclusive touring platform.

Almost 20 years into a fake band, Gorillaz is still challenging conventions.

White Reaper is ACL Fest’s hardest-rocking band

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White Reaper named its 2017 sophomore album “The World’s Best American Band,” and the boast is less absurd than you think.

The Louisville, Kentucky, quintet knows that the best rock has fuzz in the mix and soundtracks trips to the pool hall. Hell guitarist Hunter Thompson lives in town. They know how to posture, riff, and play uptempo and punk-tinged rock for the Hotel Vegas crowd better than most. Guitar solos are served up via Gibson SG. Orange-brand amps transmit the signals. A noisy Korg keyboard plinks just the right amount of keys.

White Reaper performs on the BMI Stage on 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

The band—which impressed at SXSW and scored a blog-heralded hit with nostalgic, crunching, and romantic single “Judy French”—arrived Sunday at ACL packaged with the poise and swagger to evolve beyond the BMI stage at Zilker Park. A quick word about BMI for the uninitiated: It’s an afterthought of a setting, sandwiched between bigger stages and lacking for spillover traffic. It exists to showcase new talent, but the higher on the BMI ladder you climb, the more likely you are to be overlooked by bigger, simultaneously performing acts. No matter.

The afternoon set, which was warmly received by orange-haired punks and a dude in a Black Label Society jacket, proved that these learned rippers have the hooks to grow into a less-sanitized Kings of Leon. (Singer Tony Espocito looks like Joe Jonas, for starters.)

Espocito and keyboardist Ryan Hater both arrived in denim jackets; four of the five garage rockers arrived in long sleeves. The commitment to aesthetics was unwavering, and you’d attack it for being overly self-aware in the Texas sun but every lick landed like a dirty joke. Hey some great country singers grew up in the north, and whether or not it’s 1980 is secondary: the band flings big hooks like, well, Hater tossing his drinks into onlookers.

Hater said that the band could “play all day for you guys… you guys are a dream come true.”

 

 

Sporting a Harley Davidson T-shirt, drummer Nick Wilkerson was the engine. He pummeled the kit and never yielded tempo. The fast rock grooves brought dueling, Thin Lizzy-style guitar breakdowns. And whoa, they burned “Judy French” before the end knowing that louder and better melodies could close strongly.

 

Don’t sleep on Bibi Bourelly, ACL’s secret pop genius

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Bibi Bourelly wrote Rihanna’s “B*tch Better Have My Money,” so you’ve already appreciated her writing. She can riff on mean lovers and the circumstantial self-reliance of your early 20s with anyone, which is why she’s been tapped by the likes of Usher and Selena Gomez for credits.

Bibi Bourelly performs at the Honda 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

As a solo artist, she hit Zilker Park’s Honda Stage with great pre-song zingers: “This is about my ex-boyfriends other b*tch.”

She has some Frank Ocean in her, another strong-minded auteur who first caught a break writing for pop stars. Difference is Bourelly is still building her sonic palette.

“I got fired from Old Navy, landlord keeps on knocking,” she sings with populist contempt on “Ballin.”

Wearing frayed jeans and a plaid blouse, the Berlin-born singer-songwriter plugged in her stage show Sunday with a three-piece rock backline that played over R&B beats and gave them a friendly fire, No Doubt-inspired spark.

Her songs are about feeling isolated in wide spaces, like her adopted Los Angeles, where people are “a little too perfect.” She has the writing about-the-human-experience part down at just 23 years old.

But at ACL, a pensive and quiet soft open.

“Damn Austin I know it’s early but come on,” Bibi Bourelly told a thin crowd Sunday. She’d been up there for nine minutes, but the most enthusiastic onlookers seemed to be the fans in Gorillaz T-shirts apparently camping out for tonight’s set.

Most patrons are taking Instagrams at brunch spots, and some at Zilker Park are thinking about what time they need to be at the airport. The tunes carried purpose all the same: “I don’t take compliments well, but I’m so self-obsessed that I think up a storm and I dream up a mess” she riffed on “Sunshine.”

“You’re my cocaine,” she sang with urgency on “Poet.” Her songs drive into dark corners you may miss because they’re written so brightly.

“Have an amazing f**king time tonight and follow your dreams,” Bourelly signed off to her well-presented, 40-minute set.

Bourelly never leaned on past hits to lull in new fans. That independent streak will serve her well next time.

ACL REVIEW: Spoon is a flat circle

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What’s your favorite Spoon outing? Did you see Britt Daniel’s men at that private SXSW networking event a few years back? Or Hole In the Wall during the ‘90s? Or this very ACL stage adjacent to the football tent in 2005 when “Sister Jack” was a buzzing hit? Or at the secret Antone’s show in January? Or the converted old Emo’s in March when one of the most tenured Austin bands ever turned the historic punk club into a multiple-night residency?

Britt Daniel of Spoon performs at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park on Saturday October 7, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Hell my dad used to, no joke, tune Jim Eno’s piano. My little brother toured with Spoon in ‘07 as a backing horn player. (I’ve never met the band.)

Cool story, bro: Many of the Miller Lite stage patrons flanking Spoon Saturday in Zilker Park were first-time callers. Spoon has always been the slick scene kids’ favorite area indie band. Daniel used to DJ at student station KVRX, they’d tell us at orientation, and the band’s references are impeccably tailored.

No matter, universal grooves like “I Turn My Camera On” and 10-year-old “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” gem “Don’t You Evah” lulled the blanket-standing newcomers. 2014’s “Rent I Pay” pulsed with arena-ready drums.

The band has such a well-reviewed string of records that members could cherry-pick 15 bright cuts and call it an ACL, but here the band’s set had peaks and valleys, as if outfitted for longtime fans. New album “Hot Thoughts” played prominently, and songs like “I Ain’t the One” were given space to breathe and build.

“This one goes out to everybody from Elgin,” Daniel deadpanned as an apparent inside joke, prior to the new album’s title track. “This one right here.”

Spoon knows what festival tier it belongs on, and it’s a line or two beneath thin-skinned fellow Texans like the operatic attention-hounds in Arcade Fire. But now it plays on the ACL sunset hole, where legacy bands from the early 2000s like Band of Horses and Ryan Adams come to deliver your money’s worth in the early evening.

On R&B-tinted, falsetto-tinged tracks like “Can I Sit Next to You” Daniel ditched the guitar and used his tall frame to play Lothario frontman. He’s got those moves down now, too.

Look folks it was another Spoon show. The Jon Brion-produced “The Underdog” remains as rousing and emotive as when you heard it on network television.

This band writes largely great songs: Even 2010’s flatly received “Transference” is secretly like rich with bangers.

Everyone seemed to like these guys because Daniel growls like late-period John Lennon. But if you think it’s easy to put out a bunch of sharply self-aware albums for hipsters, I’ve got some Voxtrot stock to sell you.

We’ll see you at the next Spoon show, or Divine Fits if that side project ever circles back up. (Seriously Britt can we get another Divine Fits album?)

Cody Jinks’ trending Texas country pours one out for Chris Cornell

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Cody Jinks spoke onstage Saturday of being in the studio when Chris Cornell died in May, and cutting a Soundgarden song as a tribute to the late rock singer.

Suzanne Cordeiro/ For American-Statesman Cody Jinks performs on Day 2 of the 2017 ACL Music Festival held at Zilker Park in Austin.

“Disrupting” his ACL setlist, Jinks brought up singer-songwriter Paul Cauthen for a piano ballad duet of alternative radio standby “Black Hole Sun.” The melody soared, and fans on the dry Zilker Park field raised drinks in approval.

Jinks performs tatted, outlaw country about hangovers and the devil. It’s familiar and ambitious, served up with a five-piece backing band full of sluggers.

Wearing a black cowboy hat to match his black Johnny Cash T-shirt, aviator shades, and a long beard, the Denton, Texas, singer was closed off and masked Saturday at the Honda Stage. He told us he loves two kinds of people best: “hippies and cowboys,” which speaks to his affection for Austin.

His jukebox dive bar-ready, twang-accented ballads like “I’m Not the Devil” provided the reflective aid that bustling ACL attendees needed between fits of checking their phones.

Songs like “No Words” confessed to drinking too much, while “Been Around” confessed to… likewise being wasted. After almost two decades as a touring musician, the 37-year-old songwriter is flirting with crossover success and making Billboard chart dents. Last year’s “I’m Not the Devil” offered a heralded batch of everyman tunes.

Here the band was keyed in and automatic. Bearded side man Chris Claridy stepped in with restrained and effortless solos like a bartender serving up a well drink. Keyboard and steel guitar detours kept the mix lively and transfixing.

Jinks even rattled off a technical, pensive version of Pink Floyd epic “Wish You Were Here.” It was a subtle move: Covers are easy outs in front of mass audiences, but much like Sturgill Simpson’s country cover of When in Rome’s ’80s synth pop hit “The Promise,” these remixes are an internet-age admission: Jinks’ T-shirt may advertise a Cash concert from ‘68 at Folsom Prison, but in 2017 auteurs embrace their Spotify playlists and don’t mind sending one out to the lawn chairs.

“There’s a lot of you guys who don’t know who we are,” Jinks said, praising the gigs where he gets to play around “different kids of music.” Jinks wasn’t done: “That’s what this is all about, people.”

 

ASAP Ferg’s stuff broke at ACL Fest: ‘I don’t know what happened to my music’

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“The music is too hot for the computer right now,” ASAP Ferg told the American Express stage faithful. My weather app wouldn’t load, but it seemed to be in the high 80s Saturday afternoon at Zilker Park.

A$AP Ferg performs during the second weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The New York rapper’s set would be shorted out amid technical difficulties. Between 2:40pm and 2:45pm, the show seemed to be over, though a loud rendition of “New Level” sparked life back into sweaty, young fans following the break.

A security member sprays water into the crowd as A$AP Ferg performs during the second weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The 28-year-old Ferg, born Darold Ferguson, was appreciative of folks who waited out the intermittent delays, noting he was “ready to tuck my tail between my legs like a sad dog.”

The short set was salvaged by 2013’s “Shabba.”

“This s**t is so embarrassing, I don’t know what happened to my music,” Ferg said during the first outage, where he seemed to mistake an “OU sucks” chant for a hostile act by a fan in a Longhorns shirt. To kill time, Ferg invited him onstage to banter. Then he scooted offstage.

It wasn’t quite Ben Kweller’s bloody nose, which he plugged with a fan’s tampon during his 2006 ACL set, but it was a frustrating main stage delay for an artist who regularly frequents Austin, most recently during SXSW and opening for Future in May.

Block-thumping crew favorite “Yamborghini High” seemed to salvage things following the first extended delay, but the sound again cut out during “Hella Hoes.”

Wearing an orange, long-sleeved Adidas tracksuit (dude must have been cooking in that thing), Mets cap, and high-top socks, Ferg won on his oddball, winking music. On “Bahamas,” he laments never traveling to the Bahamas, but flips that into a boast. “Doe Active,” which was likely cut from the setlist because of the interruptions in service, recounts a possibly fictional encounter with Adam Levine and makes it the bridge. New single “Plain Jane” is likewise warped and weird, and here fans recorded the moment on their iPads as Ferg asked all the men to put “beautiful women” on their shoulders.

Manny Hernandez, center, dances as A$AP Ferg performs during the second weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

While the throwaway vulgarity is baked into the recipe and lands because of its well-intentioned, goofball humor, Ferg did punctuate most of his songs with a gun shot sound effect. As in, the song ends and his DJ blasts a gun shot via his sound board. It’s an also-ran live rap tradition, but following a mass shooting at a music festival this month that left 59 dead and 527 injured, its inclusion was tone-deaf and pointless.

That no one seemed affected by the constant fake gunfire speaks to how quickly Americans process and move on from these national headlines: For instance, Foster the People returned “Pumped Up Kicks,” a song about a mass shooting, to its setlist Friday at Zilker after not playing it last week.

“Load up the chopper and ride on my enemies,” he rapped on “Nandos.”

Then a gun shot sound effect.

A clever one-off line about butt stuff in the bedroom.

Then a gun shot sound effect.

But Ferg was an outward thinker, imploring fans to go wild because the performance was being streamed on the internet. His music is an amoral party, and a vengeful mood perfect for filing into your seat at a football game. Today it wasn’t working.

The most important performer in rap history, Jay-Z bridges fan divide with powerful ACL set

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Jay-Z knows that he’s the least interesting part of “Run This Town” and “No Church In the Wild,” but the impeccably arranged songs boast huge choruses, and they make a mighty one-two opening punch at festivals. He also knows you can’t overuse the rap air horn sound effect, and that he can always lean on “Empire State of Mind” when people who don’t subscribe to his streaming music club nod off during “Marcy Me.”

Jay-Z performs on day one of the Austin City Limits Music Festival’s first weekend on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP)

He’s a business man; business, man; and master curator. But also the most important performer in rap history.

“There’s a lot going on in the world… Love will always defeat hate,” he told the American Express stage’s robust crowd two songs into his Friday ACL performance.

Wearing a white T-shirt and black cap, Jay quickly addressed complaints that his touring spectacle came devoid of special guests: Damien Marley popped on to join for “Bam.” (That’d be it for surprises, however.)

He’s an artist admired for his marketing acumen, and was likewise instrumental in bringing hip-hop into its live era. Evolving past the organized noise and spellbinding chaos of rap’s house party origins, Jay scaled the sound for Zilker Park—for where the Rolling Stones played.

Just look at what he’s done: Jay took the Tunnel Banger era of rap in sweaty clubs to Ticketmaster arenas. The late ‘90s “Hard Knock Life” tour united New York titans DMX, Method Man, and Redman, and went off without incident. His infamous feud with Mobb Deep manifested at the Summer Jam, and deflated its edge by propping up a playful concert. He turned rival 50 Cent into his opening act at the height of 50’s reign in 2003, and bought into Kanye West’s avant-garde theatrics at the perfect moment. 2001’s MTV “Unplugged” set was forward-thinking enough to tap the conscious and then-fringe Roots as the house band, and it made for hip-hop’s best live album.

He snarled back at Oasis’ public dismissal of his Glastonbury billing by performing the British rockers’ “Wonderwall,” winking at the idea that rap wasn’t fit to headline the historic festival less than a decade ago.

Now Jay has a deal with Live Nation and parlays his 1996-2003 catalog into rap’s most robust greatest hits tour. His ACL set culminates a recent years-long run where West, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Drake, and OutKast planted the rap banner at ACL. Thank Jay in part for that, too.

But the 47-year-old seems most comfortable up there. Vintage tracks like the Just Blaze-produced “U Don’t Know” and “Public Service Announcement,” full of richly warped soul samples, proved that all rap needs is a DJ who’s packing loud hits and a charismatic person with a microphone who can rap while sleepwalking.

And then there was “N****s in Paris,” a bombastic celebration of underdogs where Jay asked fans to make a big circle pit and leaned on the song’s delirious chaos. He was so animated he botched the cadence: “I f*cked up, my bad.”

I’d understood everyone disliked 2009’s “On To the Next One,” but it had the pop hooks to captivate. “Izzo,” “Heart Of the City,” “I Just Want To Luv U,” and “Big Pimpin’” were crisply punctuated and boomed.

He dedicated “Encore” to the late Chester Bennington, whom he collaborated with on 2004’s “Collision Course.” He performed Pimp C lyrics, and shouted out anyone affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“You guys are going to change the world for the better I truly believe it,” Jay added, before playing late-era clunker “Young Forever.”

“Festival season is now over,” he said, noting that Friday marked the end of his 2017 fest engagements. His canned closer, “99 Problems,” was OK.

“That for me is an icon,” a UT-aged student told his girlfriend on the walk out.

Indeed Uncle Jay commanded respectful attention from a crowd that seemed smaller than Drake’s in 2015. But the performance was aimed at a multi-generational cluster of patients who’ve been exposed to scattered songs for 21-plus years. His gig served the savory pizza you order for everyone packed into the house during the holidays: Something everyone can get behind.

Like sister-in-law Solange crooned about 15 minutes before Jay’s set began across the park: “This… is for us.”

Crystal Castles deliver righteous fury for troubling times at ACL

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Long live the new Crystal Castles.

Edith Frances of Crystal Castles performs at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park on Friday October 6, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

2007’s coolest iPod band arrived on the Honda Stage Friday with a towering wall of live drum-spiked electronic music. Singer Edith Frances jumped, yelled, whispered lyrics, and dropped the mic just to force patrons into hearing a loud thud.

The Toronto band was in attack mode: During a week where nonstop headlines revealed men abusing power at the highest levels of entertainment, Frances’ breakneck performance was the blunt-force, push-back pop that the occasion demanded. With Auto-Tuned and fuzzed-out vocals, her singing washed over Zilker Park—a roaring conscience that brought weight to the beach ball-littered field.

As drummer Christopher Chartrand soloed, producer Ethan Kath filtered in gobs is static. The atonal electroclash was uncompromising and brutal. You couldn’t help but to watch the black-attired trio, with matching dark masks, thrashing amid their purple and green lights.

Chartrand’s onstage black T-shirt read “homeland security,” an ironic and winking message that shimmered through the fog machine. Wearing dog tags, black gloves with zippers, and combat boots, the green hair-sporting Frances turned out Crystal Castles’ catalog. Her propensity to sway from her microphone stand like a scarecrow in a dust storm showed her fearless approach—and that the band’s best day’s may be on the horizon.

The three-piece collective seemed done back in 2014 when former singer Alice Glass announced an abrupt breakup via Facebook. But not so fast: Frances stepped in to write and sing, and the goth-tinged band kept the needle moving on last year’s “Amnesty.”

Crystal Castles offered hypnotic and frenetic synthesizer lines that rumble your insides. Frances made legacy songs like “Crimewave” and “Vanished” all her own. Even the students in basketball jerseys stared with bewildered respect.

Frances went almost the entire set without speaking to her audience, but turned the ending into an occasion to stage dive. The band abruptly left the stage at Stubb’s last year after two songs, and here finished the fight.