AUSTIN, Texas — Friday night of Weekend Two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival closed out with more music brought to you by the state of Texas.
Megan Thee Stallion showed up for Houston, Erykah Badu for Dallas, and George Strait for Poteet and San Antonio. But closest to home was Austin’s own Black Pumas, who played an hour-long evening set for concertgoers as the sun set over Zilker Park.
The duo, joined by a full backing band of five others, clearly took pride in their status as hometown heroes.
“I see a few of my neighbors in the audience,” singer Eric Burton told the crowd on Friday evening.
With multiple shout-outs to Austin, there was no mistaking the love the group left for the city where they formed. Burton talked about his perseverance as a musician and the band’s rapid rise to stardom, saying “it paid off.”
Over the past year-and-a-half, Austin has returned the love. The band became the first to sell out four consecutive shows at Stubb’s, and Mayor Steve Adler declared May 7, 2020, “Black Pumas Day.”
At one point, even Burton seemed surprised.
“You mean you didn’t want to watch Megan Thee Stallion?” he joked as she played the Honda Stage at the opposite end of the park.
That Austin connection came full circle at ACL when Burton performed a solo version Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” a song he used to perform busking on the streets at Sixth and Congress, when he was struggling to make a living.
It was Burton’s birthday on Thursday, a fact he made known toward the end of the band’s set before leading the audience in not one, but two rounds of “Happy Birthday.”
The band in many ways embodies the “Live Music Capital of the World” M.O. of Austin – a street busker meets up with a veteran of the local music scene to play weekly gigs downtown and it goes from there.
Their brand of psychedelic-soul music lends itself well to the festival format, where even the most casual fan was clapping along or nodding their head as Black Pumas played “Fire” and “Know You Better,” featuring an instrumental crescendo that showcased the band’s increasing musical growth.
And if those weren’t enough to get the average festivalgoer going, the band finished with an extended version of their hit song, “Colors,” that had the crowd singing a cappella in unison.
PHOTOS: ACL 2021 - Weekend Two
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