Slow music at a festival is always a dicey proposition. It’s the artists who deliver the high energy, body-moving grooves who tend to be the show stoppers at massive outdoors events like ACL Fest. But Jhené Aiko, an artist who’s been flirting with the fringe of stardom for years has never been one to follow a trend. Pulling largely from her new debut full-length “Souled Out,” she played an absolutely entrancing mid-afternoon set loaded sublime cascades of soul.
Performing to one of the most diverse crowds ever to gather at an ACL Fest stage, Aiko was charming and the audience was rapt throughout her performance. The songs flowed together in a lovely sequence of smooth and beautiful sound but standouts included “Spotless Mind” which found her ruminating on the nature of change and “Comfort Inn Ending,” a frank discussions of love, sex and disappointment.
She pushed back when given the signal to bring the set to a close. “I was so in it,” she said. “I want to keep telling you my sad stories. It’s like therapy.” She walked the front of the crowd greeting her fans and as she returned the stage she was granted a few extra minutes. So she blessed the crowd with a tribute to fallen hip hop icon Tupac with a beautiful cover of “Keep Ya Head Up.” A perfect ending to one of the weekend’s quiet standout sets.