"What a (expletive) (expletive) week. Let's have some fun."
That was Nick Sanborn's greeting to the ACL Fest crowd as North Carolina band Sylvan Esso took to the HomeAway Stage on Sunday evening for an hour of chill-out, dance-friendly electronica that bridged sundown to Travis Scott's festival-closing show on the adjacent American Express Stage.
Sylvan Esso's sociopolitical dismay duly noted, the duo delivered on that mission to bring some good times to the crowd. Three years ago the band played a well-received afternoon set at the fest, and they've returned since then for South by Southwest and other shows, becoming an Austin favorite. Throngs of faithful fans sang and danced along up-front as Sanborn spun sound beds on his keyboard for partner Amelia Meath to sing over, weaving spells of enchantment on tunes including "Hey Mami" from their self-titled 2014 debut to "Radio" from last year's follow-up "What Now."
It's impressive how much devotion Sylvan Esso draws from such a minimalist production. A great dancer, Meath inspired the crowd to groove along with her sleek moves. Occasionally Sanborn cut loose as well, the music plainly a cathartic release for the duo in the wake of Saturday's Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh.
Sanborn returned to that subject at the end of the set, dedicating the duo's performance to Christine Blasey Ford, Anita Hill and others "who show their bravery by just waking up every day and living their lives amid this patriarchial (expletive)." Imploring the audience to vote in November, Sylvan Esso served up one last energetic tune before Sanborn headed across town to Emo's, where he helped My Morning Jacket's Jim James play a get-out-the-vote show with a supplemental DJ set. Meath and Sanborn will return for another 7:30 p.m. show during weekend two of ACL Fest, playing Saturday (Oct. 13) instead of Sunday the second time around.