Welp, SoundCloud icon Lil Uzi Vert canceled at the last minute — and so the youths found their release with RL Grime.
His T-Mobile stage set Friday evening at Austin City Limits was part mosh, part themed frat party and all Juul clouds. As ringmaster, the 28-year-old L.A. DJ — born Henry Alfred Steinway — clanks heavy EDM beats woven with angelic R&B and pop-siren samples from the likes of SZA and Nero. Or the memorable hand-clap intro from Kanye West’s “Power.” Or a sped-up vocal of Kid Cudi’s still-haunting “Day and Nite.”
“It’s all in your head,” read the neon, fortune cookie-like onstage messaging.
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The artist’s flannel long-sleeve lasted about a song and a half. Even at dusk it’s sweltering.
Meanwhile, flanking stage right in the wine lounge, a swarm of people in black Guns N' Roses T-shirts side-stepped the action and jostled toward the big stage. It was a great example of the parallel festival experiences fans build out nowadays. ACL has transitioned from roots rock and soul in backbone to a populist kaleidoscope of radio genres this decade. It’s long since phased out most baby-boomer headliners like Al Green, Van Morrison, and John Fogerty — Paul McCartney last year was a blip. But to quote an overheard attendee during RL Grime, it’s still “pretty lit.”
RL Grimes' emotive wallop comes from the blaring of introspective and melancholy rap hits over fatalist and abrasive beats. “We’re still the kids we used to be — I put my hand on the stove to see if I still bleed,” go the lyrics to 070 Shake’s hands-at-the-sky hook from “Ghost Town.”
Grime offered a deftly curated and lively mix for the soft boys and sad girls — while their parents likewise chased adolescence while lining up for GNR.
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