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Fingers, hands and arms up: Every song's an anthem when Missio plays an ACL Fest set in the sun

A sunny afternoon might not seem the best setting for the music of Missio, a local electronica group whose heavy, hard-edged music seems generally best-suited for the other side of midnight. But on Saturday at ACL Fest, the band's fans enthusiastically brought the darkness into the light, raising their arms high and singing along often during an hourlong set that showed yet another side of what makes up Austin music.

Lead-singer Matthew Brue and multi-instrumentalist David Butler jump-started Missio's quick rise with the 2017 viral single "Middle Fingers" and have since released three albums, most recently last year's "Can You Feel the Sun." The title track to the new record served as a fine opener on Saturday, both because its name captured the heat shining down on the Vrbo Stage and because its pop melodicism reflects the increasingly broader scope of the duo's sound.

READ MORE:Our 2019 interview with Missio

Missio performs on the VBRO stage during weekend 2 of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, October 9, 2021.

Missio's music is interesting in that there's quite a bit of variety in tempo and feel from song to song — and yet, when you hit the chorus, almost every track becomes anthemic. From the rap-oriented "Underground" to the dark and foreboding "Wolves" (written about misadventures in New Orleans) to the deceptively party-down vibe that contrasts against the lyrics of "Bad Drugs," almost everything becomes a wall-of-sound sing-along in the chorus. And judging from how often the voices chimed in from the crowd, that's what their fans like about them.

Supported by drummer Jaydon Bean, who consistently brought the thunder necessary to propel Missio's manifestos, Brue and Butler beefed up the musical structures with pre-recorded tracks that made the group often seem far bigger than just three musicians onstage.

PHOTOS:Here's what Saturday at ACL Fest looked like in pictures

A mid-set highlight was "I See You," which Brue explained was written in support of those who found themselves adrift and unseen during the pandemic. The group had good pacing, too; just as it seemed the set was beginning to flag a little, they brought out local duo Blackillac, who immediately jump-started the energy with freestyle raps based around the track "I Don't Give A…" from Missio's 2017 debut album "Loner."

The obvious closer was "Middle Fingers," which got the appropriate salute from almost all those near the front of the stage. Brue explained that its function in the song is not so much for derision but for celebration: "You're here at ACL around your favorite artists, your favorite bands, and you don't give a (expletive)!"