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Madeon gives ACL Fest 2021 one last dance party on its final day

Ramon Ramirez
Special to the American-Statesman

Let’s bring home the comeback Austin City Limits Music Festival with some primal field dancing.

Hugo Pierre Leclercq, the French dance producer better known as Madeon who went viral on YouTube 10 years ago, closed out the Miller Lite Stage with loud purpose on Sunday night. A decade after a heralded mashup clip, “Pop Culture,” raised his profile in the electronic community, the 27-year-old took the home stretch of his Good Faith Live tour to a Weekend 2-only ACL Fest stop.

“I’m having the time of my life. Seriously, thank you,” the occasional Lady Gaga collaborator said. “Keep going.”

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Don’t call it a DJ set: That was for Madeon’s ACL Fest late show at Emo’s. Untrained passersby may see neon lights, pulsating electropop and a shirtless guy with glowing fingers doing jazz hands in front of apparent randos, but this two-years-running, one-man act features live mixing and vocals. Two albums in, Madeon’s layered recordings and quilted sonic palette make him an EDM force. He’s reportedly cited Daft Punk as his biggest musical influence and that makes me feel better about citing such a low-hanging comparison. Songs like the set-closing “Miracle” slow burn into dance oblivion a la “One More Time.”

Saturday night’s high-profile appearances by Doja Cat and Billie Eilish turned the ACL Fest exit gates into a sardine-packed walk home. Sunday was a quieter affair, where the trot along Barton Springs Road seemed to feature more pedicabs than patrons. But at Madeon, the joyful straggler crowd we imagined in lockdown came alive.

Austin City Limits Music Festival ran from Oct. 1-3 and 8-10, 2021, in Zilker Park in Austin.

Someone wearing a yellow Colombia soccer jersey held up a big Colombia flag in a windy Zilker Park. A disappointed man in a Kansas City Chiefs T-shirt side-eyed the nearby Beer Hall, which programmed baseball games instead of football on its two screens. A nearby couple swayed in place like one of those used car lot tube men, presumably hesitant to abandon their blanket. The Miller Lite Stage’s video board, which offers closeups of patrons and performers, was down; instead, you could turn around and watch ACL Eats videos on the Honda Stage’s screens and learn how to make a quick Brussels sprouts salad or cucumber kale agua fresca to a trippy soundtrack.

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Back on Madeon’s stage, suggestive text overlays like “No more fear” flashed behind his rig of two clear tables and a microphone. According to his Equipboard page, which offers an Amazon-style rundown of his gear, Madeon uses a pair of Xone:K2s for controlling audio and video software, a Novation SL MKIII Keyboard and the Launch Control XL pad for mixing.

There was a soulful undercurrent to newer material: 2019’s “Good Faith” album featured live gospel singers with vocals so lived-in that you’d swear they were dusty samples. Porter Robinson collaboration “Shelter” ran on Madeon’s crooning falsetto.

Online, he tweeted trepidation that his post-COVID crowds were so young that they were full of people attending their first concert, positing: “What if they hate it and then don’t wanna go to any concert afterwards(?)”

Doubt he’ll have that problem going forward.