With nearly a dozen band members on stage and their animated monkey-man creations on screen behind them, alternative band Gorillaz stole the show and closed out the final weekend of Austin City Limits (ACL) on Sunday night.
ACL incorporates nearly every genre of artist, from electronic dance music (EDM) to folk and country music. However, their headliners tend to float between rock and alternative rock artists. This year, the early-2000s hit-masters the Killers were slated for one of the final sets while Gorillaz performed at the other end of Austin’s Zilker Park. However, when the shows started around 8:15 p.m., the energy coming from the Gorillaz stage swept the audience away from the Killers.
According to their website, the London-based collaboration blends several genres together, taking influences from rock, electronic, hip-hop and indie. Gorillaz were created in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn, lead singer of British grunge band Blur, and artist Jamie Hewlett. Albarn and Hewlett set out to create a virtual band, voiced by a group of musicians from all genres and animated by Hewlett.
The result became Gorillaz — an animated band composed of four characters, the bassist Murdoc, pianist and vocalist 2-D, drummer Russell Hobbs and guitarist Noodle. Each character has their own distinct personality, and all their oddities add to the creepy, otherworldly vibe that Albarn and the rest of the band create with their music.
At ACL, people came in droves to see this artistic giant perform. Baylor junior Jordan Reeser was one of many Baylor students that attended the festival, and pushed her way close to the front for the Gorillaz set.
“I actually knew of them [ Gorillaz] because of my best friend back home, and so I started listening to them because of nostalgia and missing her,” Reeser said. “That introduced me to their new stuff, which is awesome. I’m so excited to see them.”
Reeser was just one of thousands who stood to watch Gorillaz on Sunday night. The mixture of lifelong fans and folks who were just looking for a new artist to listen to blended to create the perfect, hyped-up atmosphere. The excitment that had been burning inside all ACL attendees all weekend raged once again as Gorillaz controlled the crowd’s every move.
The show took viewers on a journey, starting with the conception of Gorillaz characters, and ending with some of their hits, including their breakout chart-topper “Feel Good Inc.” The show provided a toe-curling, edge-of-your-seat experience for even the most novice alternative listener.
Not only did the Gorillaz provide entertainment for adventurers into the indie music realm, but it also provided those working the festival with a taste of their artistic talent. Hydration representative Deanna Marra was perfectly stationed at the water-refill Hydration Station so she could watch the set.
“It’s my first year working ACL. I worked last weekend and this weekend,” Marra said. “I love it because you get a free wristband and you only volunteer for four hours a day, so the rest of the time you just get to wander. The Gorillaz are one of my favorite bands, so I’m happy I get to see them from the station, even if I’m not in the crowd at the moment.”
As the animated band strummed on screen and the artists sang one last chorus, Gorillaz music pounded the listener’s ears and made hearts pulse. ACL-goers said their final goodbyes to Zilker Park — to their favorite artists and the new ones they discovered and began their countdowns to next year’s festival.