soulciti at acl 17 SUNDAY \\ WEEKEND I

The 2017 ACL FESTIVAL features a lineup performing on eight stages at Zilker Park over two weekends, Ot. 6-8 and Oct. 13-15.

At ACL 2017, Tito’s Handmade Vodka stage was the platform for THE LANDS BAND, a gospel recording group that keeps the vocal tradition of spiritual songs and celebration alive and well. They say you need to hear the “real thing,” and not a commercialized perception of the truth. Before their set, band leader Dr. Sterling Lands, II extolled life stamina in life and refusal to be defeated.

We’ve heard that placing a gospel group on a platform sponsored by a local alcoholic beverage company is making the gospel a joke. Well, someone had to step up and invest! The gospel music industry has an unwritten rule: If you choose a life of Christian music ministry, God will bless you with a love offering, not a fair wage.

It’s not about devaluing the heart of a volunteer who ministers as their true calling. But we can normalize those who have been trapped within a glass box for being in the business of God. Richard Lands, the band’s saxophonist, shared this enthusiasm as Tank and the Bangas played the HomeAway stage just across the field.

When music of any kind is prepared and served fresh for your consumption, do as Tito’s did: Pay the bill. Then, if you will, don’t forget the tip.

Words by Monae Miller.


With soaring near-falsetto vocals, Sam Dew, the hip hop singer-songwriter from Chicago, captivated the early crowd at ACL on Sunday. He’s penned songs for the super famous (Mary Jane Blige and Rhianna to name but two), but today he sang his own songs and proved himself worthy of the accolades he’s received for songs sung by more famous artists.

Sam pulled in the crowd from across the field, filling the front of the stage with fans new and old with his good energy. Festivalgoers bobbed to his raspy voice, which gave a male hula hooper a groove to work with.

Sam’s love for old soul music is apparent in his delivery. He’s been known to call his sound “alternative soul” or “distorted soul,” and when you hear him, it makes sense. It goes deep into you, and you can feel the meaning and purpose.

Words by Ellen Elmore


JAMILA WOODS packed TIto’s tent early Sunday afternoon on the last day of ACL’s first weekend.

Her mood and songs were mellow, leaving many under the tent seated, but definitely swaying in to the sounds of this talented singer. She has a following after her successful performance at SXSW this year, and this set will certainly bring her more fans.

The Chicago poet and songwriter performed some great original songs with a cover thrown in here and there. She has collaborated with Chance the Rapper, among others, and is active in non-profit work back home. Her debut album, HEAVN, was released in 2016. The influence of hip hop, jazz, and soul is evident in her music. Her lyrics are poetry set to music.

Words by Ellen Elmore


One of the reasons to love ACL is musical exploration: You don’t have to already be a fan of the artist, or know the melody of a song, or have the lyrics memorized to connect and feel it immediately in your soul. Music is just deep like that.

Case in point and a nice end to ACL 2017, the five piece reggae band, RAGING FIYAH. They are from Kingston, Jamaica and give you that island vibe. They have you in your own world, just letting the music move you. Every member of the band was dynamic and had their own engaging own style.They performed some songs from their Grammy nominated album, “Everlasting”. It’s amazing today to hear their positive message of unification of all people.

The best for last, many festival goers find Sunday their favorite. Discover new artists and add them to your playlist. Well done, ACL! Another reminder of why we love live music so much.

Words by Adesewa Faleti


It’s been a wild rollercoaster ride for NPR’s 2017 Tiny Desk Contest winners TANK AND THE BANGAS. Since earlier this year, the New Orleans based group has been on the road expanding their fan base with lively shows that are oddly kind of a mixture of afterschool special and Def Poetry Jam.

ACL 2017 was their final stop after 35 consecutive days on the road; however, the R&B, spoken-word and hip-hop band didn’t disappoint. Front woman, Tank, is the Black Mrs. Frizzle. She kept the crowd engaged like a veteran kindergarten teacher - not only with the magic of her voice but by dancing, singing, and being silly. Watching her in this Baby Bop-esque character invited the crowd to play along as well, which turbocharged the show.

Words by Monique Hatch


The ACL 2017 crowd swarmed the stage for D.R.A.M.’s concert, expecting to let loose to dance party anthems.

Their shock was almost palpable in realizing how much of D.R.A.M’s catalogue is R&B and soul. There were desperate attempts to mosh in a decidedly low energy environment, as well as constant demands that he play his most popular song, “Broccoli.”

People didn’t know what he meant when he warned at the beginning of the concert that he was going to do it how he does, even if he was in Austin for the first time. About half way through the concert, D.R.A.M literally announced that we had reached the higher energy portion of the performance, and only then did he give the people what they came for.

He played a few party songs, including one he debuted for the first time. Towards the end, he played the songs arguably responsible for his fame, “Cha Cha” and “Broccoli.” After that, most of the audience rushed out while he was still on stage. It was an awkward experience. The message: It’s difficult to have the best of both genres. Big recognition came later that night, when Gorillaz featured him onstage as a singer, rather than a rapper.

Words by Neo Bramlett


Gorillaz’ performance was easily one of ACL’s most explosive. They played songs across their timeline, mixing and matching genres like electronic, soul, alternative rock, and even reggae. The crowd included diverse fans of different backgrounds and ages.

And the visuals were the spectacle fans came for. Animated music videos, lazer lights, and live action footage turned it from a concert to an avant garde art piece. Many different artists appeared on stage, from their long-time collaborator Del The Funky Homosapien to D.R.A.M, an up and comer to the rap game. Overall, the performance moved the crowd on more than one level and had enough variety to fill two concerts. Don’t miss them for ACL 2017 Weekend 2.

Words by Neo Bramlett


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