Billie Eilish brings hits of past and present with mesmerizing stage presence


Kara Hawley

Billie Eilish performs during Weekend 1 of the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Oct. 3.

Noah Levine, Life and Arts Film Columnist


 Cheers rang out from the crowd as the lights dimmed in anticipation for Billie’s highly anticipated return to Austin City Limits. As if the repetition of the star’s name actually summoned her Bloody Mary style, the iconic line “you made me hate this city!” from the latest title track blared out from the speakers. Flashing white lights and a slow rising wall revealed the 19-year-old sporting a casual anime T-shirt and her classic pigtails.

Not wasting any time, Eilish jumped right into her first album hit “bury a friend” complete with menacing red lighting and appropriately ominous strobes. As the track reached its intense and horror-adjacent peak, the young star bent backward, much like her demonic performance in the corresponding music video. Continuing her reprise of the freshman collection, the singer moved into the equally daunting “you should see me in a crown.” The crowd bopped to the infectious beat as Eilish hopped around in front of a projected spider silhouette. 

As the show progressed, the star moved into a strong mix of songs from recent lot Happier Than Ever and former WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? The singer rallied the crowd, demanding them to get low and then rise for the beat drop of intoxicating “Oxytocin.” Ferocious barks rang out to signal the beginning of “I Didn’t Change My Number” complete with beastly pit bulls flashing on the big screens. Big brother Finneas joined little sister at the front of the stage for a solemn performance of “Your Power.” 

In the middle of the show, the screens flashed to the words, “Bans Off Our Bodies” as Billie announced her distaste for SB 8 — the Texas abortion ban bill — by throwing her middle finger in the air. Followed by a claim of near festival dropout, the seven-time Grammy nominee sympathized with her fans, acknowledging them as victims to the restrictive law.

Throughout the rest of her performance, the giant monitors showcased footage of the artist, distorted and reflective of the visual mood of each track. Moving toward the end of her set, Eilish brought back fan favorites such as “ocean eyes,” “bellyache” and “bad guy,” infusing one final burst of energy into the packed ACL crowd before the night’s end, with a perfect performance of “Happier Than Ever.”