Liveshot: Conan Gray recalls Austin roots in ACL performance

Sage Dunlap, Associate Life&Arts Editor

Recognized as one of Austin’s most famous homegrown acts, Conan Gray expressed his gratitude for performing in his hometown — but made one request to Austin City Limits festival organizers. 

“I miss Texas, but we should have a petition with ACL to have it in the winter,” the singer-songwriter said.

Pop star Conan Gray performed a collection of songs from his debut album Kid Krow, as well as his latest album Superache, released in June. Showcasing both his pop earworms and heartbreak ballads, the singer took the stage Friday afternoon and made a point to remind his audience of his Texas roots.

Raised in Georgetown, Texas, right outside of Austin, the singer reflected on what he missed about living in the state — a sweet moment that made the Zilker audience erupt in applause and laughter. Gray’s list of things he missed about the Lone Star State included his Texas audience, Buc-ee’s, Sonic drive-thrus and the fact that “No matter where you go, it smells like meat.”

Gray often reflected on his youth between songs, expressing the family issues he faced in his childhood and assuring the crowd that their families don’t define them before embarking on his 2022 song “Family Line.” The singer also gave a shoutout to Heather, the namesake of his 2020 indie-pop hit that put him on the map. 

“She might even be here right now, so Heather — if you’re out there, I’m sorry,” Gray said before securing his guitar and strumming its opening chords.

While Gray performed most of his songs from a raised platform, his infectious presence filled the stage with ease. During his performance of “Wish You Were Sober,” the screen behind the singer displayed falling roses as he strutted around the stage grasping his rose-covered microphone stand — a romantic sight that compounded the emotion behind Gray’s booming vocals. 

While strobe lighting and a frilly black cowboy hat added to Gray’s set, his mixture of numerous vulnerable anecdotes ultimately allowed the singer-songwriter to connect with his hometown audience.