Last Monday, M83 turned downtown's Aztec Theatre into a synth-infused, neon-drenched dance party. With a night sky backdrop complete with flickering and shooting stars, the French dream-pop masters took the audience on a trip through each wave of their '80s-throwback catalog — blasting off with the moody-yet-danceable backbeat of "Wait" before grooving through saxophone-heavy tracks off their latest album, Junk, eventually capping the night by wailing some of their most memorable songs, like "Midnight City," alongside an adoring crowd.
It's the kind of show that wouldn't have happened in San Antonio last year, or the year before that. That's because this year, for what appears to be the first time ever, Austin City Limits Music Festival headliners drove the 80 miles south to play here. Touring between ACL weekends one and two, M83 was just one of many of the festival's main draws spilling into San Antonio to play the Aztec. Among them are the Afrikaans-accented aliens with Die Antwoord, who, despite no less than two back-to-back weekend shows at ACL up the road, will play a sold out show in downtown San Antonio tonight.
That any ACL headliners are playing packed shows here between festival dates seems to be not just sign of San Antonio's evolving music scene, but also the result of a shakeup in the concert promotions business two years ago. In late 2014, entertainment giant Live Nation bought a controlling interest in the Austin-based C3 Presents, the promoter behind major festivals like ACL and Lollapalooza. Then last year, the Aztec's owners announced that Live Nation had bought a controlling interest in the fledgling 1920s-era relic, effectively taking over concert booking for a venue that owners had tried for years to rehab into a vibrant downtown performance hall without much luck.
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