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'I'm still learning how I'm supposed to rock out' | Kiwi pop star Benee embraces the festival hype at ACL

Benee’s young fans were out in force for the singer’s Friday evening set on the T-Mobile stage.

AUSTIN, Texas — Benee’s stage presence is a little awkward, mostly hilarious and full of screaming and excitement.

“I’m still learning how I’m supposed to rock out,” she told the crowd at her Friday evening set at Austin City Limits. “I always end up wanting to twerk.”

Like Lorde before her, Benee quickly launched from making alt-pop music as a teenager in New Zealand to international stardom. Her song “Soaked” spent 22 weeks on the New Zealand Top 40, but she rose to international fame after her song “Glitter” went viral on TikTok.

The 22-year-old singer, dressed in a tie, ruffled shorts and moon boots, played the T-Mobile stage for a mostly young crowd on Friday. While Benee is still figuring out how her viral online success translates to the live music festival format, she has fully embraced the “rock star” hype – screaming with enthusiasm between songs and bouncing about the stage.

The set kicked off with “Tough Guy,” Benee’s debut single from 2017, before moving into “Happen to Me” and “Find an Island,” a song with a bouncy sea shanty-like riff. The screen behind her showed glitchy graphics with pastel pixels and, sometimes, cats.

Benee’s music flows from dance rock on tracks like “Green Honda” (which she told Zilker Park she wrote about her green Honda, Steve), to pop-rock songs with autotune and elements of trap, like “Snail” and “Never Ending.”

The excitement peaked as Benee closed out the evening with a fan favorite and another viral TikTok hit, “Supalonely.” Even the casual ACL festivalgoer unfamiliar with Benee or her music might have heard “Supalonely” or "Glitter," and the performance became one big dance party during those songs.

There was noticeably a mass exodus in the crowd following “Supalonely,” as Benee told festivalgoers she had one more song – though apparently many already got the song they came for.

Benee closed out the night with drum-and-bass track (“very big in New Zealand,” she says) “Sheesh” and ran out in front of the stage to give those in the front row a high five and a hug.

Those wishing to catch more Benee can see her at Scoot Inn with Spill Tab on Saturday, Oct. 15. She also has a free show Friday night upstairs at La Condesa on West Second Street. Doors open at 10:30 p.m.

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