AUSTIN, Texas — In the toasty Texas heat, Boy George took to the stage with Culture Club at the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Saturday afternoon in blue plaid pants, a tall hat and a jacket – because, fashion.
“Today has a little bit of a gay theme because I’m here and Lil Nas is here and P!nk, that’s kind of gay,” he told the crowd at the Honda stage. “I’m an OG – an original gay.”
Age isn’t a factor for the UK rockers, many now pushing past 60. There was no shortage of sparkly tops, dresses and leather pants. And Boy George has no issue hitting the notes with strong vocals.
After kicking off the set, they went into a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” which Boy George said they’d do in the style of “an old rave song.” While many of the fans’ raving days are long past them, it was a well-known hit that got the crowd going.
From rave to groovy sax solos, the band played their 1983 hit “It’s a Miracle” back-to-back with “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya.”
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Then it was time for the reggae.
Boy George introduced “Everything I Own,” a song originally by American soft rock band Bread, by telling how he first heard the reggae version of it by Jamaican artist Ken Boothe.
White British bands doing reggae music in the '80s was arguably one of the more cringey musical trends of the decade. Culture Club did it. Eric Clapton did it. The Police put out a whole reggae album.
But a reggae rhythm is of course behind one of the group’s most famous hits, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” which Culture Club played next to big cheers.
Then, more reggae, with Boy George’s “Eyeliner Voodoo.”
As the band wrapped up a cover of T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get It on),” the clock approached 5:15 p.m., their designated finish time. They had yet to play their biggest hit, “Karma Chameleon,” the obvious closer. Still, they began playing it, as festivalgoers waited for the act on the adjacent Miller Lite stage, Sofi Tukker, to begin a 5:15 p.m. set.
Set times at festivals like ACL are notoriously rigid. Last year, the festival apologized to Phoebe Bridgers after her set was cut for going over time.
And so, around 5:17 p.m., three-quarters of the way through “Karma Chameleon,” Culture Club’s sound was cut – though the artists and fans didn’t seem too upset and saw the band off with one last cheer.
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