The 2010’s have seen a resurgence of many trends that were popular in the 80’s — from scrunchies and sequins to denim jackets and cropped jeans — so why not bring back Robert Smith’s black eyeliner and smudged red lipstick while we’re at it? Six years after previously headlining ACL in 2013, The Cure returned to Austin on Saturday to celebrate their 40th anniversary as a band with a set featuring hits like “Friday, I’m In Love” and “Pictures of You,” as well as deep cuts such as “Shake Dog Shake” and “Burn,” the latter including a flute solo performed by none other than Smith himself.
Although The Cure have seen enough lineup changes in its four-decade career to rival Panic! At The Disco, the band was mostly back together for ACL, with original bassist Simon Gallup and longtime keyboardist Roger O’Donnell joining Smith onstage for the performance. Smith may be known for his gothic appearance, but there was no disguising his cheerful demeanor throughout the night. At one point, he even laughed and joked with the crowd between songs. This was surprising to many longtime fans in the audience as Smith usually does not speak until the very end of a show. Smith seems happier now that his band is partially reunited, and the audience at ACL appear to share his joy.
Though the crowd tended to skew towards the older side, a likely consequence of being scheduled for the same time slot as Childish Gambino, there’s plenty for teens and young adults to like about The Cure. Fans of Billie Eilish’s debut “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” an album partly influenced by Eilish’s experiences with sleep paralysis and night terrors, will enjoy encore opener “Lullaby,” in which Smith sings about his own nightmares. The encore begins just as Childish Gambino’s set comes to a close, so those who came for Donald Glover still have time to stick around for the last thirty minutes of The Cure.
Whether you camp out all day for a spot at the barricade, arrive just as Robert Smith takes the stage at 8 p.m., or arrive at 9:30 for the encore after Childish Gambino finishes his performance over at the American Express stage, The Cure should be required viewing for anyone making the trip to Zilker Park for the second and final weekend of this year’s ACL festivities. Their four-decade career has given us so many wonderful songs, and an excellent headlining set at the Honda stage. Next year’s headliner will have a tough act to follow.