Having slept for more than 3 hours, Editor in Chief Jessica and I found ourselves out the door and headed to the park in a somewhat timely manner. Pausing for only a moment at a local McDonald’s (ew, right?) [Ed. Note: fruit and yogurt parfait is delish!] for breakfast, we pointed our bodies toward the dust pit that was Zilker Park.
11:45-12:30 // Langhorne Slim // Dell Stage
As we shifted through the somewhat modest morning crowd, making our way towards the Dell Dome to get Jessica’s hair teased into the finest of “America’s Next Top Model” mode, we managed to catch a few songs from Kemado Records’ Langhorne Slim. Their mellow yet manic songs seemed to set the perfect soundtrack for what appeared to be the makings of a pretty calm start to a festival that would eventually peak into a frenzy at the hands of Beck. Yet, listening to these boys, better suited for a dive bar than a giant showcase, they seemed determined to hold their own regardless of the makeup of their surroundings. Scene be damned, Langhorne Slim gave the day their all, coloring me impressed. I fully expect myself to make an effort to seek out this band again.
12:30-1:30 // Old 97s // AT&T Stage
Since 1996, I have loved the Old 97s, yet have never been blessed with the chance to see them play. Needless to say, there was no way in hell I was missing there set at this year’s ACL. I must say I was rather pleased to experience how fluently their mix of alt-country twang and standard pop riffs carried over into their live act. Furthermore, watching Jess shake her ass in time to one of my favorite bands, having just discovered them, was one of my most coveted ACL experiences.
1:30-2:00 // Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed (interview) // Dell Dome
While waiting in line for the aforementioned teased out mess of a faux hawk Jess had to have, we got to overhear one of the many artist interviews that took place in the Dell Dome over the weekend. Jess was excited that we happened to be there for 50′s style rocker Eli “Paperboy” Reed, whom she had seen at Download: Philadelphia.
Following an extended stay in the Dell Dome, checking out some rad art by Mike Ming and making new friends (sup Andrea!), we headed back to the media area for a couple interviews. I must admit, I went into my interview with MGMT with a bit of apprehension. It has been stated pretty heavily and bluntly that these boys were moody, pretentious pricks who would have little to no issue with tearing you down if you rubbed them the wrong way. Turns out, however, those rumors could not have been more false. Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, simply sat and hung out with us, more or less, even opting to remain in conversation with us for nearly 20 minutes after the interview had ended. Sadly, the party had to be broken up in order for Jessica and I to hang with a different sent of boys, Electric Touch.
Local rockers Electric Touch were fabulous guys, who Jessica had seen play with The Airborne Toxic Event in Philadelphia not long before. She was excited to sit and chat while I wandered off to take full advantage at all the media tent had to offer. [Ed Note: Electric Touch are super sweet and fun guys.]
3:30-4:30 // Man Man // Dell Stage
Man Man easily had the set of the day, in my opinion. Honus Honus (nee Ryan Kattel) and company, decked out in white, shook their ass and won the hearts of all those in attendance. The crowd mirrored Honus on “Ballad of Butterbeans,” jiggling car keys and other noise makers in a manner that would make one think they were part of a Dr. Seuss book. Actually, Man Man’s set tends to remind me more of a trip to the circus than a day watching music. This is, however, not meant to take away from how musically talented and innovative this group is. It is nearly impossible to not get swept up into their infectious riffs, which hook you in, and keep you longing for more. Kudos to Man Man for being just catchy enough to become the only set on day two that we watched in it entirety.
4:30-5:30 // Erykah Badu // AT&T Stage
On our way to catch dinner in the media area, Jess and I were lucky enough to catch a bit of the legendary Erykah Badu. I was really quite impressed by her abilities to belt out notes that I’m not positive most people could even reach. Her version of “Amazing Grace,” sung near the end of her set, was on of the most beautiful renditions I have ever heard in my life. It highlighted her abilities to speak to a crowd of people at Austin City Limits, who otherwise might never have had the desire to see her sing. I know I’m a convert.
5:15-6:00 // Electric Touch // Austin Ventures
Known for their high energy act, Electric Touch did not disappoint. With guitars flying and bodies moving, these Austin boys burned their hometown to the ground, stealing the crowd from fan favorites, MGMT, who happened to be playing (loudly) directly to our left. And while, MGMT may be the critics pick, easily playing to 25,000 people, Electric Touch, with its crowd of 1,000 was easily your best buy.
5:30-6:30 // MGMT // AT&T Blue Room Stage
Due to their popularity, Jess and I were forced to watch MGMT from something like the 10,000th row away from the stage. So, while their sound seemed to be right on the money and the energy of the crowd appeared to be pushing toward a near frenzy, we hung around for “Time to Pretend,” before bailing to find a closer place to watch Conor [Oberst] (and fit in a tiny nap).
6:30-7:30 // Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band // AT&T Stage
While we had both already seen Bright Eyes, I had a feeling that Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band would be nothing like Oberst’s driving force of success. I was right. While I have always openly admitted that I find Conor to be a touch beyond emotional, bordering on manic and whining, I have also always credited him with being a genius. To me, the Mystic Valley Band not only confirms this, but solidifies it. With a bit of a Bob Dylan meets Ryan Adams sound to it, Oberst comes of a bit more aged and worn than in previous works. Furthermore, his live show remains tight and crammed with energy, making him a fairly difficult act to follow. Luckily for us, Beck was to follow him on the AT&T stage, and he’s not too shabby either.
8:30-10:00 // Beck // AT&T Stage
Opening with “Loser,” Beck straight up went for the kill from the very beginning. Follow that with “Devil’s Haircut” and “Timebomb,” and you’ve pretty much set the tone for a fairly kick ass set. Undoubtedly, the crowd, consisting of roughly 50,000 people agreed, as they gave their full attention to one slightly shy and awkward long-haired man. To my surprise, however, Beck was very crowd interactive, instead of offish and closed off, which I naturally assumed he would be.
However, torn between seeing a current legend in Beck, or a pair of established legends in Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Jess and I took the high road, choosing to catch half of both.
8:15-9:30 //Robert Plant & Alison Krauss // AMD Stage
I can think of a lot of artists I would love to shove together on stage, just to see what the results would be. Yet, to be perfectly honest, I am not sure I would have ever thought to place Robert Plant, formerly of Led Zepplin, next to Alison Krauss, easily one of the biggest names in bluegrass. However, there is no questioning that this all-star combination just gels. Their blended vocals compliment one another like I have never experienced before. Their rather beautiful set felt to be a fairly flawless way to end and pretty well planned lineup. I couldn’t have asked for more.
The duo were a bit cheated by the overpowering volume of Beck’s set across the park, but it did little to detract from the lovely sounds Plant and Krauss produced. Clearly annoyed at the competition, but laughing it away, Plant referred to Beck and company as “The Village People.” Not cool — twas the sound guy’s fault. We peaced out of ACL dancing to Beck’s “Where It’s At” before happening upon a ridiculous disco dance party outside of a random juice bar on Barton Springs Road, not far from the park’s entrance. Preferring sleep to disco inferno, we continued on our way, stoked for the culmination of one of the greatest festivals of the summer.
Stay tuned for Day 3!
Filed under: concerts Tagged: | alison krauss, austin, Austin City Limits, beck, bob dylan, conor oberst, electric touch, eli "paperboy" reed, erykah badu, featured, honus honus, iron & wine, langhorne slim, man man, mgmt, mike ming, mystic valley band, nik freitas, old 97s, robert plant, ryan adams, ryan kattel