Monday, September 18, 2006

Austin City Limits Festival: Day Three Review

Bonjour from the beautiful banks of the Colorado River. Again, not really, I am at home clacking away at the keyboard to bring you, our intrepid readers, the skinny on Day Three of the ACL Fest.

Today, I decided not to do too much running, sticking it out the whole set for many of the acts I saw. The day started with a brief rain shower, but it rained hard. I'm talking sheeting action. We headed under a pavillion to wait it out. And as luck would have it, it stopped just in time for the first show we wanted to see.

The Stills

The day started out with The Stills. Ever since downloading Without Feathers from Emusic as couple of months ago, I was psyched to see them perform. They started out with It Takes Time, then commented on the dampness, thanking us for all showing up, and saying "we may get electrocuted, and you'll be here to see it!" It was a rousing set, consisting mainly of songs from the new album, but they did throw in some previously released ones. A very good show indeed.

About three-quarters into their set, we headed for lunch and to check out Austin's own The Black Angels and Finland based Husky Rescue. The Black Angels did nothing too impressive, but the droning sound of 70s power rock was a great background for lunch. Husky Rescue was electro-pop, a la The Cardigans. Again, nothing that wowed me, but it didn't suck.

We were really in that area for the next act, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley. Reggae to me is party music, and this was definately a party atmosphere. High energy, always getting the crowd involved, the show never had a break. Through the whole show, a guy was on stage waving a Rastafarian flag. Thats all he did. Near the end, Marley's seemed to be coming out of the woodwork, as two older brothers, I believe Stephen and Julian, came out. Stephen (I think thats what he said) came out for a couple of songs, then Julian joined them for Could You Be Loved. I was waiting for the ghost of Bob to join them on stage. The brothers left, then Damian ripped into the final selection, Welcome to Jamrock. Only problem I had was I couldn't understand a damn thing. I needed a translator. But it didn't matter. It was one of the best performances of the weekend.

Damian Marley

After a little break in the action (read: nothing I wanted to see), we got situated across the park for another reggae sensation, Matisyahu. He started out with what sounded like to me the vocals you hear calling Muslims to prayer. Yes, I know he is Jewish, but I am not, so I have no idea if they use the same kind of thing. His vibe was little more downbeat from Marley, but it was still a good show. As we were leaving, he busted out King Without a Crown, which followed us out of the crowd.

The New Pornographers

The rest of the day was solid, back-to-back performances. The evening started out with The New Pornographers. A killer set consisting of a good mix from Twin Cinema and the previous albums. Neko Case was as beautiful as ever, and wanted to get drunk, go see Petty and hit on your brother. And they were having fun, making witty remarks about other bands playing, telling Son Volt to keep it to a dull roar (they were at another stage at the same time, and playing very loud), and giving props to Ben Harper. The sound was very similar to that of the studio recordings, which makes me wonder if this is a spare time kind of gig, how did they sounds so good?

Following TNP was Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. Ben came out, sat down at a guitar laying horizontally, said "this is a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughn, Double Trouble, and all the true believers", then ripped into a scorching version of Voodoo Child. Then he went into the vaults with Burn One Down. G. Love made a special appearance for a song, as did the Marley's for Get Up, Stand Up. He was all over the map, playing every style he could get his hands on, from the guitar burners, to the acoustic jams, to reggae. If you have not seen Ben Harper recently, or ever, go do it as soon as possible.

Ben Harper

Next was the Philadelphonic stylings of G. Love and Special Sauce. We were lucky enough to be about 10 yards from the stage. This is the sixth time I have seen G. Love, and I have yet to go away unpleased. (Is that a word?) Bringing Philly to Austin was easy, opening with I-76 then sliding right into Booty Call. The energy was high, as G would go onto the camera platform in front of the stage and sing to the crowd. Garbageman made the set, as did a Gin & Juice intro to Cold Beverage. They finished off with about a five minute showcase of the members, with G. jamming on the harmonica, then stopping to let the keyboardist, Houseman, and Jimmy Jazz showcase, going around the circle twice, with G. filling the gaps. It was intense, and the crowd was loving it. One of my top 5 of the weekend.

The final act was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I am not a huge fan of his newer stuff. And I was hoping to hear more of the older songs you hear on the classic rock stations. I was pleased with the song selection, as he played Mary Jane's Last Dance, Won't Back Down, and Free Fallin'. The came the rains. What a way to end it, right? Well after about a 25 minute delay, he came back out, and started into a jam off of It's Good To Be King that never seemed to end. That proved kind of annoying, so we decided to leave. On the way out, we did catch some of Don't Come Around Here No More, almost a fitting way to end the weekend.

And that's the festival folks. Coming (hopefully) tomorrow, a final recap of the good, the bad, and the unfortunate. Check out the daily wraps for blogs, setlists, and photos and our site for more ACL previews and reviews.


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