Saturday, September 16, 2006

Austin City Limits Festival: Day Two Review

Guten Tag from Zilker Park! Well, not really. I am home in my air conditioning in Pflugerville, recovering from one heck of a day. While yesterday was a complete mixed bag, today was more of a good, better, best, with a few exceptions. Hey, nobodys perfect.

The Exceptions: This is no way a slight on the music. I (and Daun) just did not dig the performances of Nada Surf and The Raconteurs. Nada Surf, I didn't get to see much of, as I was checking out other stages that I wanted to see more. I came in right when they started Popular, not too bad, but the wife wanted to leave, because she was not enjoying it. I took her word on it, and we went elsewhere. As for Jack White and friends, you should dance with who brought ya! They played Steady as She Goes as their third song! About a third of the crowd left after that. Then they went all experimental and jammy, not my type of thing.

The Good: For the rest of the day I was pleased with what the acts were putting out. I was stage hopping for the most part, only staying for at least half the set for a hand-selected few, so some of my reviews are based on 3-4 songs. We got there a bit before noon and were wandering around and landing in front of the Rocket Summer. Texas-based pop-rock act. The lead singer was really enjoying himself on stage, and it passed on to the crowd. My guess is the studio sound is much like the pop-rock you find on regular radio stations, but the live performance did not have that radio act feel. Dark and broody Murder By Death was not the typical mope-rock band on stage. The cellist was absolutely into it, as was the rest of the band. TV on the Radio went a little experimental on its already experimental sound and added a few more pieces of "noise" and turned up the fuzz on the guitar. While I'm not big on female-with-guitar acts, Aimee Mann did put on a good show, vocally soulful and beautiful, putting an acoustic twist on "One". You know, "One is the loneliest number". That's Three Dog Night if you didn't have siblings or parents that listened to it.

Ben Kweller with Bloody Nose

The Better: Today was apprently Texas act day. Centro-matic played their alt-country with abandon, while Neo-New Wavers I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness rumbled through their set, playing mostly from their album, Fear Is On Our Side. The vocals were so much better than when I saw them at Emo's back in mid-Summer. The brooding guitars and synths sent me back to my early teens when I first discovered Joy Division and the like. Ben Kweller was great, but had to cut his set short due to a nosebleed. There was blood on his guitar and piano. Kinda gross, they had it up on the big screen. He asked for tampons from the crowd, and when received, he said they were a good fit. Eww! He was very apologetic when he left and would come back soon. The Secret Machines drove through their set with solid, buzzy guitars and stellar vocals. The Shins were a definite crowd favorite. I was pretty far back, so the banter was muted and I didn't catch much, but the music was great. And contrary to something I have heard before, Kings of Leon put on a very good show. Not much on the interaction with the crowd, they sure know how to throw down some jams.

The Best: These are my performances of the day. I couldn't just pick one, so I set them apart into three categories. Better yet, all three are Austin area acts.

What Made Milwaukee Famous

Best crowd interaction goes to What Made Milwaukee Famous. They knew where they came from (that's right here in Austin) and made sure to treat the crowd. Between every song almost were comments and questions to get the crowd going. Two lines of the day: "We sweat, so You can dance", talking about how hot it is and how other artists dress like they don't sweat and "We'll be signing albums over at the music tent, we'll sign whatever, wink wink, nudge nudge, just bring it!".

Best musical selection is hands down Willie Nelson. I am not a country music fan, but this is Willie Nelson, for god sakes. He played all the favorites: Crazy (Patsy Cline, but I believe he wrote it); Me & Bobby McGee (Janis Joplin romp); Georgia On My Mind (Ray Charles); City of New Orleans (Arlo Guthrie); Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys; All The Girls I've Loved Before (No Julio though); and On The Road Again. When he spoke he sounded drunk or high, but his singing voice was true, just like you would hear it off a studio recording. I can say I have seen a Country legend and a cultural icon.

Ghostland Observatory

Best production/peformance goes to Ghostland Observatory. These guys weren't even on the original card, added as a last minute cover for a cancellation. All I can say is wow. Theatrics was the name of the game. The producer/drummer Thomas Turner entered the stage in a light blue full length Dracula cape with the high collar. Lead singer Aaron Behrens was dressed much like the previously mentioned women-with-guitar, sporting a pink top and braided pigtails. Hell, I couldn't tell he was a he until I checked in the program. He was moving much like Freddie Mercury would around the stage, strutting around, gyrating, whatever he pleased. They play an Electro-Funk Punk glam rock fusion. Yeah, it's hard to explain. The studio cuts do it some justice, but this is a band to be experienced live. I sure will be there next time they play Austin (which will most likely be soon). Go see them when they come to your town. You will not be disappointed.

Get more info as to what happened today at the Daily Wrap on the ACL Fest page. Also check our site for previews of the rest of the weekend. For those who couldn't make it, AT&T's Blue Room is webcasting select shows. Sunday's webcast schedule is:

12:30 PM Kathleen Edwards
01:30 PM Sam Roberts
02:30 PM KT Tunstall
03:30 PM Jack Ingram
04:30 PM Calexico
05:30 PM Sun Volt
06:30 PM The Flaming Lips *Partial set only
07:00 PM Ben Harper *Partial set only
07:45 PM Muse
08:30 PM Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers


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