Friday, October 10

Let's See A Show! ACL Edition

This is the closest I came to seeing Outkast.
Austin City Limits is one of the highlights for Austinites. Bands from all over come and celebrate the art of music by...well, performing music. Recently, the festival went to a two-weekend format, which equals six days of shenanigans. I'm not a huge fan of seeing shows if I don't at least semi know the artist, and fortunately two of my favorite bands were playing on Sunday. When the opportunity to pick up a wristband for just Sunday presented itself, I hopped all over it.

The festival for me actually started Saturday night. I was invited to see an Arum Rae show at Stubb's BBQ. This girl has an EP coming out on November 4 called Waving Wild, and one thing I can say about her is that she has SOUL. You can tell all of her songs mean a lot to her, and she's got one helluva voice to show off that emotion, too. If you get a chance to see her live, I'd recommend it. Her little shimmies and shakes while she sings are quite entertaining, as well. If an artist is having fun while they're performing, it makes things so much better. That's certainly the case here.

The first band I wanted to see was AFI, but they weren't playing until 2, and I arrived around 11. So that meant roaming around, trying to score some free swag. There wasn't much, but I wisely filled up my water bottle while the lines were non-existent. Hydration is important, people! 

A band I had never heard of but was kinda digging was called Modoc. They had a nice little aggressive sound, and seemed like they were just having a good time rocking out up there. Also very appreciative of the audience, which I in turn appreciate. Good stuff, y'all.

The Districts were a fun band, too. I considered the people who were on the Honda and Samsung stages the "bigger" acts, because those stages were both the largest, and had the most room for crowds to hang around at. The Districts kicked off the Samsung stage, and reminded me of like a Modest Mouse/Franz Ferdinand hybrid. Also, that passion made a lot of feels for us all.

I don't think anyone else I saw in the early part of the day was particularly impressive--Mo (the o has a slash through it) reminded me of a slightly less annoying MIA, and A Thousand Horses were alright. However, they did a song where they beatboxed, and told the crowd they could do it too by just saying "boots and cats" over and over again. That brought back memories of that awful GEICO commercial with the pig, which is a big negative in my book. C'mon, Horses!

I've been an AFI fan for over a decade now, which seems absurd and reminds me of how old I am. They did not disappoint--they're essentially how I am at karaoke: bouncing all over the place and worth checking out. Davey Havok is almost 40 by now, and he's still jumping all over the stage. He even crowd surfed on his knees. Quite impressive. 

Shockingly, his voice didn't quaver once whilst knee-surfing.
In addition, guitarist Jade Puget has large hair, and is quite impressive playing guitar. At one point he walked completely to the end of the stage, which extended outwards probably about two hundred feet to the side. Again, I flashbacked to my karaoke performances, where I'll wander to the back of the bar. Just want to make everyone feel included. You can't escape.

Of course, this being a Sunday, there was football being played. After AFI finished, I caught some shade in the ACL Beer Garden, and they had the Cowboys/Texans game on. Let me tell you: if you've never been caught in between an intrastate rivalry, it is QUITE enjoyable. Particularly if you really have no stock invested in the game. Granted, I picked Dallas to win in my Pick'Em league, but that was about it. The Cowboys won in overtime, and we all left like it was closing time at the bar and the lights just turned on. Time to scram.

Scramming led me to the Samsung stage, which had my second band of the day that I wanted to see: The Gaslight Anthem. These fellas from New Jersey certainly know how to write a catchy tune or two, and frontman Brian Fallon was cracking me up with his occasional banter between songs. He commented on the excessive Austin heat (it was probably a brisk 90 over the weekend), and said pants were a bad idea, and that his undercarriage was burning up. He also said the band tried a pork roll earlier, and it's like cocaine for the tongue. In addition, there was some bashing of Philadelphia, and he claimed the band had "been in the gambling life since they were born," and "you don't want to be a part of that life, kid." Who knows if there was actually someone in the crowd considering that gambling life. Oh yeah, they also played some great music, including one of my favorites:

Good stuff. Unfortunately, standing out in that hot sun got me not only tuckered out, but also hungry. After taking a quick survey on the available food options, I came to two conclusions: that I wanted a burger, and that it was worth the additional 10 minute walk to an actual P Terry's for half the price. Plus that P Terry's had a shaded area where I could sit away from the increasingly drunken masses.

Total Attendance: Way too many
I can safely say that Spoon had the most rude fans I encountered at ACL. I found myself in the middle of the crowd, only to decide to get some water before the set was over. Apparently this was a crime, as I was berated by a group of idiots for trying to walk around them to get out of the crowd. They yelled at me to find another path, and I told them "show me the way" like some bad 90s boy band song. One man pointed at a similarly impenetrable wall of people, and I told him that that wasn't an alternative way. There was one dude who seemed to soften his stance a little when he realized I was just trying to leave, but by then I was fed up. I saw a little bit of green grass and bolted out of there. 

The Replacements were a band I knew I had heard of, but really didn't know their music too well. A lot of older 40-somethings had been talking about them during The Gaslight Anthem's performance, and I like punk music, so I gave 'em a whir. They did a cover of "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5, but only a verse, which was a little irritating. I guess if I didn't like the song I'd be thanking them for finishing after a verse, so it's not too big of a negative. They played pretty fast for allegedly old geezers. Well job, gents.

Chromeo, or as I liked to refer to them, Lil' Chromeo, played in the penultimate performance of the evening, before Calvin Harris and Pearl Jam finished things off (on opposite sides of Zilker Park, that would be a weird duet). Chromeo was not too bad, although as a heavily electronic-influenced group, I felt like a lot of their songs sounded the same. It wasn't nearly on the level of a reggaeton album, but I probably couldn't pick out five different jams from a lineup.

Eddie Vedder demonstrating the correct way to reach for the wall
while swimming the 100-meter freestyle.
I opted to see Pearl Jam over Calvin Harris, because I didn't really feel like watching a guy push play on his computer and hearing overplayed songs that I already don't enjoy. Not that I'm a huge Pearl Jam fan, but hey, gotta support a local Chicagoan (as Eddie Vedder is). And he even showed up in a Walter Payton Bears jersey-shirt. Not bad at all. He went off on a little bit of a rant about voting at some point, and I noticed women around me rolling their eyes. Seemed strange considering Vedder was talking about having the right to choose, but hey, to each their own.

Me? I was rolling my eyes because I was tired. I snuck out to beat the crowds, and then veered off down a back road, because if there's one thing I don't like, it's walking behind slow people. Crisis averted. Good work, ACL, you lived up to the hype for the most part. Maybe I'll see ya next year.

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