Tuesday, September 18, 2007

ACL Wrap

Every year, Austin City Limits hosts ACL Fest - over 130 bands over 3 days. Always hotter than hell, in so many ways.

Here is my quick take from this year. (Warning - all of these reviews were subject to time of day, heat, state of mind, and personal preference. Your mileage may vary).

New bands I found I liked:
Sahara Smith
Kaiser Chiefs
Young Love
Rose Hill Drive
Butch Walker
Cary Ann Hearst
Ike Reilly Assassination

Shows I enjoyed more than I thought I would:
DevotchKa - known for slow stuff, their fast stuff they did live was fun
Regina Spektor - she was clearly blown away by the crowd, full of spark, and funniest damn lyrics
Arctic Monkeys - I like most of their songs
MIA - good show, high energy
Ghostland Observatory - Muse meets Prince, which sounds weird till you see them, but it works.

The Killers - the old songs I still like, a lot - the new stuff, not so much
Queens of the Stone Age - 3 good songs - still only 3 good songs
Dax Riggs - As Dead Boy he blew me away - as Dax, he's a downer

Ok to see, but didn't make me wanna buy their albums:
Bloc Party
My Morning jacket
One Mississippi
Peter Bjorn and John

I'm not really going to comment on Blue October, Joss Stone, Spoon (which were all fine, just not my favorite live performances); neither will I comment on Bjork, Arcade Fire, Muse, Bob Dylan - they have plenty of fans already.

A couple other notes...some bands are good in studio, some are good live, and some are both. And even those who are usually good live can have a hard time at ACL, where you are at a large outdoor venue in front of 30,000 to 60,000 people on a hot, sunny stage.

Which makes those that were good that much more impressive.

Oh yeah - the fire was impressive too. I was there right after it started, before they started a perimeter, and it was big and scary. You look at this raging inferno that is getting bigger by the moment as more propane tanks and porta potties explode, and realize that there's no amount of willing people with fire extinguishers that can do a damn thing to contain it. Then the police and festival staff start clearing a perimeter, and everyone is very cooperative and wants to help, but can't. You all start looking around nervously for the fire department hoping they'll get here soon because you really don't want Zilker to burn down (or ACL to get cancelled). Then they finally do show up, winding their way through the crowds, and quickly contain what is now a raging inferno as tall as the trees. And you realize how freakin' awesome the fire department is, the police, the ACL staff, and all the very cool crowd that shows up for this event every year (even if all your friends think you're an idiot for running over to video the fire...).

If you haven't been to ACL Fest, I highly recommend it.

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