Category Archives: Austin City Limits Music Festival

No ACL. Not this year.

So this year we aren’t going to the Austin City Limits Music Festival.  Call it a casualty of both parenthood and the dust from last year.
After last year’s ACL, Andy and I both decided if we were going again it would only be for one or two days — not all three — and we wouldn’t kill ourselves in the heat just to survive all day out at Zilker. The heat and the dust killed us.  I feel bad… because my brother went with us and it gave him a rotten impression of Austin and of Texas.
Then we had a baby.
I think we’ll spare our 5 week-old son the joys of the Texas heat, massive crowds and excruciatingly loud music.  Although one of his favorite bands is playing… The Shins.
Yeah… it IS one of his favorites. I must have played them often enough when I was pregnant for him to recognize them.  He calms right down when I play them.  Sometimes he drifts off to sleep like the music is a lullaby.  Other times he’s quietly alert in my arms.  I outta play them now because he’s starting to squirm.
Yep, no ACL for us this year.  It makes me a little sad.  I feel kind of old by not going.  But who knows?  There’s always next year.

My photographs

This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Austin City Limits Music Festival. Make your own badge here.

I’ve been going through the photos from ACL, and Andy found the above website to publish our photos.  It’s a pretty cool site.  I pulled out all my favorite ones and posted them.  I took almost 300 pictures suring the three days, which isn’t a lot, I know, but sometimes it was just too dang hot and dusty to lift the camera to my eye.

Check out the homepage… one of Andy’s masterpieces now graces the top of the page.  I love the way it’s lit… it came out really well.

ACL Day 3

Franz FerdinandDay 3 of the Austin City Limits Music Festival turned out to be the best music day for me.  I liked every band I saw, and even though it was by far also the hottest of the 3 days, it was well worth it.

We arrived after 2 and decided to find a seat for the Doves, which were going to perform 30 minutes later.  We had wanted to see some before the Doves, but we got a late start and the heat made us feel lazy.  Greg and I went out in the sun to hear the set, while Andy stayed on the blanket back under a tree.  It was so hot, sweat poured down my face and back, and I found people shadows to put me feet on, so the sun wouldn’t burn my toes.  I really liked the Doves.  I can’t really describe them better than they were a good rock band.  Some people compared them to U2, but I wouldn’t except in the very loosest terms.

Then we went over to another stage to get water and hear the Kaiser Chiefs.  They had a very vague-like Clash sound… but with more pop than punk.  They were good.

The Arcade Fire was next.  There were so many people… The band had violins and horns… it was really different, but good!  I told Andy the singer sounded like Depeche Mode, but he pointed out that the similarities stopped there.  The music was way better.

Bob Mould knows how to entertain the crowd.  He was the next set we saw. I was so exhausted form the heat, I actually fell asleep on the blanket during the show.  But not because he was boring.  Andy says that was his favorite performance.  I recognized one of the songs from a mix CD Andy made me years ago.  Bob’s been around forever, apparently, and he lives in Austin I think.  His rock was really good.

Fans go crazy for Franz FerdinandAndy and I left early for the photo pit at the SBC stage.  The place was mobbed… it took us 15 minutes to get through.  I think most people were camped out to see Coldplay, not the band we were looking forward to — Franz Ferdinand.  There were a ton of photographers, so with big, huge cameras, others with little point and shoot cameras, like Andy.  The crowd was going wild.  The couldn’t wait to see them.  They even started doing the old “Texas — Fight” chant.
Andy says he liked Franz Ferdinand’s performance better last year, because they were new to us.  We knew many of the songs this year.  But I don’t remember much about last year’s set.  They’re supposed to release their new album soon, which I’m sure we’ll get.

The dust was really getting thick during Franz Ferdinand, and we started walking toward the gates, but we decided to check out one last band — the Black Keys, who I loved.  They had a bluesy-rock sound that just sucked me in.  It was awesome.  Another CD to get next weekend at Waterloo.

Except for the dust, which was horrible, and the sun, it was a very successful festival.  You can’t do much about the heat, but the dust… I hope they’re more successful with the grass over the next year.  There were so many people with masks or bandanas… I’m not the only one who was bothered.  I’m still coughing up crap.


ACL Day 2

DustLet me cough up the dust in my chest and I’ll tell you how day 2 at ACL went.
No kidding… real dust.  The grass couldn’t stand up to the people at the festival and literally bit the dust.  By about 4 p.m. a thick layer hung in the air.  As the sun began to set, it was really noticeable.  And by the end of the evening, many people, myself included, had tied bandanas or scarves around their faces to keep the dust out.  Nasty.  I seem to remember more grass last year.  Less dirt.

Anyway, we arrived a little later Saturday so the heat wouldn’t zap us as badly.  We arrived in time to see the last 15 minutes of Built to Spill.  They were cool I guess. Nothing to write home about. 
Let’s see… then we saw the Frames.  The Chronicle raved about them.  I kind of liked them, because their songs were easy to listen to, but Andy and Greg weren’t crazy about them.  We left after 2 songs, so I didn’t have time to give them a chance. 
We checked out Martin Sexton, and hated what we heard and took off immediately for the AV stage, which so far hasn’t let me down.
What Made Milwaukee Famous was apparently a last minute sub for some other band, and they weren’t bad.  I probably wouldn’t mind seeing them live again.  It was your basic rock-punk sound.
We walked up to a mobbed Cingular stage to see Death Cab for Cutie.  They weren’t bad.  I could get into them I suppose. 

Walkmen1We left halfway through the set to get ready for a show all of us had been looking forward to.  The Walkmen.  These guys were awesome.  We actually stayed for the whole show, and Andy and I took advantage of our photo passes to get some close up in the photo pit during the first three songs.  This is the lead singer — crooning — off to the right.
They were so good.. so smooth.. fast-paced and energetic.  Finally… another CD I can get at Waterloo Records.  I wish I could describe them better.  I’m no music critic with slick descriptions.  But since they seem to suck at recommending bands… let me do the recommendations.   See the Walkmen.  They’re from New York and sound great.

We didn’t really have another band we wanted to see right after the Walkmen show so we kind of wandered.  I could hear the Dirty Dozen Brass Band in the Gospel tent.  I think I would have really liked to hear more from them, and I made a mental note to see them when they perform around town again.
My brother wanted us to see a little Widespread Panic, which I had been resisting… mostly because they were headliners, and I tend to shun the headliners.  Eh… you know… jam music.  I felt like I should have been tripping.
We caught some of the Drive by Truckers set, and, I swear, I don’t remember thinking they were that good last year, but this year I really liked them.
We walked over to the AV stage to see some of Roky Erikson, which I was totally getting into, but the band on the next stage was so fast-paced and energetic, it kind of drew us there… Bloc Party was great.  I guess they’re British or something.  The singer’s voice was so familiar, but I couldn’t figure out why. 

We saw a bit more of Widespread Panic before taking off.  While walking to the shuttles we caught the Oasis set, much to our dismay.  They’re still singing the shit that was so popular in the 90’s… you know… the songs everyone knows because they played them incessantly on the radio for 2 years.  Everyone in line was singing them while we were walking.  Ick!

Day 3 tomorrow—– with FRANZ FERDINAND!  I love those guys!

ACL Day 1

StageWow!  I got to cover this for a real media outlet on Day 1.  We arrived after about 1 p.m. and it was freakin hot.  We (my husband, brother and I) did the smorgasboard thing.  We caught a little Asleep at the Wheel… they were okay.  WE walked over to the Austin Ventures stage, which has become one of my favorite stages, and caught the Hairy Apes BMX.  They were very energetic, and had a cool punk sound.
We thought Mofro would be good, because of the write up in the Chronicle, but we weren’t as impressed.  Their sound was a little too slow for us.  It was bluesy and melancholy, sure… but slow-paced.
We walked by the AV stages again and caught some of dios.  I’m having a hard time remembering exactly what they sounded like.  It was kind of this 70s cover sound… they were okay.
Mates of State was supposed to be good, but Andy and I thought they sounded like the Rosebuds, only not as good.  We took off after a few songs.  Their audio seemed really off, too.  I’m not sure whether it was the sound guy or them, but it was annoying.
Nic Armstrong & the Thieves were recommended by our hair dresser, and we liked them a lot.  They had a great punk sound. 
But by far, my favorite of the day was Thievery Corporation.  Their sound was almost indescribable.  It was a mix of South American, Indian, roots, reggae and rap… it was awesome.  I know what music I’m going to add to my collection this week.


Day 3 –2004

So much music, so little time. Andy and I wanted to check out just about every band on Sunday, but obviously, we couldn’t. Other than the Pixies show on Saturday, Sunday had some of my favorite shows. I had never heard Calexico play, and they have fast become a new fav. They sound like desert-mariachi rock, and I didn’t want the show to end. I wouldn’t mind getting their CD. I could almost hear some influence from the Fabulous Cadillacs.
Then we went to see The Roots, and they put on a pretty good show. I didn’t like the crowd vibe as much, though. It was really interesting to see how the crowd dynamic changed between shows. I almost got to the point where I could tell whether or not I would like the band based on what kind of people were hanging out before the show. The crowds for Calexico, the North Mississippi Allstars, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood, were all very cool and easy-going… like they were there to see some really good music, not just to get drunk. Not that there’ anything wrong with having a good time… but it can be obvious when you’re not there to see the bands.
All in all, the Festival was incredible. We may not be able to go next year, but that’s okay. At least we got there once.
Be sure to check out the pictures!

Day 2 – 2004

If you’ve never lived in Austin, let alone visited here, it’s hard to explain why people from Austin love it so much. I usually get blank stares when I try to describe all of Austin’s wonders. They just don’t get it. They say, “What does Austin have that (insert your city here) doesn’t?” I could name off a bunch of my favorite restaurants, trails, stores, neighborhoods, drives, and still it just doesn’t explain it. So here I am sitting down to tell you all about our second day here at the festival, and to be honest, it was sooo Austin. Andy and I found a sweet place to park down by Zach theater, which is off Lamar, very close to where I used to live. We could have taken the trail along the river all the way to Zilker Park (the festival location), but we decided to head up to Restaurant Row and have lunch at Chuy’s. Restaurant Row is also known as Barton Springs, and Chuy’s just happens to be my absolute favorite Aus-Mex. We actually zipped in (its usually standing room only), had our chips and salsa (standard at most Austin restaurants, no matter what they serve), and ordered our favorite meals. Chicken soft tacos for me and Deluxe Chicken Enchiladas for Andy, and don’t forget the margaritas.
Anyway, then we headed down to the festival. Scores of people were walking down Barton Springs… or riding their bikes. You should have seen the number of bike racks set up for bicycles. You wanna talk bike friendly? It’s a cyclists dream come true! But I digress. The music was fabulos today! We saw a little of Cat Power, then headed over to the SoCo Art area to buy a couple of hats… we bought cowboy hats to keep the sun off our face and neck. While we were there, we stopped in the Gospel tent for a little “revival.” I heard two acts, one of which was called Shield of Faith. They were pretty good! Tony told us the Old 97’s would be good, so we went back up to the Cingular stage to hear them. They defienetly had a rock/western sound to them. I liked it! Anyway, we also saw The Gourds, which are very Western sounding… kind of like western bar music… Modest Mouse (they were good, but their stuff started to sound all the same afer the first few songs), My Morning Jacket, and Dashboard Confessions (neither of which impressed me much). We chilled until the Pixies show. We got up close to the stage for that one, and stood there waiting, with people crowded all around for a hour. Then the Pixies came out, and the energy was intense! I forgot about time and just felt the music. It felt like the show was too short, but they were something to see. I’m so glad we came… because really, the Pixies show is why we bought tickets in the first place. I think it was the same for a lot of people. I can not even come close to describing how MANY people were at the show. There had to have been 100,000. Seriously. There were so many people at the festival, Andy and I eventually gave up trying to go to other stages to see bands, we just sat where we were, because there were too many people to move through. We didn’t eat dinner, and avoided the lines to the bathroom as long as we could (EEWWWWWW). But you know, for that many people, the event was really low-key. Everyone was friendly, cool, and in control. Now that’s uniquely Austin. And leaving tonight… wow. The mass of people walking down Barton Springs was something you just don’t see everyday. Andy and I cut off from the main goup to take the trail back to the car. As we walked across the footbridge, we glanced over at the Barton Springs bridge, and it was really amazing to see so many people walking across it. It was a beautiful night, walking back along the trail, with the Downtown skyline visible across the river, and the UT (University of Texas, not Tennessee) tower shining off in the distance.
As you can imagine, we’re wiped. We both suffered from headaches today… mine from not eating when I should have, and Andy’s from caffeine withdrawal…I’m going to finish up this post and crash. We’ll do it all again tomorrow.

Day 1 – 2004

We’re here! Not much to say, but that this is really cool! The bands are amazing, the view is amazing, and Austin is just as weird and wonderful as we remember. I do have to say that it’s freakin’ hot here, and I’m not used to it, thanks to acclimation in Nashville. But we did drink plenty of water. ANYWAY, WE’RE OFF FOR SOME FETIVAL SUPPLIES, THEN ACL FESTIVAL DAY 2 HERE WE COME!