Everything about the decision to cancel The Interview makes me angry. Another drama about North Korean dissidants got the plug pulled too. And the replacement screenings of Team America got canceled today. Because people are afraid of this guy. There are no words...
Netflix, please buy the movie and release it online. Because unlike Sony, I still have some faith in you.
HAERTS – I pulled myself out of bed early enough to make it in time for HAERTS 11:30am set time. I’ve seen them open a few festivals now. They deserve a much better time slot. They put on a stellar show to a very sparse crowd.
Mo – Given that it was still so early, the main stage wasn’t a hot mess yet. So I headed over to see Danish pop star Mo (the o is supposed to have the Ghostbusters line through it but I’m incapable of finding international characters on my keyboard). She was so much fun. First off, she looks like Sporty Spice. And she had her hair in a ponytail on the top of her head and used a scrunchie. This all endeared her to me before her music started. And it was super catchy danceable stuff. She bounded about the stage, dancing like a mad women, then eventually brought her dancing into the crowd. It was a total party before 1pm. Toward the end of her set, she became by favorite person ever by shouting, “And now I play for you a song by my favorite all-time band the Spice Girls!”
Cults – After hearing AFI’s set from a distance (taking a shade break) I caught Cults on one of the smaller stages. They were fantabulous and did a great cover of “Total Control” by the Hotels. Someone in the crowd also had my favorite flag of the festival. Most of the flags were pretty straightforward – state flags, rainbows, college flags. But this fine gentlemen decided to go with an obscure pop culture reference and had a “Top of the muffin to you!” flag, complete with a picture of a muffin. Seinfeld FTW.
Real Estate – After catching the 2nd half of the Broncos game, I saw Real Estate. I’ve seen them before at the 9:30 Club but this was kind of meh. I should have picked Jenny Lewis for that timeslot.
The Replacements – I headed over to the East main stage early to get a good spot for the Replacements. Their set was probably the thing I was most excited about going into the festival. An early highlight was “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out.” Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson were total wiseasses and I loved it. They covered the Jackson Five and ended their set with “Bastards of Young” (at which point I thought I might pass out because I was so excited) before returning for a two-song encore of “Left of the Dial” and “Alex Chilton.” They are so much more than a nostalgic reunion act. They’ve still got it. The only bummer of their set was that it conflicted with Spoon.
Pearl Jam – Somehow, I’d never seen Pearl Jam live until ACL. They were a great choice to close out the festival. They put on an epic two-hour set that spanned their career. Songs from Ten were my favorite, that being one of the ultimate 90s albums for me. But even their deeper cuts off other albums that I was less familiar with were great live. Vedder’s drunken stage banter was endearing. I have new found respect for Mike McCready’s guitar chops after seeing the shredding up close and personal. They covered “Imagine” but the best cover was the rollicking rendition of “Rockin’ in the Free World” that closed out the festival.
Video recap here. Consequence of Sound’s review of the whole festival here. Rolling Stone’s review here.
Spanish Gold – I lasted two songs into Empires before abandoning them in favor of Spanish Gold. Nothing to write home about, but enjoyable enough to kill the time before Mac Demarco’s set. They ended with a cover of “Poison” which seemed very out of place with the rest of their set.
Mac DeMarco – What a fun set. He was clearly having a good time and it just rubbed off on the crowd with a general positive vibe. He stopped midway through for a cigarette and invited a dude from the front row onto stage with him for a Bob Marley cover.
Rey Pila – After Mac I was planning on heading to the food court for lunch to continue my quest eating all the barbecue and tacos in Texas but I was lured into the smallest stage by the sounds of Rey Pila. They are from Mexico City. Their music was instantly enjoyable. And they have a very charismatic lead singer. The volume of the music was way too loud, but it was so much fun I figured it would be worth the pain in my ears. Check them out.
Lucius – I nabbed a front row spot for Lucius. They were up against Icona Pop, which was a bummer, but I figured I’m obsessed with Lucius’ whole album and I only know a handful of IP songs. Plus Lucius was on a smaller stage. They were killer. Even better than their stellar 9:30 Club show from earlier in the year. Their vocals live are bizarrely powerful. The Head and the Heart came on stage to join them for a song. And Holly and Jess ended the set by crowd surfing as they sang their last song. Clear highlight of the day.
Lana Del Rey – This was probably the biggest let down of the festival for me. I like her albums but was nervous as to what she’d be like live. The answer is “not very good.” After the Outkast fiasco, I got to the main stage early enough to actually be kind of close for Lana Del Rey and Eminem. I could barely hear here, which says a lot considering how loud everything was at the festival. She just has no energy as a live performer. It was downright boring. I never need to see that again. I don’t even think it would be better in a small venue. Summertime sadness indeed.
Eminem – I hadn’t seen Eminem since the Family Value Tour my senior year in high school (along with X-ibit, Papa Roach, and Limp Bizkit…how’s that for an embarrassing lineup in retrospect). Eminem was awesome then and he was awesome now. He’s is 100% back on the top of his game after all the rehab stuff. A lot of people clearly came just to see him. Unfortunately these people were 1) also in the front and 2) really annoying. Also, apparently I still know all the lyrics to “The Real Slim Shady.” Didn’t know I had it in me.
In October, I took a field trip down to Texas for the Austin City Limits Festival. A few general notes about the festival before jumping into the day-by-day highlights. What a well-run festival. It was super easy to get there via festival shuttles. There were plenty of water stations and bathrooms. The food court was crazy good. They had an indoor beer garden showing football so I didn’t miss the Broncos game. I was seriously impressed. I also love love love that it’s a festival that doesn’t involve camping. I don’t camp. I loved being able to stay at a hotel. They had an awesome cash-less system where you could pay for pretty much anything via your festival wristband. These people should be in charge of more musical stuff. It was by far the best run festival that I’ve been to. Other than the two main stages it was really easy to get up close on all the other stages.
Now for the day one highlights:
Temples – I’d never heard of them, but they were listed in a “Top 10 Acts You Must See at ACL” type article that I read on the flight to Austin. And they weren’t up against a lot of stiff competition with a 1:15pm start time. They were awesome. Just solid, no frills, melodic rock music. Like they could open for Blur or Foo Fighters or Artic Monkeys and fit right in. I stood next to someone who looked just like Jessa from Girls. I’m 90% convinced it was Jessa from Girls.
Bleachers – I could hear Jimmy Cliff’s set from a distances as I hid in the shade for a while during the hottest day at the festival. I reemerged from the indoor beer garden in time to see Bleachers. At that point in time I didn’t have the Bleachers album and I’d only heard the “I Wanna Get Better” song that I’m kind of meh on. But I heard great things about their 9:30 Club stint in September so I figured I’d give them a shot. I’m so glad I did. All of their songs were instantly likeable. Now that I have the album, the only songs I don’t like are the Grimes and Yoko Ono collaborations and obvi they couldn’t play those live. Jack smashed a guitar at the end, which seemed a bit too hardcore for up-tempo catchy pop rock songs. But I’ll forgive him because he did a bitchin’ Cranberries cover.
St. Vincent – I had all intentions of seeing Chvrches between Bleachers and St. Vincent. But I didn’t know how much of a shitshow the main stage was when I plotted my game plan for the day. ACL lets you bring in lawn chairs – you just can’t sit in them too close to the stages. But on the West end of the festival the main stage and the 2nd stage were too close together. And in what little space there was between the stages was filled with what can best be described as a very hard lawn chair maze. I was stuck in it for 15 minutes. When I finally got out I wasn’t close to the Chvrches stage and my odds of making it in and back out in time to see St. Vincent seemed slim to none. So I went over to the other side of Zilker park and got a 2nd row spot for St. Vincent. Her set was by far my favorite for day one and was probably the best of the whole festival. They choreography seems weird when you just get it for one song on SNL or whatnot, but when you see the whole set it’s one of those things that is so crazy that it works. Annie Clark was on fire. Her guitar chops are criminally underrated. She puts on a true performance in the full sense of the word. The set was heavy on her most recent album which made me happy. At the end of her set she got on a security guard’s shoulders, went to the crowd barrier, and commandeered a giant Colorado flag.
Belle and Sebastian – They were after St. Vincent on the RetailMeNot Stage (my favorite of the festival) and played at sunset. Their set was so gosh darn happy. And their new songs were great. Easily the second best set of the day.
Outkast – I ran back across the park to see the tail end of Outkast’s first song, “B.O.B.” I was light years away from the stage. “Ms. Jackson” was my favorite, but you’ve never seen so many white people lose their shit as when Outkast plays “Hey Ya.” After a while I was over it so I left a little early. I’m not sure if I was just tired from a hot day or if I don’t really like Outkast that much, aside from Stankonia (which I’m pretty sure is the only Outkast album I own). Either way, I bought a festival t-shirt with an armadillo on it and peaced out.