A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Austin City Limits 2006

This past weekend was what I had been looking forward to for quite some time, the annual Austin City Limits festival in Austin, TX. Last year I had stumbled in on the final day after being evacuated from Galveston due to Hurricane Rita. Unfortunately, that Sunday the high temperature was also 117 degrees. Needless to say, I didn't stay too long in 2005, though I did catch an unbelievable performance by The Arcade Fire and Chi-town’s own Wilco tore it up as well.

This year I was lucky enough to have my buddy come down from D.C. and we were well stocked and prepared. This basically meant 2 water bottles apiece, some sunscreen, clandestined beef jerky (homemade!), lawn chairs, and other goodies you might take to a music fest. The weather was absolutely fantastic (for Texas in September, that is). Sat. and Sun. were downright balmy, barely cracking the 90s and overcast both days. Friday was hot, but not dutch-oven hot.

Highlights:

Wolf Parade ripped through a tight set despite being short a guitarist, who apparently was sick at home in Canada from eating something the last time he was in the States. Spinach, anyone?
I was looking forward to seeing them and they did not disappoint.

The Shins played tight, Albuquerquian pop that made everyone smile, though their keyboardist seemed much more reserved than in past shows.

The New Pornographers kicked their power pop into high gear, providing a quality set.
Sound problems abounded, however, as evidenced by Neko Case offering "a blowjob for a little bit of reverb in [my] earpiece." A.C. Newman also made also referred to NAFTA as, “Something only Mexicans and Canadians know about, and it’s just so that America can fuck us.”

Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals and Damian "Junior Gong" Marley played a spirited rendition of 'Get Up, Stand Up' for their closer. Harper also rocked a sweet opening cover of "Voodoo Child." Not a huge fan going in as I always equated him with the Jam Band subset, but he transcended that categorization. At several points during the Harper set, one extremely jubilant/inebriated/heat exhausted M. McConaughey was shown on screen, sequestered in the middle aisle, jumping around like a monkey in rapture.

Thievery Corporation also killed it. I wasn't familiar with them going in but am a big fan now. Nothing like a sitarist, 2 turntables, a slew of Rastafarians, a bellydancer, and some sultry female vocals to get the crowd going.

Jose Gonzalez played an intense yet mellow set and was very impressive.
Loved his cover of ‘Teardrop.’

Ween were fun and it was nice to see them live. ‘Piss Up a Rope’ was appreciated.


And the highlight for me was definitely Massive Attack.
They were incredible, even missing Daddy G, who apparently flew home to be with his new baby boy. Horace Andy was there as was Elizabeth Fraser. The stage lights were fantastic, and the set was heavily weighted towards their Mezzanine material. I had extremely high expectations and they managed to exceed them. Ironic to note that the ONLY groups to have any political banter were from either Canada or England. Nothing like a culture of fear and repression to keep the Rock inoffensive! Willie Nelson probably had a few jibes, but we missed him (though apparently the Lousiana po-po didn’t!)

I also should add that I caught Oliver Mtukudzi at the Threadgill’s aftershow. So much fun. A really nice outdoor venue that was intimate and friendly. Most of the audience danced the night away, which I did as well until my back wouldn’t let me do anymore. It was pretty sweet though, you could stand about 5 feet from Tuku as he played. We also had some dinner before the show and sat next to the band as they ate. Funny to see that the dudes all had boneless steak and chips for dinner and some of the women had sadza (stiff porridge). There were plenty of Zimbabweans there as well. Also present was a plethora of absolutely HORRIBLE white-man dancing to the African beat and the requisite hippie contingent. Included in the hippie contingent was the ridiculous hula-hoop girl, whose ending comment, “Well, you know, I love ALL music” almost caused me to force-feed her a bottle of shitty patchouli oil.

Disappointments:

Not really too many. I'm not a huge Gnarls Barkley fan and I thought they were a little lackluster, though the lab coats were a nice touch.
I’ve enjoyed the little of TV on the Radio that I've heard but they didn't do much for me.

Shuttles, food, beer, misting stations, water, parking, and good vibes were in abundance. Next year though, I'm bringing the lawn chairs and lounging all weekend. Another trick we learned--pick who you are going to see based on stage proximity...Saturday we stayed on one end of Zilker Park and Sunday the other. Much more pleasant and feasible than having to constantly trek back and forth (i.e., Friday). Sure, you miss some good shows, but over the course of three days it all comes out in the wash.

Oh--and quote of the festival (as heard by my friend Colin)?

"Hey! It's that one song by that one guy!"

2 Comments:

Blogger steve said...

Wow, Wolf Parade sounded good. And intense.

2:34 PM

 
Blogger Jefe said...

Yeah they were REALLY good. We were pretty close to the front and it was REALLY loud. I was very impressed. They sounded very tight. Spencer Krug kept complaining about the sound and stuff at the beginning, but they still rocked well.

7:31 PM

 

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