ACL Fest 2011: Day 3

Our morning started off awesome: we slept in, I didn’t run (again), and we drove down south to eat brunch at Michelle and Micheal’s where we were fed amazing breakfast tacos and bloody mary’s. It was officially the first day that Buddy and I were able to get drunk (file under: blessings, curses of living at altitude) and so we pegged it early as a “heavy drinking day.”

We made it just in time to check out my first-see of the day, Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr whose quirky banter and slightly poppy indie sound started my morning off right. Along with their pop came sun and heat for the first time that weekend.

Next up were the Walkmen who played in sport coats despite the heat.

Eileen and KD, my college dormmates

At some point Buddy decided he was hot enough and drunk enough that clothes weren’t necessary.

Instantly happier

We hit up Chiddy Bang next, only to bail early for Crunchy Chicken Avo Cones. I also wanted a good spot in the center of the gospel tent for Bomba Estero, who I heard put on a “party.” It was pretty extremely hot and sweaty in that party, in the best of ways. If you like Los Amigos Invisibles, check these guys out next.

Bomba Estereo

We kept with the South American theme and ran over to secure a close spot for Manu Chao next. Buddy and one of our neighbors had a two person mosh session while the rest of the crowd went nuts and the lead singer made himself bleed creating bass by thumping the mic against his chest.

Manu Chao with Anna and Liana

Last show of the weekend: Arcade Fire. While their shows are always incredible, this one seemed all the more intense. It was fun to spend it with old REI coworkers, a few whom I haven’t seen in five years. We also had a massive 30 person dance party the whole last half hour in which we all danced around like five year olds in the dark and took turns pulling in more people: “I’m not sure if you realize, but we’re having a dance party. Either join us or scram!”

It was an appropriately memorable way to end yet another ACL fest gone by. I have no intention of stopping my tradition yet.

I love it!

You can see all the photos from the weekend here.

ACL Fest 2011: Day 2

Day 2 was relaxing. With little to no agenda for most of the afternoon, we actually spent a few hours laying under the Zilker Beach Tent eating mini-pies and wishing we were young enough to get our faces painted into alter egos in ACL Kiddie-fest.

We did get there early enough to catch my one must-see of the day: Aloe Blacc. His show, combined with the amazing dance party that was Cut Copy that afternoon, were my standout hits of the day.

Cut Copy Dance Party

I’m glad I skipped Cee-Lo Green because all reviews pointed to poor. We caught a bit of Twin Shadow (NO) and Young the Giant (pretty good). I wish I’d had the energy to stand in the rainstorm and watch Fitz and the Tantrums but instead I napped and ate pie.

I won free aftershow tickets to see Empire of the Sun and then tried to give them away and failed. We tried to see Stevie Wonder but apparently 95% of the audience didn’t get to see Stevie Wonder due to poor sound. Thus, looking to escape a repeat of the headache that is leading Buddy through a massive crowd of lemmings, we left early and went to bed.

ACL Fest 2011: Day 1

Another year has come and gone and Austin City Limits Festival celebrated it’s 10th Anniversary this year, which means that I’ve been to 9 years worth of amazing music in a row. Notable changes for next year include a price hike and dates in October again (yay!).

This year I took Buddy with me. He was literally afraid to commit to traveling to Texas for months. We watched the temperatures rise higher and higher and he waffled back and forth: yes, he’ll go, no, he’ll melt. He finally committed and we were thankfully blessed with extremely mild temperatures, a veritable rainstorm (the first in months for Texas), and a generally good time.

Where Theophilus London and Wild Beasts underwhelmed, my new favorite lady Brandi Carlile graciously and humbly sent Austin into a dancing frenzy and raised spirits. She adapted to the large crowd just as well as she seemed to feel at home in our small South Lake Tahoe hall.

The Smith Westerns put on a pretty good show but I don’t feel the need to run out and see them again. Big Boi enticed everyone with a show made up of old Outkast material and the best gems from Sir Luscious Leftfoot, though, while entertaining, it felt slightly stale. Where was he last year?

All is good

I stuck around with Buddy to watch his pick of the day: Nas and Damion Marley. Not my cup of tea but he had a grand time and got to harass some poor engineering nerds to quit being lame and join the party.

Sunset in Zilker

I forced Buddy to stick around at the front of the stage for an hour waiting on Kayne West, everyone’s favorite person to hate. If you want to tell me he sucks but you’ve never given My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a true listen, then you can just shut your mouth. His show was just as grand as one would expect and I’d write a review, but it won’t do it as much justice as this one. What they said.

After being at the same stage for three hours out of fear to move for the density of the crowd, it was everything I could do to stand and wait for “Lost in the World.” I had to hear it. It was worth feeling like I was going to die if I didn’t pee for the entire last hour while listening to Buddy freakout over the crowd.

>ACL Fest 2010: Day 3

>By day 3 of ACL Fest I’m always feeling pretty sluggish. Al was feeling the same way so I set her up in the gospel tent (always a rabblerousing good time) and headed over to catch local Austin band SPEAK. I had a chance to see them in May at the Mohawk and was super impressed.

After that, I headed over to chill in the tent with Allison and caught the Relatives, a gospel band from (I think) Dallas.

We left Al in the tent and went to see The Morning Benders, one of my favorite new bands. They’re pretty mellow so it was a nice break in the day to lay in the shade of the sound tent, take in the wafting melodies and cat-nap.

Next up was Yeasayer, who I already saw this spring at the Filmore. Their show was a bit grander at the festival, though I definitely prefer the dark smallness of a club combined with their experimental beats.

We were all really stoked to check out Edward Sparpe and the Magnetic Zeros, whose insane musical frolicking was the greatest riot and most memorable show of the weekend. The stage, however, was PACKED and we could hardly get through to see anything.

While I’m fairly certain that Edward Sharpe was tripping, next up was The Flaming Lips, who have a show for people who are tripping. Seeing, back-to-back, the stark difference between the Edward Sharpe show, which was intensely disorganized, from the Flaming Lips show, which is a highly orchestrated and practiced performance, was fascinating.

The last show of the night, and of the festival, was indie critics’ favorite The National. While I really enjoyed their last album, the Boxer, I don’t listen to it so often that they are on my list of must sees. Their moody glam rock is a far cry from the poppy dance tunes I normally choose. That being said, their show was the stand out for me of the weekend. It slowly built to an unbelievably inspiring crescendo that left us all in awe.

Overall, the 9th Austin City Limits festival went off smoother and with less heat, mud and sweat than any previous. I was in heaven. 85 degrees, sunny, calm. The overwhelmingly large crowds on Friday were a bit much, but if that’s my biggest complaint, then I don’t have much to complain about. Sadly, they’ve moved the 2011 festival back to September so I can look forward to the possibility of 110 degree days once again.

If you have more time on your hands then you know what to do with, you can check out all the pictures.

Monday I was able to spend time with my friend Maya who just had a brand new baby (Cetta), eat at her husband Brett’s workplace, Uchiko, where I had the most amazing meal of my life (big eye tuna sashimi with fuji apples and goat cheese in a vinegar dressing of some sort), and spent the evening drinking beer with all my best Austin friends at the Crown and Anchor. Tuesday I was lucky enough to head out to Lake Travis for an afternoon of climbing with Greg. It was essentially all my favorite things to do in Austin crammed into two days with friends. Wonderful.

>ACL Fest 2010: Day 2

>Day 2 started out with no set agenda so we caught a bit of crooner Lissie and then followed it up with The Very Best, who are… interesting. Entertaining, certainly. But what I can gather from their outfit is that they take songs other people wrote, play a remixed version of it, and then sing either the actual lyrics in English or the actual lyrics in their language, or perhaps, since I don’t speak their language, completely different lyrics and people go crazy. Why? Because they made it out of Malawi and it makes the audience feel like they are participating in something globally beneficial? Not sure. But the crowd was going crazy and I was screaming, “I HATE Michael Jackson!”

Uh, just because he’s dead doesn’t mean I suddenly have to be a fan of his music. So hate me. I’m a hater.

We then cruised over to Bear in Heaven who were dreadfully boring.

So, earlier this year I was chatting online with hottie-ex-boyfriend-musician-Blake, which is pretty random because I rarely find him online and he doesn’t have a phone, or maybe he does and doesn’t tell people, and I can’t ever find him when I want to. Anyways, at this fateful, once-in-a-year event, he told me about this band who keep a studio or something in Brooklyn near him that I would just LOVE: Two Door Cinema Club. I immediately acquired the album and seriously fell in love with their wonderful dance sounds. Within a few months they had blown up in the internet music blogs and were being remixed all over the place. Then, it was announced they were playing ACL fest and I rejoiced.

Back to ACL fest Day 2 – it was time to go see Two Door Cinema Club and I was SO excited. I convinced all my friends who had never heard of these guys that they HAD to come see them and they followed me across the lawn, in the heat and sunshine, uphills and backwards, yadda yadda only to also fall in love with my new favorite love. Thanks Blake!

The crowds were pretty packed this year. More so than previous years, it seemed. Navigating in the mid afternoons became quickly overwhelming and after 2DCC made my day, none of those other bands on my list seemed to matter so much. I saw like 10 minutes of Broken Bells but the sound where we were standing was so awful we decided to just give up and head across the field to find Jamie and crew where they had camped out for the LCD Soundsystem and MUSE shows. I skipped both Local Natives and Matt & Kim, but mostly because Julie had secured us spots at an invite only after-party with both of those bands.

I’m super happy with my decision. Mostly because we had an awesome spot pretty close to the front and right by the sound booth for both shows. LCD Soundsystem is one of my most favorite bands of all time. I put them in the same leagues as Wilco and Dave Matthews Band for me: sounds and songs I never tire of; albums that continue to entertain me. The show was stupendous and despite being up front by the sound booth, we all had tons of room to dance around.

I was surprised to see on the ACL FB page this year that some ACL-newbie from another state had come and then complained about the flags at the festival. People in Austin for some reason started bring gigantic flags that would allow their friends to find them in the masses at stages. It’s awesome because even if you don’t have a flag, you can send out your coordinates based on other nearby flags. It’s fun to see people’s interpretations of things and their creativity. Some flags are the same every year: you recognize them from years past and know they are die-hard ACLers. I’ve been to both Coachella and Lollapalooza and was astounded that there were NO flags! How do people find each other?!? No wonder they are all so unhappy! Point being, our favorite flag this year was by far the bamboo tree flag. Bamboo tree flag ended up at many of the same shows as us – we apparently all have similar music tastes. When Bamboo tree flag’s owners were especially stoked, Bamboo tree flag would start jamming to the music and it was SO FUN. Bamboo tree flag, we love you. Dirk has a really great video of it, but I think it’s only on facebook and not on youtube. You probably wouldn’t love it as much as I do anyways and then I’d be sad.

After LCD we stayed put for what promised to be one of the better shows of the weekend: Muse. Muse played at ACL in 2007 and I had never really listened to them. Erik encouraged me to join him for the show, promising that I wouldn’t regret the decision. Holy smokes was I blown away. This year was no different. They are amazing performers and their shows overwhelm you in the best of ways.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFo8Dsyml3c&fs=1&hl=en_US]

Muse was the last show of the night and we were on a list for that after-party featuring Local Natives and Matt & Kim. Al bailed and I stuck around to meet my friends Julie and Jason there. It was at the American Legion Hall and had this really weird mix of people, most of whom just wanted to stand downstairs in the lawn, look cool and drink free alcohol and eat free pop chips (which, btw, taste a bit bizarre). We headed upstairs to the “concert” room, which was a long room with short ceilings and terrible acoustics. Matt & Kim were “DJing” in the corner on a laptop and every once in awhile would stand up in the windowsill and people would scream and take pictures. It was pretty much the worst DJ “set” I’ve ever heard and I really use both of those terms loosely. Mostly what they were doing is picking a new top 40 hit song from the last 15 years to press play on when the previous one ended. But, whatever, there was free Asahi Dark Beer.

THEN, all the sudden, who comes on stage to start setting up their instruments buy TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB. I freaked out. I left my bag in the back with Julie, pushed my way to the front and started jumping up and down screaming, “Do ANY of you even have any idea who these people are?!? GET OUT OF MY WAY!”

I danced, again, all over the place and jumped, again, all over the place, for the second time that day and loved every minute of it.

After new-favorite-band-played and made my night, Local Natives came on and they were okay. Sorry guys, you pale in comparison to electro-dance-pop.

After the show wrapped up, Julie, Jason and I walked over to Magnolia Cafe to get mag mud and whole wheat blueberry pancakes, my late night Austin favorite meal. You don’t think queso and pancakes go together? Oh my friend, you are wrong.

>ACL Fest 2010: Day 1

>With nothing but sunshine and moderate temperatures in the forecast for the first time ever in ACL Fest history, this year promised to be the best and it did not disappoint.

Friday morning kicked off early with white boy pop-influenced rapper Kyle Lucas of Vonnegutt, whose new single, “Follow Us“, is my favorite on Big Boi’s new album. I didn’t even realize that he was playing until late the night before and I’m thankful I did because he put on an awesome (although early) show.

Next up were southern bell crooners and party crashers, Those Darlins’ whose tunes are better heard in a smokey dive bar than a mid day festival, but entertaining none-the-less.

We met up with my fellow music hipster ACL BFF, Kez and headed over to see one of my more anticipated shows, Miike Snow.

Their dance heavy tunes livened up the surprisingly large crowd. A surprise guest appearance by the Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig was pretty awesome.

As the daylight started to dwindle, I feasted on a might cone, caught a bit of Beach House before jogging across the park to catch one of my most favorite bands, Vampire Weekend, a delightful display of what I like to call East Coast Prep Pop.

The day was almost over and it was time to run, as fast as I could, away from the hoards of jam banders there to see Phish (barf). The Strokes were playing on the other side of the field and I hoped to join Jamie and crew for the show. I’ve seen them a few times and while this wasn’t their best show by any means (coming on late and stopping early, come on guys), it was still an enjoyable set. I mean, a rock heavy light show is always entertaining with 30,000 people screaming along in excitement. How can you not have fun?

I was wiped. Al and I headed down the street for a margarita from standby Shady Grove and some food before we passed out, desperately needing to recharge for another day. Wahoo ACL fest!

>ACL Fest 2009: Sunday

>On Sunday morning I woke feeling refreshed and jazzed for the day ahead. I slept really well the night before and I was thrilled to be feeling so great. I rode a bike downtown and grabbed a huge breakfast of multigrain pancakes at Jo’s on 2nd. I couldn’t super excited to see the Dodo’s to play at 12:30 so I wanted to be down at the park in plenty of time. Since I was there early, I wandered over and checked out the Suckers, a really fun little hipster pop band from Brooklyn.

I left a few minutes early and headed over to the Livestrong stage for the Dodos. It was still early in the day and there were very few people there yet. While up close to the stages there were patches of grass showing from the day before, the main festival grounds were a swamp of mud and muck. My chacos were getting sucked into the soup with every step so I immediately gave up and just took them off. There weren’t a lot of people out and about yet so I was able to walk right up towards the front of the stage. It was only noon and already most of us were flecked with mud.

The Dodos are an awesome indie pop-rock band from San Fran. My friend Jason turned me onto them this summer and their two albums, “the Visitor” and “Time to Die” make me blissfully happy when I listen. The albums are extremely fun and the show was equally as playful.

After the Dodos, I checked out Rodriguez, an old school ancient rocker with a bizarre history of disappearing from the world of music. There was a lot of buzz around about him but I didn’t connect with the music, which was gruff. Instead I walked over to the other side of the park where a delightful little electro folk outfit, Here We Go Magic was playing. I trudged through the mud and sat on the side of the Zilker beach, where a young woman, clearly already wasted, proceeded to lay on her friends lap and puke on the ground. Embarrassed, she covered it up with her shoes. It was 1:00 PM. How do you arrive at that situation that early in the day? *shakes head in disbelief*

After that, the B-52s were playing and since I wasn’t really interested in them, I walked down to Austin Java to drink anything that was not Heineken and eat some lunch. An hour later, I headed back to check out British rockers the White Lies, who I put on a fantastic set. They were a surprise hit with me and I might even check out an album or two.

It was now 3:00 and the majority of the 65,000 people had entered the gates in preparation for the big names playing that afternoon. Although not a drop of rain had fallen that day, the grounds of the park had turned into a soupy mud pit. You couldn’t escape it. You couldn’t wear shoes in it. You just had to accept it.

The mud had this viscosity almost like meringue. As people walked it was whipped up into these stiff peaks on the outer edges of the stage where it would stay, puffed up with the imprint of your foot. As you walked it would squish through your toes like icing out of a piping bag. It felt disgusting and it smelled foul. But in the mud you played.

Up next was the British alternative rockers the Arctic Monkeys, whose first album “Whatever I say I am, that’s what I’m not” was a critics’ darling of an album. They just released a new album, “Humbug,” and are on tour to promote it. I hadn’t heard it yet but purchased it that weekend as the buzz was that it was a fantastic and well orchestrated follow up to their first. I enjoyed the show and was happy to see them, though I left a few minutes early to get a prime dancing location for Passion Pit, who I was really excited to see.

Passion Pit, the hipster blog buzz band of the year, released a wildly successful and entertaining electo pop record this year and word-of-mouth helped their popularity spread like wildfire. While the album is awesome, fun and danceable, it is clearly better in the studio because they are simply awful live. My friend Jason pointed out that the show at ACL fest was actually better than normal and that most of the time they sound like dying cats. They were my MGMT of the year: disappointment. On top of that, I was standing in inches of muck in front of the sound booth at that stage and the one strip of dry webbing that I’d been carrying my sandals around on a finger with had now disappeared. My shoes were getting sucked into the muck like Atreyu in the Swamps of Sadness. They couldn’t fight it!

Passion Pit sucked. So I left. I worked my way through the muck all the way across the park to the Livestrong stage. It was time for The Dead Weather who I was SO EXCITED about only all caps will suffice. The Dead Weather is Jack White’s new side project. I LOVE Jack White. I love the White Stripes. I LOVE the Raconteurs. The Dead Weather’s new album, “Horehound”, was dark, moody and dirty and I had been playing it daily since it’s release. I worked my way all the way up front and the show was AWESOME. Allison Mossheart, also from the Kills, is an amazing front woman when with Dead Weather. Her voice, stage presence and eyes are so expressive. She pulls you in, captivates you, and twists your emotions around. Takes you up, takes you down, seems to disrobe the audience with her gaze. It’s so bizarre because I think she’s just awful with the Kills. The one time I saw them (at Lollapalooza in 2008), I was not impressed. They had no presence and cut their set 30 minutes early because she wasn’t into the heat. The Dead Weather suits her much more and the show was one of the best I’d seen of anyone all weekend.

Of all the shows I saw this weekend, Dead Weather and Phoenix were my top two for sure. And to add to my excitement, on Tuesday at the airport I was standing around waiting of my flight and who would walk by me but the entire crew from Dead Weather. They exuded rock star cool. I totally geeked out but controlled myself and refrained from asking for a picture. No one had noticed them yet and they were cruising about with coffee, laughing and joking and I knew that once one person asked their anonymity would disappear. Sure enough, about ten minutes later the photo ops started and the band took the first opportunity they could to return to hiding in the upstairs Admiral’s Club lounge.

Also of note is that Michael Phelps was on my flight to Dallas. He is completely and totally lame. He was wearing a $200 cool guy t-shirt and sunglasses on the plane. He slouched down as far as he could go in his seat and was peering out at everyone, checking to see if they noticed him. L-A-M-E.

After The Dead Weather show I met up with Randy and we high-tailed it back across the park in the muck to see Girl Talk, who mashes together bits and pieces of popular songs to create the biggest dance party you’ve ever seen. The whole stage was filled with his fans and everyone was jumping up and down and singing along the entire time. It was super fun and I’m looking forward to a reprise next weekend at Treasure Island Music Fest.

I walked over to check out a bit of the headliner, Pearl Jam, a band who also needs no introduction. I was covered in mud, tired and dirty from the weekend and while I respect Pearl Jam, you certainly can’t label me as a fan. For all the music I listen to, I own not one Pearl Jam album. I hung out for a couple songs but knew that for the true experience I would have to worm my way through the peaks of mud to find a spot towards the front. Just thinking about it and what the journey would entail exhausted me. Instead I decided to take my fabulous weekend, end it on a high note with the Dead Weather and Girl Talk and take off. I rode my bike home, difficult considering the amount of mud caked on my legs and slimed on my shoes.

After a shower and some clean clothes I headed over to the Hyde Park Bar and Grill to fill up on some tuna, their infamous fries, and a glass of wine. It was a relaxing way to end an amazing weekend. Despite the mud, despite the heat, despite the crowds, despite the cancellations, Austin will always have a good time at ACL and I can’t wait for the next year!

>ACL Fest 2009: Saturday

>Saturday morning I woke up simply exhausted. It was going to be a long day. The 6 or so hours of sleep I had were not enough to replenish my stores from Danny Howells and I knew I would feel the effects that day. I rode down to the Barton Springs vicinity with Greg, whose house I was staying at. His friend Tom, who also went with us to Cuba last October, lives in the super sweet Pecan Grove RV Park on Barton Springs. Greg and Tom would go into the park early to set up a base camp under the tree near the BMI / Singer-songwriter stage, which, like the Gospel tent, is also always a good bet whenever you don’t have anyone in particular to see. I promptly headed over to Austin Java for some tasty breakfast quesadillas with turkey sausage and two extremely large coffees.

I started out my day with the Virgins, whose ridiculous eye make up and avant garde stage presence were not enough to keep my attention. I think I saw some of either Deer Tick or the Henry Clay People, or perhaps both, before that, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was like which means it wasn’t captivating enough. Sadly, the Raveonettes who I was very much looking forward to seeing (their 2008 album Lust Lust Lust was amazing) canceled at the last minute, citing visa problems, and were filled with local act Neon Indian. Neon Indian’s music reflected their age: young, immature and poorly imitative of other electro-pop outfits far more deserving of one’s ears.

By now the sky was beginning to cloud over and I was feeling very sluggish. I could hardly keep my eyes open and no one that morning had held my attention for longer than 20 minutes. I was extremely thankful that it was time for !!! (pronounced “chk-chk-chk”), a band whose last two albums are consistent staples in my music rotation. The Sacramento dance-punk band’s show and their frontman, Nic Offer, reflected their albums: profane, sweaty, intense and feverish.

As Nic climbed up and down the stage, running amok in the aisle towards the sound booth and climbing over the railings to jump up and down with his fans, the crowd was whipped into a frenzy. As the skies opened up above us and the rain began to fall, the small dance party became more voracious: insatiable in their desire for the music and for it to continue.

So far, !!! had been the highlight of my day. The brief rainstorm and the fanatic crowd had briefly reinvigorated me but the effects were short lasting as Grizzly Bear, who I adore but should not be a festival mid-day slot filler, literally put me back to sleep. As I napped with my head slumping into my lap, it began to rain. And rain. And rain. Not super interested in Celtic punk band Flogging Molly, Citizen Cope, or folky Bon Iver, Jason and I sought coffee, beer and refuge from the deluge outside in Shady Grove. The coffee did little to revive me. I was unbelievably exhausted. The 6:00 hour of my day left a four way dilemma on hands: the Decemberists, STS9, the Scabs or Devotchka? With such a difficult choice I did the only thing any normal person would do: I went and took a nap. I spread my blanket out on the sand in the Zilker Beach, under a large canopy, blissfully protected from the rain. I slept for a good solid hour and woke, rejuvenated and ready to go.

It was time for one of the shows that I most anticipated for the weekend: Ghostland Observatory. Ghostland Observatory is a electronic dance band from Austin made up of two guys with incredible stage presence, their show rounded out with smoke and lasers (always a winner!). They were up against Dave Matthews Band that night, a band that needs no introduction. But while Dave is one of my favorite bands of all time, he couldn’t compete with the spectacle that is Ghostland Observatory. And, really, no lasers? Pffffft.

When you stand at the front of a crowd of 30,000 people who all know the lyrics to their hometown bands songs, the energy is electric. I was alone for the show, surrounded by groups of people singing and hugging their friends, all of us jumping up and down in the mud and the rain as we each recognized our favorite songs from the first note played.

As GLO began “The Band Marches On,” the stage, previously illuminated with lasers of every kind, suddenly went dark. The haunting and drawn out opening sections were shrouded in mystery. I was close enough to see as the lasers once again began to peer out into the crowd that the University of Texas Marching Band, the entire band, had begun to fill the stage. As the song progressed and they began to add to the music, the crowd began to realize there was more than just two people contributing. As the song hit it’s crescendo, the lights came on full force and there on the stage were 100? 120? marching band members in their burnt orange regalia, playing their hearts out. Austin when crazy.

After their encore, I ran through the park, which under the weight of 65,000 people and the afternoon rains, had begun to deteriorate. I sloshed my way up to the mid pack of the big stage to catch the last thirty minutes of Dave Matthews Band. While I wish I could have been both places at once, I was happy to have seen Ghostland, especially in conjunction with the UT marching band, and a bit of Dave. I love DMB because no matter how many times you see them, you never see the same show twice.

I was tired and muddy, dirty and damp but in a town where there is always music to see and on a weekend when your goal is to see as much of it as possible, there is no going home. So onward I trucked, walking the mile or two down to Threadgills, not for their delicious Southern home cooking, but to catch The Gourds in their outside music venue with Matt. The Gourds, a Southern Rock-Bluegrass outfit, are best known for their cover of Snoop Dog’s “Gin and Juice.”

When the show ended at 12:30 it was time for bed. I caught a cab and went back to the house, where I desperately needed a shower. I felt bad even entering my little guest house with my feet in such a state, much less allowing them to touch the sheets.

>ACL Fest 2009: Friday

>Oh, the promise of a new day.

Oh, my aching head.

After a large breakfast of migas and coffee at Austin Java with my friend Julie, I walked down to the park bright and early to catch School of the Seven Bells, a three piece band with two hot identical twins that I’d read some good buzz on. The buzz was correct and they were a great start to a gorgeous day. Despite my hangover, the world was pretty darn perfect: for the first time in 8 years, it was not 100 degrees. There was luscious amazing green grass beneath our toes, so green and soft it seemed to be daring us to strip and roll around in it. The sun was out, the sky was blue and cute girls were playing some really enjoyable dreamy electro-pop stuff.

Just look at that field of green:

Since I had arrived a bit early, I was fortunate to catch a bit of the Sound and the Jury winner set, The Bright Light Social Hour, a promising young band that took advantage of their luck to show the few who were there that early in the weekend why they were deserving of our attention. They were clearly grateful for the opportunity and I’m sure that this won’t be the last that the indie-music-blog-world hears of them.

After School of the Seven Bells, I had a few hours where I wasn’t planning on seeing anyone in particular so Jason and I cruised over to see Blitzen Trapper, a hipster indie folk band hailing from Portland, OR. They aren’t really my sort of thing but it was enjoyable for a few moments. Next was the Avett Brothers, a folk rock band from North Carolina, who were deserving of all the talk I’d heard about how awesome they were. While I really wanted to go check out the The Walkman, my hangover was causing me to fade and shockingly, for the first time ever, there was no coffee being sold in the food court and the band I was most looking forward to seeing this whole weekend was coming up next: Phoenix. Now, I had discovered Phoenix on a fateful ACL day in 2006. They were hardly known then, playing a small stage in the morning and I happened upon them in an hour when I had no one in particular I was interested in seeing. I was hooked. Thus, it was imperative that I be in dancing form and desperately needed coffee to do so. The Walkmen lost and I ran down the street to Austin Java for a iced coffee with a shot of espresso. The situation was dire.

I am extremely glad I did because Phoenix was amazing. Their new album, Listomania, is an energetic, infectious critic’s darling of an album and I love every word of it. It seemed as if all of ACL had turned up to see them and their frontman, Thomas Mars, couldn’t stop expressing his surprise that so many people had come to watch and their immense gratitude. Their humble thanks clearly won Austin over. My weekend was already complete.

We jetted across the field really quick to catch some of Thievery Corporation but frankly, I’m over them. I’ve seen them so many times and the show is always the same so we left early to get prime spots at the front of the gospel tent for Los Amigos Invisibles. Los Amigos Invisibles, a wild rollicking band from Venezuela, is not to be missed if they are in your town. Jason, who had never been to a show and had no idea what he was in for, was shocked to find that as soon as they came on stage the entire tent, now packed with people, was screaming, jumping up and down and yelling wildly. “I think there are panties dropping all over this tent!” he screamed. Los Amigos shows are an experience that can not really be explained. They are sweaty, wild, boisterous dance parties. They are awesome.

While there is a lot of buzz surrounding the new super group, Them Crooked Vultures, made up of Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Josh Homme (QOtSA), and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), they were unfortunately playing the same time slot as Los Amigos, who I knew would not disappoint. I heard word after that the super group isn’t so super yet so I’m happy with my decision.

After Los Amigos we decided to skip Yeah Yeah Yeahs and check out Kings of Leon. I was a bit torn because I love Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but as it was the end of the day, you get a little bit lazy in your decisions when they involve leaving the group and walking across large expanses of parkland. Things take so much more effort at night at ACL. While I love the new Kings of Leon album (one of the best of last year for sure), I wasn’t expecting too much from the show and my expectations were right on target. Caleb Fallowill’s vocals are raspy and oddly captivating. I find his voice to be intensely rapturous but while sexy and thrilling, the band brings nothing to the table in their live show that is an improvement on their album. They do nothing different and in fact, the music isn’t as tight or crisp as it is in the studio. Besides, they’re Sooners. Boo.

After the end of the show, I walked downtown to catch the Bob Schneider cd release party at Antone’s with Michelle. If you don’t click on any of the links for the bands on this page, you should click this one because Bob’s site is always entertaining. Dude is funny. Fact. And oddly enough, while standing in line I met a guy who works for Bob and his job is to do the upkeep on the website. I expressed my love of it. Bob’s new cd (Lonely Creatures), while no Lonelyland, is excellent and has quite a few tracks that are sure to become fan favorites.

After that I went home to sleep off my hangover.

>ACL Fest 2009: The Pre Party

>Thursday night I went out with a large group of old friends to see Danny Howells. Oddly enough [insert sarcasm here] we don’t ever get amazing DJs like Danny Howells in South Lake Tahoe so I was pretty jazzed in anticipation of the night.

We started out at La Condesa, an amazing new Mexican restaurant in the new 2nd street district of Austin. It’s built into the side of a parking garage, which sounds boring, but what they’ve done with it is amazing. The outdoor patios really blend into the urban scape and the split levels on the interior, mixing bars with dining, stairs and wood with concrete, were extremely unique and gave the place a very distinct character. I was going to order the tacos and while I was tempted to try the Oaxaca cricket tacos simply because they sounded wild, our server recommended that the Hongos Y Huitlacoche, a half pizza crust – half tortilla like creation topped with wild mushrooms, huitlacoche (a Mexican corn truffle), queso chihuahua, epazote (a common pungent Mexican spice), and truffle oil was not to be missed and he was correct. What I contribute to the downfall of my next-day-hangover are their amazing drinks: a $12 margarita La Condesa made with hornitos, damiana, pineapple juice, agave nectar, lime juice and cactus salt. They were unbelievable.

After dinner we headed over to a new bar off the side of La Zona Rosa called the Backstage Bar where a friend of ours was bartending. It’s a neat interior space with free pool, checkers, large flat screens, and comfy booths.

Danny Howells was downtown at the Phoenix, which took over the space of Pangea, which is located in the Old Alamo Drafthouse building. It’s a bizarre club, awash with red velvet walls and paintings of scenes from the bible. Cliche and unnerving. The music, however, was awesome and I danced and danced and danced and danced.

So at some point in the evening this guy walks up and hands me a sheet of paper with directions to an after party on it. When the show shut down at 2 am, we are all standing around trying to decided what to do and Christian and I, who are always the adventurous types, thought we should go. Why not? Who does that? We’ve never been handed directions to a party before and gone! We should go! Let’s do it! We’ve been drinking, this sounds like a great idea!

So we go.

It’s in the third or fourth floor of this old historic house near Austin Community College and it’s a law office or something. This guy is holding an after party, which he invited random strangers to, in his office. Which is a historic old house. Bizarre.

There wasn’t really much beer, and when I pointed that out, he told me the we were really the only ones he invited because I looked like I was having so much fun dancing. Random.

So here we are, in a strange law office, drinking more at 3 am when I come to the realization that this is a horribly terribly bad idea. I know this is a bad idea because at some point in the evening I no longer cared about water and all I wanted was more beer. This means that things are going to be not-so-awesome in the morning. Smartly recognizing this despite my drunkenness, I decide to call a cab. I called every cab company in Austin hoping to create a cab racing frenzy to my location and promptly abandoned the other half of my Blue Moon. I Houdinied. It was a bright decision but unfortunately it was not enough to save me because I woke up four hours later with a raging headache. And so began ACL Fest 2009.