>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!