Sunday, September 25, 2005

Austin City Limits Festival 2005

Austin City Limits sign

Austin City Limits Festival was just okay this year.


Kasabian were boring. dios (malos) were a welcome surprise. Clearly I need to see them again soon. Mates of State were good, but poor Kori was already bright red. Get that woman some sunscreen please. What I like about them is that their vocals are slightly off-key, but it works. Like Exene and Jon from X. Sound Team was a disappointment. They'd been signed by a major and had spent a lot of time holed up working on songs, but the music and performance was just blah.

Upon the advice of a friend, I watched a bit of Thievery Corporation, but to me it sounded like sex music for a couple who just bought a copy of The Kama Sutra, so I left.

Spoon was pretty good. Having gone to college with them, I've been a fan for years and seen them more times than I ever will another band. It's got to be north of 50 times, so they have to really kick-ass for me to be impressed. The ACL set was good, but not great. A rushed "I Turn My Camera On" lost its power. "Paper Tiger" was, as usual, an expanded version with washes of roaring guitar. Love it.

In a moment of synchronicity while I was writing some of this post, the new TV show "Kitchen Confidential" used the Spoon song "Stay Don't Go" in its second episode.

John Prine's voice is shot, but he's still a compelling performer speaking truth to power. Introducing ""Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore", he said, "I retired this song in 1978. Well George Bush made a liar out of me."

After a few more Prine songs, I hustled out of there to get to The Arcade Fire show at Stubb's.

I started a photo set of interesting "Here I am!" flags that people bring so their friends can find them.

Flying Spaghetti Monster & Jolly Roger flags

I particularly loved this Flying Spaghetti Monster flag.
More pics here.


Woke up late and missed some of the morning bands. I got there in time to see Mike Doughty.

Mike Doughty

He's touring with a full band now, and even though I wished for him to do just that, it was a bit dull. No "Janine" to end the set either. He did do "St. Louise is Listening" which might be my favorite Soul Coughing song.

Built to Spill kinda sucked. When they aren't into a show, their energy and performance reflect it. I've seen them kick-ass and I've seen them suuuuck. This show was closer to the latter.

Death Cab was better than I expected, competent and energetic. Still, I've never been a fan, though their current single "Soul Meets Body" is currently holding me in thrall. From the size of the crowd, either The OC has plenty of influence on musical taste or Oasis fans are willing to wait four hours (through Jet too!) in the hot sun.

Eleanor of The Fiery Furnaces

The Fiery Furnaces were great in that they confused the audience. Clearly, many people were just waiting for Bloc Party. FF threw them for a loop. I don't think I'll be buying any FF albums soon, but I did enjoy the show and got some great pictures.

I wandered around and ate after that, watched Bloc Party for a couple songs, then headed out to the Built to Spill/Decemberists show at La Zona Rosa.


The day that saved the festival from mediocrity. If not for this day, I would have been disappointed.

My roommate didn't want to go and so gave me her intact wristband, which I gifted to friend Amy. I'm so glad friend Amy was able to go see her two favorite bands.

Anthony Gonzales aka M83

We got to Zilker Park a little late, but saw the whole M83 set. Damn they are amazing. Loud, bombastic, beautiful songs. Wish I could have seen their Friday show at Emo's. Anthony Gonzales writes great music and is very cute.

From a distance, Doves were blah. Amy and I worked our way towards the front as they played that one song which is pretty cool. Can't be bothered to look it up now. We just wanted Arcade Fire.

The Arcade Fire

Despite having just seen them on Friday, Amy and I needed to experience the majesty again. Whoo-boy did they deliver. Despite the heat, they dressed up and played some of the songs even better than Friday. "Haiti" was incredible. Very excited crowd, very awesome band.

Amy went off to see The Decemberists and I went to Bob Mould. Bob was cool, but I knew that I'd enjoy another helping of The Decemberists more so I hiked over to their stage. I got there in time to hear Colin Meloy launch into one of his now-standard bits.
“Yesterday I was hanging out with Ben Gibbard [Death Cab for Cutie and I asked him, ‘Ben, how do you write songs of such pathos?’

And he said to me, ‘It comes from my upbringing.’

‘How’s that?' I said. And he picked up his guitar and sang me this song.”
The band then launched into a rousing, extended version of “Chimbley Sweep” complete with the shushed breakdown where Colin got most of the crowd up front to crouch down quietly (the one holdout got a drink thrown at him by a fan). It was going to be a hard song to top, but they did with "The Mariner's Revenge Song" complete the requisite whale attack. Sure it's old hat to fans who've seen them before, but the crowd, including many non-devotees, ate it up.

After a Wilco song and half of Franz Ferdinand one, Amy and I headed out. Despite the awful heat and dusty air, it was all worth it.

Many more photos here, including way too many Arcade Fire pics. I love them so.

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  1. I looked for you at the Arcade Fire show and judging from the angle of these, you were on the same side I was! Perhaps you 12x zoom makes it seem like you were near me.

  2. Hey, an atheist went to ACL. heh.

  3. I was near you Dan. I had a better view, but you did not have screechy girls behind you. So it evens out.

    Colleen, I don't get it. Is that me? Or the guy with the FSM flag?

  4. Your Fiery Furnaces pictures are great -- and I'd give these guys another chance if you weren't blown away by their live show. I find their albums to be just entrancing. Plus they have a new one coming out next month that they recorded with their 80 year old Greek grandmother, so that's got to be cool.

  5. Thanks Kristy. Good light + no tall people in front of me + peformer standing still = good focus.

    Since Eleanor is an exp-Austinite, I kinda have to give her multiple chances to impress.