Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Austin City Limits Festival 2006

I've been late in posting because I was sick during and right after ACL. Note to self: if you don't sleep enough, you always get sick. Right. Moving on.

I skipped Friday in an attempt to generic Nyquil myself to sleep and therefore wellness. I slept about 17 hours on and off from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon. It kinda of worked. No more fever, but still with the chest congestion and general malaise. Wait, wasn't I going to move on from the sick talk?


I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness
I like you but you are less-than-compelling today and as a local band I can see you within the next month and there's a big crowd over by the Heineken stage so I've chosen Ghostland Observatory.

Ghostland Observatory
Energy! Charisma!
Local band that I have been extrememly remiss in not seeing. Wow. A guy twiddling knobs and playing keyboards (in a floor-length cape mind you), while another guy cavorts about singing in a brash falsetto. Sure, I like that kind of thing, but these guys were pulling people in from all over the place. I'll chalk it up to things sorely lacking from some ACL acts (I'm looking at you Iron & Wine), to whit energy and charisma. Keyboard guy just stood there, but managed to still get across a sense of competence and "Whee! This is fun!". I'm sure the cape helped. Singer dude was a firecracker. Dancin' and singin' and jumpin' and worked it like nobody else I saw all weekend. Bravo Ghostland Observatory, I'll see you again as soon as possible.

The Secret Machines

TV on the Radio
Bad sound mix and I wanted to see The Shins more so...

The Shins
Marty of The Shins
Generally good. Since touring after their first record, The Shins have become a more muscular, tight band. Unfortunately, they've also smoothed out some of the odd angles that made me love them. Sure Marty (keyboards/guitar) is still hilarious and the songs are punchier, but my brain doesn't melt with joy over them anymore. Maybe's it's my problem. Hard to say. Still, good show, looking forward to their new album out in January. Oh, they asked people to video record them on cameras and cell phones during one song for a video they were making. 1st problem: most people don't have enough room on their devices for an almost four minute song. 2nd problem: the upload site sucked and couldn't handle my large file.

Reliably great, but I was less enthused than during previous shows. Maybe being sick? No, I took that into account when evaluating performances. Well, when you seen a band like 12 times in five years every show can't be fantastic. Surprisingly, they didn't play anything from the EP they did in collaboration with Iron & Wine.

The Raconteurs
Just heard them from across the way. Unremarkable. "Steady As She Goes" was great, but nothing else made an impression as I read about various anemias (yes I studied during the festival, nursing school doesn't stop for culture breaks).

Iron & Wine
A windswept Sam AKA Iron & Wine
Snore. Wanted to like it, but couldn't.

Explosions in the Sky
So great to lie back on the grass as darkness descended and have this band take me away. Lovely. I really should go see them more often.

Massive Attack
Massive Attack
Daddy G (original member) was off with his wife and brand-new baby so it was up to 3D (original member), the vocalists, and the backing brand to bring it. And they did. And it was so very good. Despite being a band based in DJing and samples, the live version went far above standing on stage and pushing a button every now and then while the light show does all the work. Granted, the light show was fantastic, but the band (two drummers!) was bombastic and coiled and sinuous and noisy. Seriously y'all, I was in heaven even though I think my fever had returned. While it was great that long-time vocalist Horace Andy was there, it blew my mind that Elizabeth Fraser (ex-Cocteau Twins) was there to sing as well. "Teardrop" was gorgeous. Never thought I'd ever hear her do that song live. Anyway, best band of the festival by far.


José González
José González
I don't think an outdoor festival is the best venue for José. The crowd was respectful, but a solo acoustic guitar-playing singer just doesn't work in the middle of a humid day with thousands of people milling around or rocking out to other, louder bands not too far away. Not nearly as good as when I saw him at SXSW 2006, but still decent. Did an interesting cover of Massive Attack's "Teardrop". Did not do his cover of Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy", maybe when he comes back later then Fall. Why do I like this acoustic-guitar singer/songwriter when so many others bore me? To (mis)quote comedian Zak Galifianakis, "The way you play music makes me feel good inside."

Practically a parody of themselves now. Have gone over to the dark side, by which I mean that they've become a jam band. Wanky guitar work all over the place. I walked up when they'd started "Spinal Meningitis" (yay!) and walked away at minute two of the wank solo (boo).

White Ghost Shivers
White Ghost Shivers
They were probably a new band for a lot of the crowd, hence the almost immediate aggregation of more and more audience and the big smiles. They are very good at showmanship. Look at the outfits and the instruments, you know where there at musically. Naughtier than you might expect though.

New Pornographers
New Pornographers
Reliably great. Why isn't this band huge? Big hooks, great singing, what else do you need? I guess Neko isn't dressed sluttily enough. Snerk. I was bouncing around throughout. "Laws Have Changed" makes my endorphins skyrocket. Also, Neko is funny.
Soon after taking the stage, “I can’t peform in these freezing conditions. Stage manager, fetch me my parka.” Later she acknowledged Ween playing across the way and quoted some song that expressed the sentiment "I'd give a blowjob for a joint," which she quickly followed with, “Not really. Well, you’d have to catch me in the right mood.” Hee.

Flaming Lips
Packed audience, they really should have been a headliner. Their theatrics still worked in the daylight though. Streamers everywhere, confetti blowers, dancing girl aliens, dancing Santas (girls & boys), superheroes (or if you prefer, underwear perverts), Wayne in a giant hamster ball rolling around on top of the crowd; it was a show. They really have their visuals honed, I wish they’d play more songs though. As much as the crowd really enjoyed it, I can't help but do that annoying "you should have seen them back in the day." They still play "She Don't Use Jelly," but I miss "Halloween", "You Can’t Stop the Spring", "Bad Day". I tell you, it was incredible to see them in 1994 wrapped in Christmas lights at Liberty Lunch. Still, it's great that they're popular now and so many more people know and love them.

I generally like the BoDeans, but I'm in love with "Fadeaway". It's definitely a loop song for me, I'll listen to it for 20 minutes at a time. While waiting for Tom Petty, I wandered over figuring they'd play it at some point. They did and I got all gooey with joy. Sure it was waaay too long with multiple solos, but I love it so. After some song, they broke into The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated". Nice.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Knowing that I had to be up for clinical at 5:45 the next morning, I told myself I could only stay for three songs of Tom Petty. I walked out the gate while the third dong was fading away. Good thing too, because it started to rain just before I got on the shuttle bus. Apparently the band stopped playing after the fourth song.

Generally a good year. Not as good as last year or The Pixies year or the REM year, but Massive Attack bumped it up for me.

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