Austin City Limits
Our annual pilgrimage to Austin, Texas brought us to our 2nd Annual Austin City Limits Festival this past weekend. Leaving Denver on Friday morning with snow at my doorstep, I couldn't be more excited to make it to the warmer climate down south in Austin. The forecast for the weekend was perfect. This year the lineup included some of my favorite bands that shaped the way I listened to music. It was bands during my high school days such as The Cure and Depeche Mode that would often find their way to my abundance of mix tapes I would often play. While the musical landscape has gone through many phases since, Austin City Limits thrives on the diversity of their lineups each and every year. From indie to hip hop to country and folk, ACL caters to all lovers of music. The festival itself was beautifully organized with accessible restrooms, free water filling stations, wi-fi access throughout the park and on time scheduled performances. With the Austin cityscape as its background, the setting couldn't be more perfect!
Day One | Friday | October 4th
I arrived just in time to catch the tail end of Jimmy Eat World, we covered them last time they were in a Denver and got to the festival just in time for the tail end of their set. The day also played host for awesome performances from Local Natives, Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys and fun. One of the highlights of the day was the performance from Wild Belle who captivated the late afternoon audience. With the sun setting on a warm first day the evening gave way to the electronic sounds of Kaskade who had the Honda stage raging, one of the few EDM artist on the bill, he managed to create an all out dance party as the evening gave way to some heavy hitters. Josh Homme and Queens of The Stone Age pulled of a raucous performance as the evening set in, fresh off a ACL Live taping the night before, QOTSA impressed just as they did here at Red Rocks a few months ago.
One of the big disadvantages of any music festivals is the conflicting time slots of certain artist you want to see Such was the case for Friday headliners Muse and Depeche Mode. I had never seen DM and while they played an integral part of my musical upbringing, I marked them down on my schedule once it was first released. Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher have been giving us a dose of electro-synth pop since the early eighties, easily establishing themselves as true pioneers of a music generation that has become a huge influence on many artist today. They cranked out hits such as “Personal Jesus”, Enjoy The Silence”, and “Policy of Truth” along with newer hits like “Welcome To My World”.
Purity Ring, Wild Belle, Arctic Monkeys, Depeche Mode, QOTSA and Kaskade.
Fad of the Day:
Flags on Flags on Flags, American festivals are starting to rival those European festivals with the amount of flags we see nowadays.
Day Two | Saturday | October 5th
Our second day found us taking our spot at the AMD stage for Portugal. The Man, who wasted no time in kicking things off with their hit “Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue”, off of the album Evil Friends. The remainder of their set included hits such as “Modern Jesus”, “So American”, and “The Sun”. They will be stopping in our fair city next week on October 18th, we highly suggest you attend. As the weather continued to become sweltering we managed to trek our way across to catch Passion Pit and The Joy Formidable, who put on some amazing mid-day sets. As the temperature began to drop it was time to setup shop for hip-hop reigning heavyweight and premier trash talker Mr. Kendrick Lamar. We had a chance to see Kendrick at SXSW and he has continued to become one of the genres most controversial and talked about emcees. With an album that made many “best of” including mine, its no wonder that the majority of the 75,000 in attendance made their way to catch a glimpse of one of the games best. The night gave way to what we call in Colorado hoodie weather and in Austin “frigid” conditions. Not that it mattered for long as The Cure took the stage and took me back to the days of broken hearts and a time were Robert Smith was all that mattered. As important as Depeche Mode was to me, The Cure played an equal part of my musical journey. Considered as early pioneers of the goth-post punk wave of the early eighties, it was albums like Disintegration and Wish that often made their way to my tape player. While age had definitely taken its toll on the band, they sound just as they did back in the day. Listening to songs such as “Pictures of You”, and “Friday I’m In Love” created the ultimate nostalgic euphoria I had imagined perfectly.
Portugal. The Man, Silversun Pickups, Grimes, Passion Pit, Kendrick Lamar and The Cure.
Fad of the Day:
Craft Beers. With the inclusion of the new craft tent, it was easy for patrons to enjoy their favorite beers from across the country. Special shout-out to our own Breckenridge Brewery who managed to quench our thirst on a couple occasions.
Day Three | Sunday | October 6th
The last day of any festival is truly a battle for the strong minded. With a few festivals under our belt, we are used to the grueling conditions. We arrived just in time to catch Franz Ferdinand (who coincidentally we saw at our first ACL in 2005). One of our favorite groups that managed to make our “must-see” were Divine Fits, who played to a rather sparse crowd. As they finished wrapping up their set Toro y Moi was entertaining the smaller Bud Light stage with a rather strong performance. The evenings bands were probably the best of the three day weekend, with The National, Tame Impala, and Phoenix each holding their own with captivating sets. I must go on the record on saying that I am probably one of the biggest Radiohead fans in the world. When it was announced that the Thom Yorke led side-project of Atoms For Peace was headlining, i booked my trip to Austin within seconds. The supergroup led by Yorke and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Goodrich on keys and synths, Joey Waronker of R.E.M on drums and Mauro Refosco on percussion. The supergroup started in LA and has released a studio album titled Amok. The band managed to play almost two hours of afro-beat inspired music and having the opportunity to witness Yorke and Flea on the same stage jamming together was something I will never forget. In fact it was probably the highlight of our weekend.
Foxygen, MS MR, Divine Fits, White Denim, The National, Toro y Moi, Tame Impala, and Atoms For Peace.
Fad of The Day:
Texas A&M apparel, looks like Johnny Football has made a splash amongst college football fans in the city of Austin, which is a victory itself considering the whole town bleeds burnt orange.
Austin City Limits by the numbers:
Miles walked: 18.7
Red Bulls consumed: 7
Kind Bars consumed: 6
Overpriced beers purchased: 3
Festival T-shirt: 1
Colorado flags seen: 2
Breakfast tacos destroyed: 4
Free cocktails in the media tent: 8
Pedicabs taken: 2
Sweet Tea Leaf bottles drank: 11
Deep Eddy Vodka drinks: 5 (in one hour)
Amount of times phone battery died: 3