Austin City Limits Roundup

We had so much fantastic coverage of the annual Austin City Limits festival that we couldn’t fit it all in the magazine. Here is another great round-up of the greatest fest in the greatest live music city in the world, covered by Performer’s own Tara Lacey.

[Austin, TX] In Austin, we stake our reputation on our live music and each year there is a myriad of festivals to satisfy a plethora of discerning musical palates. The crowning jewel of them all is Austin City Limits. This year’s fall music festival converged on Zilker Park October 7-9 but has been moved to a more customary September 16-18 for 2011.

The first thing I did this year was chat with Ray Benson, of Texas-swing band Asleep at the Wheel, about their customary festival opening set and his forty-year history of making music in Austin. He recalled how Austin has nurtured his career in music and relayed the advantages Austin’s vibe has others wishing to pursue the same path. Another Austin based band, T-Bird and the Breaks, shared the bill this year. Lead singer Tim Crane openly shared the same sentiment–he traveled the country before settling on Austin as home for his soul-crooning, funky, fresh, brassy, R&B sound.

From Asleep at the Wheel to T-Bird and everything in between–Austin City Limits Festival has got it down. Their lineup this year catered to the indie rock elitist, the MTV generation, old hippies, and young scenesters alike. It’s a melting pot of music appreciation in a city where music is life. The sun was shining and the weather was mild and forgiving, which meant the crowd never waned at any point during the weekend. Approximately 65,000 spectators enjoyed perfect conditions all weekend long on a lush, fully restored, carpet-like grassy lawn.

Friday’s highlights were found in the happy dream-pop duo Beach House, which was beautifully articulated to the crowd at the Honda Stage by Victoria Legrand’s versatility on organ. Beach House was like a perfect 80’s pop album playing on low speed–just tripped out enough that you need to keep it spinning.

There was a palpable culture clash on Friday night with the hip and in demand band The Strokes playing directly across the festival from the legendary jam band Phish. Though both headlining bands had an impressive crowd Friday’s draw, among press, patrons, and artists alike, was The Black Keys. The set itself was a little less enjoyable due to the size of the crowd and it’s impassable nature, coupled with some wonky acoustics from where I stood.

On Saturday, I caught up with Matt Frazier from Local Natives. They have since headed “down under” to continue on their voracious tour schedule–a little studio time waiting for them at the ‘end of the rainbow’. Be on the lookout for some new Local Natives tracks by this time next year.

Saturday presented a stellar showing of talent featuring Beats Antique, Local Natives, Broken Bells, The Temper Trap and The XX. Oliver Sim of The XX admitted to Performer that he is a bit nervous about making The XX’s follow up album since the first was written under the pretense that only fellow band mates Romy Madley Croft and Jamie Smith would hear it. He was very humble and gracious for such a sensational indie rock star.

Following MTV’s Video Music Awards, many festival goers of all ages were hip to Deadmau5 and many nabbed tickets to his official “after show” at Austin Music Hall too. It was apparent that he was Saturday’s biggest draw. He was buzzed about around the festival grounds and makeshift mau5heads were bouncing among the crowd.

Somehow it always seems that Sunday is the most fun day. Perhaps it’s because I started ACL Sunday off with Elijah Jones of The Constellations. He got straight down to brass tacks with a Maker’s Mark and a Marlboro in hand at 11 AM when I met him at the media grove to talk music. He told Performer that the name of his band didn’t come from a love of star-gazing but instead from the lyrics of one of their first songs, one you won’t hear on Southern Gothic.

After chatting it up with Elijah I got to see him exude that bad boy, rockstar rep he had created for me backstage as he swilled a beer on stage and performed a raucous show. He flawlessly transcends genres lacing pop, rock, and psychedelic-soul sounds with a touch of funk. It was especially impressive at noon-something on a bright Sunday while he admittedly nursed a mean hangover offstage. The Constellations were arguably my favorite band of the entire festival.

My other favorite was the exact opposite–roots reggae band Rebelution who grooved it easy into the sunset as Austin City Limits Festival took me ‘to the limit, one more time.’ For me ACL 2010 was history a bit before The Eagles’ closing set was over.

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