Friday, December 04, 2009

2009 Austin City Limits Festival

If you have been reading my blog or if you have met me at all you know that when it comes to multiple day music festivals, I just can’t do it. I mean I can do it, but I’d rather not. And if I do go, I need to limit my time to one day, not all 3 or 4. Or have a VIP pass. VIP makes it bearable. I have been to Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, and Vegoose thus far. I’d be fine with that. However, when my sister (Kathy) and brother-in-law (Brian) moved to Austin a few years ago, she kept asking, “When are you going to come for the Austin City Limits Festival?” And after years of saying, “Uhhh…next year” it was time. The good thing is that I would get some quality time with my family, my brother Michael also came in from LA, and see some music. Two things I love.

Day 1
We got to Zilker Park around 2:30pm. We looked at the merchandise (not impressed) and then headed over to the AMD stage to see The Avett Brothers. I was looking forward to seeing them live and they played many songs off their new album, I and Love and You. Afterwards we walked over to the Dell stage to see Dr. Dog. They were just as much fun as when I saw them at Double Door. We then headed back to the AMD stage to see Phoenix. While we were waiting we could hear The Walkmen at the nearby stage. I like Phoenix just fine, but like several other bands in my life I am losing them to d-bags. It was cool seeing them though, because this was the largest crowd they have ever played and you could tell they were genuinely happy about it, and played it up even more. After a quick food break, Michael and I went to the Austin Ventures stage to see Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3. One fun surprise was seeing Peter Buck (of REM) playing with him. We then headed over to the AMD stage to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (YYYs). We got there a bit on the early side to get a good spot, which meant we missed Them Crooked Vultures, but at least we could hear them since they were on the next stage over. The YYYs are one of my favorite bands and put out a solid album this year, It’s Blitz! They were the last act of the night playing up against Kings of Leon (KoL). We heard a song or two of theirs as we were leaving the park. Turns out Eddie Vedder came out for a song with the band. I asked, “What did he do? He doesn’t play any instruments. Did he just stand there?” And it turns out he did (confirmed by my sister’s friend). Well he did play a tambourine or something. In any case I was not sad to miss KoL. The d-bags have taken them away. I will just hold on to the memories I have had of them. And plus, the dance party at YYY rocked. No need to be sad.

Day 2
Saturday we got to the park kinda later than we expected. We slept in. We arrived just as Mute Math was starting at the Livestrong stage. Michael and I stuck around for a few songs, but I wanted to head over to the Dell stage to secure a good spot for Grizzly Bear. Even though I had seen them literally 5 days before and had no intentions on seeing them again, I had become a super fan and HAD to see them again. They did not disappoint and they played a few songs I didn’t hear at the Metro, including “Little Brother (Electric).” Also during this set the drizzle had turned to rain and didn’t stop except for 30 minutes here and there the rest of the day. After Grizzly Bear we headed over to Flogging Molly for a few songs and then to …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. After about 4 songs Michael asked if we could go get a good spot for The Levon Helm Band. So we headed over to the opposite end of the park. As we were passing the Dell stage, I got to hear Bon Iver play “Blood Bank” one of my all time favorite songs. Sigh. The Levon Helm Band was great and they played some songs by The Band, some covers, and then original stuff. Unfortunately, Levon didn’t sing due to doctor’s orders. In 1998, Levon was diagnosed with throat cancer. However, it was good to see him smiling and drumming away. We then headed over to the Wildflower Center (the only covered stage) to see DeVotchKa. The Decemberists were playing at the same time, but since I was going to see them 5 days later at The Riv, I decided to skip them. Plus I really wanted to see DeVotchKa! Oddly, they didn’t start on time and we stood there 20 minutes getting shoved as more people tried to make their way under the covering to find shelter away from the heavy downpour of rain. But when the band made the stage, everyone was fine. Midway through their set I had just reached my limit. We had decided earlier in the day we would leave after DeVotchKa missing both headlining acts for the night: Dave Matthews Band and Ghostland Observatory, due to us being cold, wet, and muddy. As we were leaving the park we heard a few Ghostland songs, so it was good enough for me.

Day 3
Since the park had turned into a giant muddy mess we decided to try and find rain boots to wear, so before we headed over we did a quick shopping trip. We were very smart to do so. Michael decided that he would just roll up his jeans and go barefoot the whole day. Even though it didn’t rain on Sunday it was unbearably muggy and hot. It was gross. We got there early (12:30pm) and saw the last part of Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears. We were able to secure a good spot for The B-52s, who were energetic and fun. Kathy and Brian left in the middle of their set to get a good spot for White Lies. Michael and I went after The B-52s had finished. Also during this time my friend from Okla., Samantha, made it. Michael and I met up with her at White Lies. The funniest thing Michael said during their set was, “Are they on the ‘Twilight’ soundtrack?” when they were playing “To Lose My Life.” After White Lies Michael and I went to grab a bite to eat. Kathy and Brian also met up with us. At this point I had had it. I was overheated and just grumpy. I also threatened to call my mom to come and get me. I reached my end. But, after opening up my umbrella to block the abusive sun and drank some Sweet Leaf Tea, I was okay. We all then went over to see Passion Pit for a little bit and in the middle of their set, Michael and I headed over to the Livestrong stage to secure a spot for The Dead Weather, which was impossible. Since Pearl Jam (the main headlining act and closer of the festival) was going to be on that stage right after, the crowd was deep. Samantha met up with us though and we watched one of my favorite super groups perform their badass songs. The sun was setting toward the stage and there were times I thought Alison Mosshart was going to pass out. Nothing like pasty, black-clad rockers melting in the setting sun. It was a relief to have the ball of fire finally go away. At this point we had lost Kathy and Brian. We decided to meet up after Pearl Jam. Michael and I headed over to see Girl Talk. He had a crowd of people surrounding him on stage dancing the entire time. It was awesome. The crowd was really into as well and they went almost as far back as the neighboring stage. After his set, Michael and I stopped for a slushy break before heading to Pearl Jam. We knew we wouldn’t have a good spot, nor did we care. Since we were in the back we would see the waves of people who were leaving after a song they were probably waiting to hear. I just wanted to hear “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter in a Small Town,” which they played. Toward the end of the show Perry Ferrell came out to join them since the festival is also put on by him. The next day he and Michael would be on the same flight to LA. After Pearl Jam we all met up, tired and ready to go home.

Overall, the festival was fun, but it was long and draining. Kathy and Brian have already purchased tickets for next year. Michael has said he’ll go again. I will pass.

To see photos of my Austin City Limits Festival experience, click on this link:
Thanks to Michael for being the photographer for us that weekend.


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