Austin City Limits Music Festival

Herein lies my account of a rather hot and sort of frustrating but nonetheless memorable ACL festival. Enter at your own risk.

All photos can be found on my Flickr page, under “ACL”. That bunch also has some shots from last year. Once I start paying for Flickr, I’ll be able to make some more sets and be better organized.

Friday –

After a propane tank blew up in the early afternoon, the festival become quite tough to get into. So tough, in fact, that it took us a full hour to make it through the gates. We were forced to listen to Blonde Redhead, which made it even worse for us (I know some like this band, and I hope you understand that they just aren’t my cup of tea. Plus their sound wasn’t great. At least, I assume it was the sound system’s fault…).

LCD Soundsystem

Started off with LCD Soundsystem. We only heard a few of their songs, since we had planned to trek it over to see Spoon, who started right after LCD. I wish we could have had more time at LCD Soundsystem, because they were in the middle of a rockin’ set when we left.

Spoon Balloon

I have a few more pictures of Spoon, but I like this picture of the balloon. I’ve seen Spoon several times (this fest appearance made it four or five), and they’ve been better. I don’t have their new album, so I was one of the kids waiting for some old songs. Their performance of “Fitted Shirt” was great, but I honestly don’t remember being blown away by any other songs. Sorry guys.


Again, I have a few more (blurry) pictures of the Bjork show, but I like the lasers in this one. We only stayed for a few of her songs because honestly, if you’re not a fan, everything sounds the same after a while. She’s got a great voice, horrible but entertaining fashion sense, and a stage show that impresses. I dig her videos more than that concert, but again, I’m not a huge fan or anything. Bottom line – I’m glad I can say that I saw Bjork.

Saturday –

Dr. Dog

I should have cropped this photo. Oh well. We started the day early by seeing Dr. Dog, one of my current loves (get their CD people!). I think their sound could have been a tad better, and it was really hot (they started at 12:30). I think these two things prevented me from absolutely loving their set, but I enjoyed them anyway. Their enthusiasm was great; you could tell they were happy to be there.


After Dr. Dog we huddled under a tree for shade and rest. From there we listened to some of Augustana’s set. Can’t say I was too impressed. I mean, I got bored enough to take these pictures:




I should explain the pinatas. See, the crowds at ACL are growing every year. And if you’re not a incredibly tall, you’ll have a hard time finding your friends. So we came up with an extendable pole (marketed as a light bulb changing pole) and these pinatas. When we needed to locate each other, up went the pinatas. Worked like a charm. Worked so well, in fact, that others used our pinatas as markers. Kim’s was Elmo, and mine was…well…he was a football ref until Jared drew Salvador Dali-esque eyebrows and mustache on his face. Then he just became an angry-looking Frenchman.

Cold War Kids

From there it was on to the Cold War Kids. Rather disappointing set for me. The lead singer’s (doesn’t he look like he belongs on Wall Street?) voice got very tiring.

Arctic Monkeys

We got a spot at the AMD stage in preparation for Arcade Fire, and caught the Arctic Monkeys set. Way too loud but great show regardless. Actually had to put in some ear plugs, as the speakers were pointing right at my ear drums.


From the spot at the AMD stage we were able to hear (and blurrily see) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. We saw this band at Stubb’s a few months back, and their show then was much better. Still, they sounded pretty good and I was sad that I wasn’t any closer.

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire. I love love love this band, and they didn’t disappoint me this year. Their stage show was entertaining (the red lights form a Neon Bible, the title of their new album) and they sounded amazing. They seemed truly happy to be back at ACL, and we all showered them with love by singing along to every song. If you like this band and haven’t seen them live, you’re crazy. Do it now.

Sunday –


Got off to a late start with Lucinda Williams. I only caught the tail end of her show, and the crowd seemed to be having a great time. She sounded pretty good–when I walked up she was singing “Riders on the Storm”–but when she started talking religion and politics she lost my interest a bit. I’d rather hear you people sing, not talk about your personal beliefs.


Wilco. Along with Arcade Fire, this band made my ticket price worth every penny. I’ve fallen in love with Wilco over the past three years, and I’ve seen them three times. This was by far the best show I’ve been to, and it could have been due to the fact that I was in the second row:

Wilco again

What I love most about this band’s live show is that they just come out and play music. That’s it. No lasers, no fancy screens–not that I don’t like those. For some bands those things work. Wilco doesn’t use them, and I’m glad. It’s refreshing to see a show that’s all about the music. Jeff Tweedy was in a particularly good mood this time, which just made everything better.

Ghostland Observatory

Only saw a little of Ghostland Observatory, but in hindsight I should have stayed for the whole set. They were kickin’ some ass that night, and leaving them for The Decemberists made me sad. I’ll catch them when they come through again.


From what I could hear of The Decemberists, they sounded pretty good. The crowd was into them, but I think most of the people towards the back were waiting for Dylan (their stages were close together). I don’t have any of their stuff (I’d like to remedy that), but they really didn’t pull me in like Ghostland did.


This was how close I got for Dylan. I probably could have gotten closer, but oh well. From where I was, you could barely hear the music. What you could hear of Bob’s voice was awful, so I didn’t stay long. Granted, there are some that say he’s never sounded great, but I’d beg to differ. I agree that he’s more songwriter than singer, but for the most part I dig his voice. I just couldn’t get into it here. Oh well. At least I can say I was in the same mile radius as Bob Dylan. Whoo!


So overall, ACL was a success this year. I had fun, and got to see some great performances. I probably would have done some things differently (stayed for all of LCD Soundsystem, stayed for Ghostland Observatory), but I was glad I got what I did out of my ticket. I don’t know how many more years I’ve got in me, but I still think this is all worth it.


3 Responses

  1. I love the pinata idea. My fellah is tall enough to change just about any lightbulb on his own, iso t’s not really a necessity for us, but I think it’s a stroke of brilliance. And very funny.

  2. Thanks. 🙂 Yeah, we wanted something collapsible so that we wouldn’t have to shove big poles in the car. And the pinatas, well, my original idea was to stick the pole up their, ahem, behinds, but we ended up tying them to the poles instead.

  3. Re: The photo of me:

    I hate you.

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