Saturday, September 15, 2007

Austin City Limits Music Fest- Day 1

Saying it was hot today would not be doing the heat justice, by the time we left our rental house we were all completely swimming in our own sweat.

We got to Zilker Park about half way into Jesse Malin’s set on the AT&T stage. This was a great way to start the festival for me, Malin and his band definitely brought the rock and got me in the mood for what was to come. We then headed over to catch the traditional bluegrass sounds of the Del McCoury Band. Watching them play in their wool suits made me even hotter so we left after a few songs and caught the end of the Heartless Bastards. Didn’t know anything about them until today, but count me as a fan now.

Next up was Pete Yorn, who I had heard good things about, but I really couldn’t get into his brand of rock. A few songs into Yorn’s set we look behind us and notice this huge plume of black smoke and flames coming from the tree line. Someone joked that it must be Willie Nelson’s tour bus, but I could tell something serious was going down. For a brief moment I though we might have to evacuate the park, because the flames were getting larger and the smoke was filling the air. Pete Yorn stopped playing and some ACL staffer came on stage and urged people to back away from the fire (no shit!) so the fire department could get through. Five minutes later they had the fire under control and Yorn was back to his show. We learned later that a propane tank had caught fire which ignited the trees. Hope no one was injured.

One of the bands I really wanted to check out today was Blonde Redhead, and they did not let me down in the least, just three musicians who created a wall of sound filled with insane guitar loops and heavy percussion. This will probably be one of my highlights of the weekend. After Blond Redhead we decided to check out Joss Stone. Now I will say that when I first heard Joss two or three years ago I was really impressed, I dig the retro soul thing that she does, but her live show didn’t do much for me. Sure, she is easy on the eyes, and she can definitely sing, but I have to wonder if so many people would be into her if she didn’t look the way she does. Another disappoint for me was M.I.A. I was expecting some crazy hip-hop/world music from her, but all we got were what seemed like the same beats and some ranting. At the end of her show she invited her entourage of family and friends up on stage for a dance party, that must have been pretty cool for those folks.

Last up for our first day was Spoon. I am a fairly recent convert of this Austin band, only owning the album Gimme Fiction and a few tracks I downloaded from their new one. You could tell that they have many local fans who turned out so see one of Austin’s finest. It was a great way to end the day at the same stage we started at.

After riding our bikes back to the house for some much needed air conditioning and cold beers, we went down to 6th Street to see Stephen Marley at Emo’s. Zap Mama was just finishing up her set when we arrived, so we headed to the back patio for a few more drinks, thinking Marley would be up soon. After a short break Zap Mama returned to the stage and played almost another full set. We then found a good spot on the floor close to the stage and watched Marley’s band set up. After a lengthy sound check the band looked ready, but Stephen was no where to be found. Now it is common knowledge that reggae bands are known to be on “rasta time”, but waiting for almost and hour and a half got real old. The crowd shared our feelings, the tension in this hot club was almost as thick as the ganja smoke that hung heavy in the air. At 1:15am Stephen did emerge and all was quickly forgiven. He played a mixture of his own tunes and songs from his father, and for that hour I could almost imagine what it must have been like to have witnessed Bob Marley in the 70’s. Stephen not only looks like his father, but he sounds just like him as well, glad we waited it out because it was so well worth it.

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