Monday, October 5, 2009

Austin City Limits Wrap-up Day 3

Sadly, the festival is over til' next year. All of my clothes are covered in mud, I have giant blisters on my feet, and back pains are coming back to me again. However, the memories and great shows are still outweighing the cons and I have a full day off today to recover!! I slept until 11 today which might be my record!!

Day 3 was the best day yet in my opinion. Erin and I had a late start getting to the show and parking was a little harder to find, but we made it just in time to catch the Arctic Monkeys play on the main stage. I really like these guys a lot and love their new album "Humbug" which was produced by Josh Homme. The new songs sounded incredible live and all the older punkier songs seemed to be played faster than the originals. (This worked well most of the time). I was surprised how good a guitar player Alex Turner was and at times, I felt like he was channeling Morrisey on his vocals.

After quickly downing a few large kegs of Heineken, me and Erin headed over to support some Boston kids known as Passion Pit! We were looking for an excuse to dance and from listening to a few of their tracks online, it sounded like the best option of the day. They sounded pretty promising and drew a huge crowd of people (mostly young high school kids). Their music is electronic/dancy/rock and for some reason their lead singer (who I swear I've seen walking around Boston before) kinda sounds like Jameraqui (<--- misspelled word). Anyway after seeing them, I don't really like or dislike them anymore, I still love their singles though. But I don't plan picking up their album anytime soon.

Next, it was 2 hours until the big Pearl Jam show, so we took a piss break, grabbed a couple more brews, and had Wahoo's Fish Tacos (which were bitchin' by the way, dudes!). Then we headed into the abyss of thousands and thousands of people for the Dead Weather show (who were playing on the same stage as Pearl Jam). We inched our way up as far as we possibly could and by the time Pearl Jam came onstage, I would say "We Were In It!". By the way, The Dead Weather were great and put on a highly energetic show that featured most of the songs from the new album and a couple of covers. One was a Bob Dylan song called "New Pony" and the other was their closing song - "Cool Water" (which I can't remember who did the original). Anyway, the music was dark, bluesy, and rockin...... The lead singer of the band is Allison Mosshart (who also plays in a band called the Kills) and was eye candy. The way that she moved onstage reminded me of a young Patti Smith except Allison would occasionally pull out a Bo Diddley rectangle shaped guitar. Towards the end, she laid spread out across the stage dripping in sweat and smoking a cigarette while Jack White played a sick solo on his Falcon guitar. ("If Allison was president she'd be Babeahram Lincoln!")..... Jack White was also great and played drums for the entire set minus 1 or 2 songs, but it was rare appearances on guitar that stole the show....... The rest of the band was also solid!

When the show ended, surprisingly a good amount of people left to see other shows at other stages. This gave us an opportunity to get even closer to the front to see one of my all time favorite bands - The Oak Ridge Boys!!!! (just kidding Pearl Jam). It was hot, uncomfortable, tight, muddy, and crowded where we were There was hardly any room to move for the next three hours. From this point on, there would be no more pee breaks, and no more beer runs. We sold a bottle of water for $10 to a guy behind us. And then there were quite a few people trying to cut through the crowd insisting that they had friends up in the front row. One of which, who I will call "Mr. Macho Fist Pumping Elbow throwing "I will use up all possible space and will not apologize if I accidentally hit peoples faces" Psycho #1 Fan" happened to land a spot right in front of us!! Many times throughout the show, I would consider knocking this guy out with a hard swift elbow to the face, but decided not to. I would think about the consequences like missing what could be the greatest gig of my life. This fan never did make contact with me and his fist pumping but came close many times. It wasn't until after the show that i guess he had accidentally hit two guys behind us and my girlfriend. Somehow I missed all this?!?! Luckily noone was hurt though.

Anyway enough about that guy, Pearl Jam came onstage and rocked my face off for 2 hours! The set was their typical festival show, where they play lots of hits, and don't jam too long on certain songs. But it was amazing! Just to hear 80,000 people sing along to "Alive" and Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" was worth the price of admission alone. And to make the night even more special, Ben Harper came out onstage to play lap steel on "Red Mosquito" and Perry Farrell from Jane's Addiction came out and sang my favorite JA song - "Mountain Song"! It was the type of show that fans go online and try to find bootlegs of right away. I will definitely be one of them. Eddie Vedder is probably my all time favorite rock and roll frontman. He's always very appreciative to his crowd onstage and very humble. And listening to him over the years, his voice gets better and better every tour! The whole band was phenomenal and I think I'm finally warming up to Matt Cameron on drums. The set list was as follows:

Why Go/ Inteersellar Overdrive (Pink Floyd) --> Corduroy/ Got Some/ Not for You/ Elderly Woman Behind the Counter.../ Given to Fly/ World Wide Suicide/ Even Flow/ Unthought Unknown/ Daughter/ Hail Hail/ Insignificance/ Present Tense/ State of Love and Trust/ The Fixer/ Go/ Red Mosquito/ Do the Evolution/ The Real Me (The Who)/ Alive/ Mountain Song (Janes Addiction)/ Rockin in the Free World (Neil Young)

So that was the end of a great weekend in Zilker Park. We slowly walked through miles of muck to get back to the car and drove home.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Austin City Limits Wrap-up Day 2

I'm feeling slightly run down after my 2nd day at ACL Fest. Yesterday was a mudfest and it rained the whole time we were there! Erin and I found out that the rain jackets we thought were rain-proof were actually not at all. The morning started with a sweet breakfast! Erin made a world famous omelette with peppers, onions, spinach, tomatoes, and jalapenos. On the way, I stopped to pick up a couple Avett Brothers albums which are both as amazing as I expected them to be. Soon afterwards we made our way down to the festival grounds. This time we had to park further away and it took us about 30 minutes to get where we needed to be. We did get to catch a break dancing competition on the way though. There were also tons of people selling glass pipes for smoking tobacco.

So once in the gate, we made our way to Wildflower Stage to see the Sam Roberts Band play a great blend of garage rock/Beatle-esque pop. I've always really liked this guy a lot. Back when I used to work at Universal Music, I helped to promote his first album - "We Were Born in the Flame" - which still is an all time favorite of mine. I also met him and watched some epic shows at TT the Bears in Cambridge, MA. When i put out my first CD, I gave him a copy and he was cool enough to write back the very next morning and give me some feedback on it!!! (That is awesome in my book.) Unfortunately for his ACL set, he only played a couple songs from that first album but despite that, the new songs were really good.

After that we hid under our umbrella and ate some pizza and drank some beers, before heading over to catch one of my favorite shows of the day - Flogging Molly. There's something truly inspiring about seeing an Irish punk band play to a large crowd in the pouring rain. Even if you're not truly Irish, it impossible not to be sucked in to the hoopla of dancing bodies, waiving Irish flags in the air, and crowd surfing. One minute someone is knocking someone down in the pit, the next minute they have arms around each other singing at the top of their lungs like long lost brothers.

By the end of the show, we had to pee bad! So we walked across the festival grounds and found some stalls by the Bon Iver show. The lines were insanely long and by the end, it got so bad that we were racing people in the line beside us to get to the next open stall. I was able to sneak attack my way to the open stall after an hour of waiting, while my competitor turned away for a split second. I let out a "HAHA!" as my teamates cheered me on like an Olympic hero! It was a shining moment in a sea of shit and mud!

We did catch some of Bon Iver's set (who i freakin love) but there's just something about big festivals and tons of loud drunk people that just doesn't go well with his music. I felt the same way when he played at Bonnaroo. Don't get me wrong he is great live and he plays with a full band. So the songs do rock a little more in a Neil Young & Crazy Horse meets Hall and Oates kinda way, but it still doesn't come across too welll unless you can get a spot right up in front.

After this, Erin was a little cranky, so we went and had a seat and bought a bottle of white wine in a squirt bottle, that was very refreshing. We met up with some peeps while listening to the Zac Brown Band. I can't put my finger on why but there's something I really don't like about this guy's songs. His big hit - "Chicken Fried" plays at my work about 15 times per day. People say they loooove this song. One guy at work told me one day - "I think i'm finally coming around to this guy. I can totally relate with drinking beer on a Friday night and wearing a pair of jeans that fits just right, and turning the radio on and eating some chicken fried chicke." This song is likely to go down as the greatest redneck anthem ever along with "Sweet Home Alabama". Forty years from now, I'll be driving down the highway with my 5 year old son, and this song will come on the radio, and my kid will even say "Daddy can you turn this up? I love this song!". At that point, I am likely to pull the car over and never come back again. Sadly, I will probably try and struggle to block this song from my memory for the rest of my life. I may even look into shock therapy to do this............ anyway back to set............. the Zac Brown Band was pretty freakin good! They mostly played covers including "Devil Went Down to Georgia", and "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison. Everyone in his band was just plain sick on their instruments and of course when Zac Brown closed his set with "Chicken Fried", dedicating it to all the soldiers in Iraq; everyone sang along and gave it the largest crowd reaction of the weekend.

After this we made our way to my other favorite show of the day - The Decemberists! The band played their entire new album - "Hazards of Love" from start to finish, which seemed a pretty ballsy move for a festival crowd. But it was great! This was my first time hearing the new songs and was moved. Colin Meloy is a genius in my book. The band pulled from traditional Irish folk to big dynamic Led Zeppelin style bluesy rockers. Colin Meloy switched off on vocals with two other members. One reminded me a lot of PJ Harvey.

After this, we headed over to see the Dave Matthews Band, who I haven't seen since 2001 (which by the way was a great show!). To be honest, I really wasn't looking forward to this show, but was just interested in seeing what he's been up to since 2001. Dave Matthews is not someone I would typically go and see live so I figured this would be a good time to see him. For the first time since 2001, I've heard some new DMB songs on the radio that I have really liked. "Funny How it Is" is one of them and maybe one of my favorites of 2009. His band was super as usual and Tim Reynolds played guitar for the show, who is pretty insane! We ended up leaving about halfway through the set though......... then we headed home.......... Pearl Jam tomorrow night!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Austin City Limits Wrap-up Day 1

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

So I woke up this morning, blew out my dirt boogers, and slowly started to recover from the best hangover ever....... ACL Day 1 is over with and Day 2 is starting soon! Yesterday, I saw lots of flippin' sweet shows....... The day started with bagels and coffee. Then we met up with the dog sitter who is is watching Geraldine while we were gone. Then I filled an empty water bottle with vodka and carefully sealed the bottle cap with crazy glue. That way, we would be able to save some money by not spending so much on booze once in the park. The biggest concern before the weekend started was parking but we lucked out and found a spot about a 15 minute walk from the festival grounds. So now on to the music......

We walked in just as The Knux were finishing off their set, and then stuck around for my favorite show of the day - The Avett Brothers! These guys have been all over music magazines lately because of their new album - "I and Love and You" which was produced by the great Rick Rubin. Before seeing them, I had only heard a couple of their songs, and was still unsure if I wanted to see them since Medeski, Martin, and Wood were playing at the same time. But from the first note of the set, I was immediately drawn in to their high energy and heartfelt folky bluegrass punky roots rock music. Over the years I've kinda gone away from the rootsier music but these guys have restored my faith in it! The two brothers in the band switched off between banjo, piano, guitars, drums, and bass during the set and both were amazing singers. They were also joined by a guy on upright bass and cello. I am now an obsessed fan and their latest will probably end up being my favorite album of the year, even though I haven't heard the whole thing yet!! I'm planning on picking it up later today. Below are some clips of their tunes:

After having my heart melted, i needed some comfort food....... so Erin pulled me to the food section, tenderly fed me a jamaican jerk pork kebab and then let me rest my head on her sweet bosom..... after pulling myself together, we went and looked around at artwork, t-shirts, hippy shoes and other schwag and then headed off to meet up with some friends and see the next show by the great French hope - Phoenix!! Erin is obsessed with French guys!! As I am writing this, she said it is because when she was 16, she went to a winery in France and was kissed by three French brothers who were the proprietors of the winery...... (wow Erin! this explains a lot! maybe thats why you always talk in French in your sleep.)....... Anyway Phoenix is another great band that took me a little while to get into, but I can see why they're so awesome! They are a dancy/French/Indie/Electronic/pop/ rock band. The lead singer of the group said that it was the largest crowd they had ever played for. I'm glad I was part of it! Erin thinks that i should start dressing like the lead singer of Phoenix. I just don't know. I just don't know.

After this we headed to another stage where one of the two most anticipated shows of the weekend would be held an hour and 1/2 later. Erin was very cool about getting there early and getting right up close for the big gig. The band that I would later be seeing is called Them Crooked Vultures!. But before that, Raphaal Saadiq played a funky old school set of R&B tunes that was groovin'! Complete with dancers and a smokin' horns section, Raphaal and his band were great. They even played a cover of The Stooges - "Search and Destroy" which was the "Holy Shit! Moment of the Day!"............ then came the BIG Moment where we started inching our way towards the front of the stage for Them Crooked Vultures. So if you haven't heard of this band, you will in a couple months when their album is released! They are a Supergroup that includes Dave Grohl (frontman of the Foo Fighters/drummer of Nirvana) playing the drums; John Paul Jones (the amazing composer/arranger/producer/bass extroadinaire of Led Zeppelin who was responsible for many of Zep's most epic songs including "Kashmir"); and Josh Homme (frontman for Queens of the Stone Age/Kyuss/ Eagles of Death Metal). There was also another guy playing guitar who I'm calling Bob (not because he sucks, but because he is the only one without "supergroup" status). Anyway the huge stacks of amps were rolled onto the stage, the bright blue shining drums were set up and ready to go, and Erin was stuck inside a meat festival of dirty, sweaty guys pumping their fists for a piece of rock and roll history! She has balls! While waiting in anticipation, we met a drummer from Portland, Oregon who came down for the show who bought us beers for keeping his spot. Everyone was stoked and ready to rock out! The band came out quickly onstage and just rocked out for an hour straight. There was very little talk, no bullshit balls to the wall rock and freakin' roll! Joshua Homme was the singer of the group on all the songs. This is my one complaint because I looooove Dave Grohl's voice more (i still like Homme though too)...... But there was no doubt about it these guys are monsters. Dave Grohl should have a twin who plays drums full time, because he is simply unreal!! John Paul Jones was right on the money for the whole show and even pulled out this crazy neon purple mix of a lap steel and electric guitar for a song towards the end. The songs were mostly grooze bassed long jams that were very well rehearsed. The changes in tempo and notes were very complex at times, but these guys made it look so easy!...... after an hour of that, my ears were numb........ This morning, I'm so happy that I got to see them play but the weird thing is I can't remember their songs too well. Anyways I'm looking forward to what's coming forward from these guys. Below is a clip from the show. If you look really hard you can see us up in the front row.

After all this, the beers and vodka were catching up and we stumbled our way to catch Kings of Leon who I also loooove! The crowds were insane and huge and it was impossible to get a good spot for the show. From the looks of it, people must have been camped out all day for the show. The music was hard to hear with tons of people talking and we couldn't see anything. So we headed back to the car, stopping for cheesy tater tots smothered in jalapenos (mmmmmm!), and caught a little bit of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs rocking out with the crazy Karen O wrapped up in a pink glowstick spacesuit....... The we stopped at Taco Cabana and crashed into bed.