Austin City Limits Music Festival through my eyes . .

/Austin City Limits Music Festival through my eyes . .

Austin City Limits Music Festival through my eyes . .

I wrote this for Elmore Magazine, A roots music magazine published in NYC. . . I had to keep it to 400 words, but this is a hybrid of the final trimmed edit and a more elaborate draft. . . Enjoy!
Austin City Limits Music Festival 2008

What sets the Austin City Limits Festival apart from other music festivals is all in the name. Austin. The ACL Festival has blossomed naturally from the spirit and vibe of hundreds of live bands that perform nightly in the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

The ACL Fest is held annually in the heart of Austin, Zilker Park, an urban oasis of spring fed swimming pools and wildlife refuges a mere five minutes from downtown. That oasis was little relief as souring temperatures and a halo of dust in the air made water bottles ubiquitous and a damp scarf a necessity. “Bandito” was the fashion of the weekend.

By day, artists who are acclaimed for nuance and intimacy were handicapped by glaring sunlight and thousands of hustling festival goers, but were aided by the devotion of their fans. Patty Griffin gave up on an a capella gospel number mid-set, but ended on top with Ray Charles’ “Lonely Avenue.” Gillian Welsh & Dave Rawlings aptly performed “I want to Sing that Rock n Roll.” Jakob Dylan’s set peaked during “Empire in my Mind” while Abigail Washburn’s enchanting voice danced effortlessly between Chinese folk songs and Bluegrass. Jose Gonzales performed acoustic and seated with two accompanists on a huge stage, but the tender beauty of their performance was lost amid the chaos.

After the sun went down, the dynamic and intimate Swell Season struggled with a half dozen embarrassing sound issues, but the spell of nighttime and a devoted audience created an almost sanctuary-esque silence in honor of the performers.

Others conquered through sheer force of will. Tight tunes, chorography, tricks and antics keept audiences hooked. Sharon Jones danced with audience members while the Dap Kings horn section tapped their toes in time. Jamie Lidell beat boxed, looped himself singing a brilliant minor triad over the beat and then scratched it all setting up a soul song reminiscent of the 1960’s. Erykah Badu’s band was tight and she commanded respect with her pregnant belly and six inch stiletto boots. The Raconteurs were clever and epic, performing songs that lingered long into a post-climax afterglow.

The Fleet Foxes and Band of Horses were sonically mesmerizing. Both bands dressed hooky songs in perfect pitch harmonies. Mike Farris’ divinely inspired vocals and spirited performance welcomed the heavens to split right open.

ACL ‘08 was entertaining, exhausting and over stimulating, like a wine tasting that goes on just a little too long, leaving you disoriented, slightly buzzed and with no ability to savor or assimilate what you’re experiencing…but satisfied nonetheless.
What sets the Austin City Limits Festival apart from other music festivals is all in the name. Austin. The ACL Festival has blossomed naturally from the spirit and vibe of hundreds of live bands that perform nightly in the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

The ACL Fest is held annually in the heart of Austin, Zilker Park, an urban oasis of spring fed swimming pools and wildlife refuges a mere five minutes from downtown. That oasis was little relief as souring temperatures and a halo of dust in the air made water bottles ubiquitous and a damp scarf a necessity. “Bandito” was the fashion of the weekend.

By day, artists who are acclaimed for nuance and intimacy were handicapped by glaring sunlight and thousands of hustling festival goers, but were aided by the devotion of their fans. Patty Griffin gave up on an a capella gospel number mid-set, but ended on top with Ray Charles’ “Lonely Avenue.” Gillian Welsh & Dave Rawlings aptly performed “I want to Sing that Rock n Roll.” Jakob Dylan’s set peaked during “Empire in my Mind” while Abigail Washburn’s enchanting voice danced effortlessly between Chinese folk songs and Bluegrass. Jose Gonzales performed acoustic and seated with two accompanists on a huge stage, but the tender beauty of their performance was lost amid the chaos.

After the sun went down, the dynamic and intimate Swell Season struggled with a half dozen embarrassing sound issues, but the spell of nighttime and a devoted audience created an almost sanctuary-esque silence in honor of the performers.

Others conquered through sheer force of will. Tight tunes, chorography, tricks and antics keept audiences hooked. Sharon Jones danced with audience members while the Dap Kings horn section tapped their toes in time. Jamie Lidell beat boxed, looped himself singing a brilliant minor triad over the beat and then scratched it all setting up a soul song reminiscent of the 1960’s. Erykah Badu’s band was tight and she commanded respect with her pregnant belly and six inch stiletto boots. The Raconteurs were clever and epic, performing songs that lingered long into a post-climax afterglow.

The Fleet Foxes and Band of Horses were sonically mesmerizing. Both bands dressed hooky songs in perfect pitch harmonies. Mike Farris’ divinely inspired vocals and spirited performance welcomed the heavens to split right open.

ACL ‘08 was entertaining, exhausting and over stimulating, like a wine tasting that goes on just a little too long, leaving you disoriented, slightly buzzed and with no ability to savor or assimilate what you’re experiencing…but satisfied nonetheless.

Thanks Mark Fradl, my editor and co-writing partner in crime!

2008-10-17T19:35:00+00:00 October 17th, 2008|