Monday, September 17, 2007

ACL Fest Day 3

Howdy, Leaguers!

Sunday brought us the third and final day of ACL Fest 2007, my first ACL Fest after years of jealously hearing about it from Jason and having too many balls in the air last year to go (we'd literally just arrived in town).

Not sure if Shannon Cahalan himself showed up here today or not to comment on yesterday's post, but that's the tragedy of posting anonymous comments.

Heat was lower on Sunday, and I swapped by goofy fishing hat for my goofy cowboy hat, and that seemed to make a huge difference. Next year, I'm definitely going with a straw hat again, especially one with a wider brim. I also ended up ditching the Scholl's Gel pads despite their delivered promise of happier feet. The pads are narrower than my flipper like feet, and so the pads were starting to hurt the outsides of my feet.

I also want to give a mad shout out to a few products without which I could not have survived the weekend:
-Coppertone 50 SPF aerosol suntan spray. Three days in the sun and I retained my normal, pallid complexion. Sure, I looked sweaty all the time thanks to the sheen of the stuff, but I never burned and only applied once per day.
-Gold Bond Powder. If I have to explain it, best you not worry about it.
-Bottled Water. Kudos to ACL Fest for only minorly gouging us on the cost of bottled water. But we were also allowed to bring in a few bottles of our own. I don't know who these people are who drink beer in the heat, but I was pounding water all three days.

Today we rolled in around 2:30-ish and, unfortunately, the crowd was so big for Robert Earl that at the back of the crowd the sound was bleeding over from another stage. We took refuge at the Austin Ventures stage and saw Ian Ball, who was okay.

After that we sort of wandered. I watched two songs by some hip-hop outfit called "Common", was non-plussed, and moved over to see DeVotchKa at the AT&T Blue Room stage. I was under the impression they were from overseas, but after a quick web search see they're from Denver. Go figure.

Anyhow, they put on a pretty good show. Really fun, and their music is an interesting mash-up of Eastern European sound with a great rock influence. They've got a tuba, and the drummer occasionally busts out a trumpet. Little different from the standard set-up, at any rate.

When DeVotchKa wrapped I went to see Lucinda Williams play for twenty five minutes and ran into Cousin Sue, who had lost her traveling companions. Lucinda sounded pretty good, but I wanted to catch the band Jason and Mandy had mentioned, Bloc Party.

Bloc Party reminded me of some mid-80's Cure stuff, maybe off of Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. I'm not anyone else would agree, but the singer was also from the UK and had a sort of Robert Smithy feel to his singing, but the energy of the non-mopey Cure tracks.

Anyway, that's all in my crazy head. I did like them all right.

I sort of took a break after Bloc Party and am glad I did as reportedly Regina Spektor's show (my choice for that time slot) was a zoo. I could kind of hear Amos Lee, but I hung out talking to Kate and Vicki for a while before I realized I didn't feel well and was probably very dehydrated. A couple of bottles of water later I was right as rain and ready for the rest of the day.

My Morning Jacket put on a really great show, which was, oddly, luau themed. There were girls apparently there to do nothing put hold pineapples for an hour. I really like My Morning Jacket's album, Z, and the show in no way disappointed. Sort of an audio assault, which, reportedly, bled over the Wilco set over the hill.

After that, Jason and I wandered over the hill to go see Ghostland Observatory, but caught maybe 10 minutes of Wilco wrapping up. Ghostland Observatory is okay. Not really my cup of tea. No doubt it could be classified as some form of dance music, but it got a bit repetitive pretty quickly, which felt even more so at the end of three days of very different music.

We cut that set short and headed back to Camp X-Ray. Bob Dylan was the final headliner of ACL Fest.

I have a major musical and cultural blindspot when it comes to Dylan. He's a legend, surely, but as he's important to musicians and music nuts, and less so as a pop cuture figure (a la Elvis) a lot of Dylan has passed me by. No question it was great to see and hear him, but it didn't mean as much to me as other music nuts. I only knew half the songs, but I appreciated the show maybe more than really loving it.

It wasn't until I got home that part of why the show felt weird was made clear. The ACL Fest has large Jumbotron screens with good camera coverage. Apparently Dylan made a deal with the producers that he wouldn't be covered close up, and only two angles would be used. I have no idea why this was the case, but the result was that the jumbotrons were semi-useless and the intimacy of the show was somewhat compromised for us (and we were close compared to most folks).

It didn't bug me too much, obviously, as I didn't know what was weird until they mentioned it on News 8. The music more or less carried the show.

Anyway, that was pretty much it.

We got out faster than the previous two nights and the audience seemed very happy. Dylan was certainly more mellow than, say, Arcade Fire, but on such a nice, end of summer night at the end of three good days, it was hard to imagine a better way of wrapping up the weekend.

I've already asked off for tomorrow. I look forward to being lazy and useless tomorrow.


JAL said...

I kept my eye's peeled for the Crack flag, but no luck.

For my ACL dollars, M.I.A. and Regina Spektor stole the show. All in all, I thought the ladies put the fellas to shame. Bjork, St. Vincent and Heartless Bastards all put on really solid, sincere shows. I thought the other standouts were Common, Ben Kweller and Ghostland Observatory.

Anonymous said...

Common is not a group. The guy's stage name is Common.

The League said...

I dunno. I watched two songs by Common and felt he was putting on a fairly standard hip-hop show. One might say I found it rather... Common-place (thanks for clearing up the mystery, anonymous.).

I do regret missing MIA. I saw her play for a few minutes, and she was fun, but she also played at the same time as LCD Sound System, and they rocked my socks off.

I also caught the last few minutes of Heartless Bastards when I was showing up for Bela Fleck nearby.

It's tough to make generalizations about the Festival as its a bit of the blind men trying to describe the elephant. No matter where you were, and which shows you saw, you were seeing something different from someone else (except for the final show with Dylan). But that's part of the magic of a festival, I think.

As my first ACL, I had a few tricks to learn, and among them was that you should probably do well to try to see two shows per hour. It adds to the walking, and I'm not sure how it would work with a chair in tow, but its what I'll do next year.

The League said...

I didn't finish my thought on Heartless Bastards. I hadn't heard them before, but I liked them a lot and will be picking up their latest album in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Do yourself a favor, sir, and purchase Dylan's 1975 album, "Blood on the Tracks." Then you will understand.

Anonymous said...

Devotchka was great, and their European influences shined thru. They're a pretty cool band, especially when placed in the mix of all the other ACL acts. Their sound definitely stood out. I'm glad I got to see them live!

The League said...

Indeed, Titop. This was my first exposure to DeVotchKa, and I did enjoy them quite a bit. Any albums of theirs I should take a look at?

JAL said...

For anyone wondering what the hell that thing was at the Bjork show: