It’s been one week since the opening of Austin City Limits, three days of peace, love, and sun screen. And it’s about time for one in a series of reports….
Last Thursday, I flew from the Great White North to the Live Music Capital of the World. It was Rock Club’s second sojourn to take in a multi-day music festival. As they said in Rattle and Hum, “it’s a musical journey.” It was our collective first-time attending Austin City Limits, but with last year’s Pitchfork festival behind us, we were ready for hot weather and came prepared with effective drinking, eating, and port-a-potty-avoidance strategies.
ACL offered 3 days of great line ups, but I’m focusing on the closing day, which happened to be my birthday, Sunday, September 28th. This was dubbed “chick-day,” as it was the day that the Wives of Rock Club (WORC) had the most interest in seeing some of the acts (with the likes of Gillian Welch, Neko Case, and Okkervil River playing).
Following a good breakfast burrito from Tacodeli (I recommend the “Jess Special”), I hopped in a cab with WORC and served as guide through the massive expanse that was ACL while the Dads of Rock Club (DORC) stayed behind with their offspring. My objective on Day 3 was to focus on bands I had not yet seen live.
First up, the Kills. Here’s a peek.
Just a two piece, which is a good move in this tough economy (take note Polyphonic Spree – fewer peeps to split the $ with), the band relied on recorded sequences and back beats to build their Garbage-esque sound. Good stuff, but I missed the first half, and despite it being hot and sunny, The Kills (and many more ACL artists) stuck with the Rock n Roll uniform and wore black. By the end of their set, Jamie “Hotel” Hince had had enough of the sun, suggesting that they not return until it got cooler. So look for the Kills to return to Austin on some January day - sometime after 8pm.
Gillian Welch was next and to be honest, I didn’t pay much attention. I was too busy finding myself a straw hat to shade my head and neck. But I did pay enough attention to see Alison Kraus join her on stage for a number toward the end. Alison Kraus has a great voice, but I had my fill of her last summer at Merriweather.
We basically did a drive-by of Stars, and I didn’t like what I heard. We kept going to get a decent spot for WORC’s big draw of the afternoon.
Next up, Neko Case. Another peek.
This is what the WORC had really come to see. Neko Case’s performance made for a nice sit-down folksy affair. I like her work, but given the circumstances, it really didn’t make a big impression on me. Too far from the stage to really get into it. I’m spoiled I guess. I will say, however, that Neko Case is the kind of artist that would be good to see whilst on a date with a young lady. Upright spooning could ensue.
Moving on. Mrs. Jimbromski and I checked out Austin’s own Okkervil River next. I was particularly interested in this show since I hadn’t seen them before, and knowing that it was a home-town band made it all the more intriguing.
Yet another taste (albeit shaky and grainy):
I really dig this band’s mellowness. Will Sheff’s voice has a familiarity and earnestness to it that draws me in. The quality of his voice is degraded just a bit (as expected) during his live set in comparison to the band’s recordings, but as you can hear in the clip, they still sound great.
After Okkervil River, I was on my own for a bit with the WORC having left for the evening. Despite having seen them before and being disappointed by a lackluster performance, a text message from a friend encouraged me to catch the tail end of the Heartless Bastards’ set.
They seem to have a new line-up on stage, and with a different bassist, they rocked much harder than when we saw them at the RnRH last year. I was glad to see that, and I will no longer describe them as being “disappointing live.”
Staying at the same stage, I met up with latecomers sacklunch and Jumbo Slice for another Austin band, White Denim. We happily skipped the Raconteurs and Gnarls Barkley to check out this high powered trio. Jumbo Slice recently reviewed this band and gave them a rave review, so I’ll just say that while their sound did get a bit repetitive toward the end, they put on a fantastic performance, and I hope to see these guys in DC sometime soon.
We could have stuck around for Band of Horses (but I had seen them earlier in the year at 9:30) or for the grand finale, Foo Fighters, but we honestly didn’t care that much, and I had a birthday cake to eat. So that was it. Happy birthday to me.