Austin City Limits Music Festival 2010 – DAY THREE

Sunday at the Austin City Limits Music Festival was the best day of music I have experienced in a long time. We started the day with a brilliant set from Ruby Jane. The fifteen-year-old fiddle virtuoso played originals and well-picked covers, including a beautiful version of the Townes Van Zandtsong “Be Here to Love Me.” I especially like Ruby Jane’s “Feels Like Home.” Ruby Jane has an old time feel, but modern sensibilities. For example she put a new twist on the Django Reinhardt tune “Minor Swing.”  She played several originals like “Beautiful You, Happy Me,” “The Fall,” and “Stick Around” and concluded her set with a rocking “Greasy World.”

During the day, I caught sets from Ted Leo & The Pharmacists and Portugal The Man. I liked these bands, but it was Robert Earl Keenwho made me feel at home in Zilker Park. A standard bearer for the ACL festival, Keen played a nice mix of new tunes and classics. The classics included: “I’m Comin’ Home,” “Gringo Honeymoon,” and “Dreadful Selfish Crime.” Robert Earl Keen served up a chill version of “Feelin’ Good Again,” as well as a fantastic version of the Grateful Dead staple “I Know You Rider.” And of course the set was capped by a jamming version of “The Road Goes on Forever.”

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros brought the festival to life. With the feeling of a revival this band of wonderful musicians commenced to make everyone dance and sing along. They opened with a nice “40 Day Dream.” I am especially a big fan of the song “Home,” which was a big hit with the crowd. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros were a highlight for me. They also played the tunes “Janglin” andCome In Please” from the new album Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. The charismatic Alex Ebert leads the band while Jade Castrinos brings a powerful vocal punch to the mix. In fact, I hope to see more of Jade on future releases.

After the Zeros I headed over for The Flaming Lips. The psychadelic warrior Wayne Cohen puts on a hell of a show, playing the classic tracks “Do You Realize??” andShe Don’t Use Jelly.” Norah Jones also played a sweet set of new and old tunes. I especially like the new tracks “Chasing Pirates” and “It’s Gonna Be” from the new album The Fall. She played a beautiful version of Johnny Cashs “Cry Cry Cry.” The night fell as Jones sung “Come Away With Me,” “Creepin’ In,” and “Sunrise.” And she closed with the Texan anthem “Lonestar.”

The Eagles opened their set with the full on harmonies from “Seven Bridges Road.” As the band sang “there are stars in the Southern skies,” the crowd erupted. From there we went on a wild ride through the Eagles catalog from “How Long” to “Take It To The Limit.” A trumpet solo introduced “Hotel California.” Quite frankly, I have been waiting a lifetime to hear “Hotel California” performed live.

Yet the night continued to get better, especially after achieving that “Peaceful Easy Feeling”  followed by a pleasant stroll through “I Can’t Tell You Why.” It was a solid start with mega-hits like “Witchy Woman” and “Lyin’ Eyes.” After a spacey almost psychadelic “Long Road Out Of Eden” the band transitioned into some past solo material. First the Eagles covered the James Gang hit “Walk Away.” And, “It seems to me” that the Eagles rock! Next they played the Don Henley solo hit from the 1980s “The Boys Of Summer.”

The cover material was followed by the hard-hitting social message laden tune “In The City.” In fact, I had never realized the political overtones in the Eagles material. The choreographed video and light show added emphasis to the social message in the song. “In The City” was followed by the classic track “The Long Run.” My favorite moment came when the band broke into the Joe Walsh tune “Life’s Been Good.” Before Spinal Tap poked fun at the rock star lifestyle, Joe Walsh had done it in this expose of excess and partying. After this, I was curious how the band would finale considering the amazing songs that had already been played.

But sure enough, the Eagles pleased with a hard hitting Don Henley song “Dirty Laundry.” The wonderful sound combined with the impressive video footage created a multimedia extravaganza during this song. Again an interesting political message emerged from the song. The band then returned to The James Gang and their hit “Funk #49.” To close the set the Eagles wrapped up with the pounding drums of “Heartache Tonight” and the rip-roaring guitars of “Life In The Fast Lane.” For an encore, the band brought the audience to its feet with “Take It Easy” and closed with a Texan favorite “Desperado.”

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2010 – DAY THREE

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2010 – DAY TWO

On day two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival we started the day at the Austin Ventures Stage with an electro-pop alternative/indie rock band from Northern Ireland called Two Door Cinema Club. The setlist included a hard-hitting barrage of tracks: “Cigarettes in the Theatre,” “Undercover Martyn,” “Do You Want It All?,” and the solid hit “Something Good Can Work.” The boys from Bangor, Northern Ireland played several tracks like “This Is Life,” “You’re Not Stuboorn,” “What You Know,” and “Eat That Up, It’s Good For You” from their new album Tourist History. And with the closers “Come Back Home” and especially the single “I Can Talk” the young rockers finished strong.

Tourist History

Following Two Door Cinema Club, Andrew Mayer Cohen aka Mayer Hawthorne representing Ann Arbor, Michigan brought the soul of the Motor City to Austin City Limits. The sweet sounding “Maybe So, Maybe No” set the vibe for the afternoon set. Mayer Hawthorne and the County then flipped the script playing the remixed versionGangsta Luv” recorded with the smooth rhyming rapper Snoop Doggy DoggThen he slowed down again for a chill version of “I Wish It Would Rain.”

His neo-soul sound flows in the same manner as the R&B and Soul revivalists: Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Amy Winehouse. Not that Hawthorne sounds like these contemporaries but rather he sounds more like the classic crooners of old–Smokey Robinson and the Miracles or Marvin Gaye. The soul session then evolved into a sing along with a spot on cover version of the classic Doobie Brothers trackWhat A Fool Believes.” And, ultimately Mayer Hawthorne returned to his roots with the R&B jam ” Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out.”

I left the Austin Ventures stage for the Broken Bells. My family stayed behind for the Local Natives, which they reported were awesome ,especially since the 15-year old virtuoso fiddle player and singer-songwriter Ruby Jane joined the band for a musical ride. Unfortunately, this is the problem with Austin City Limits: there are too many bands at the same time to really see all the bands that you want to see.

I hated to miss the Local Natives, but the Broken Bells beckoned. Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse and James Mercer of the Oregon Indie Rock band The Shins align to make melodic space rock music like “Vaporize” andOctober.” And, I especially like the tracks “The Ghost Inside” andThe High Road.” Some tracks are more punchy like “The Mall & Misery,” but for the most part Broken Bells songs are spaced-out, well crafted, and textured rock songs. Danger Mouse adds layers of synths and keys atop the haunting vocals of James Mercer.

The Monsters Of Folk are a 2010 version of a folk-rock supergroup. They are our generation’s Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Combine the breathtaking vocals of  Yim Yames aka Jim James from My Morning Jacket with the rootsy vocals of Conor Oberst and the talents of multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes; then mix in the vocalist and music maker M. Ward, the genius behind groups like She & Him and you’ve got one hell of a supergroup.

The show opened with the harmonizing vocalists singing “hold out your hands” and “Say Please.”  Although festival organizers should have put this top notch band on a bigger stage, they still managed to put together a wonderful set, including songs from the album Monsters Of Folk. The set included: “The Right Place,”Man Named Truth,” “Ahead of the Curve,”Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.),” “Slow Down Jo,” “The Sandman, The Brakeman And Me,” and “Baby Boomer.”

But the band also played songs from other projects including the Bright Eyes tunes “Soul Singer in a Session Band,” ‘Hit the Switch,” “At the Bottom of Everything,” and “Another Travelin’ Song.” They also played a wonderful version of the M. Ward song “Vincent O’Brien” and the My Morning Jacket tracks “Golden” alongside a fantastic take on “Smokin from Shootin.” Although the guys covered material from other projects they stayed true to their collaborative material playing Monsters of Folk originals like “Whole Lotta Losin’,” “Temazcal,” and “Map Of The World.” And they closed with the haunting “His Master’s Voice.”

Matt & Kim provided a nice interlude between Monsters of Folk and M.I.A. I liked how the duo interlaced their indie dance rock with dance tracks. At one point, I heard a rip-roaring dancehall cut from Diplo’s Major Lazer album Gunz Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do called “Pon De Floor.” Plus there was a nice cover of the Biz Markie favorite “Just A Friend.” Essentially Matt & Kim threw a party on their stage playing their own stuff like “Daylight” alongside other great samples and beats.

Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam aka M.I.A. is a performing artists. For this show, we got up close and danced our assess off. From the slamming “Galang” to the hardcore “World Town” M.I.A. brought anarchy to ACL. I heard lots of complaints about M.I.A. from people near the back, but up front the sounds and sights elicited a punk electronica atmosphere. Of course she played the megahitPaper Planes.”  And she concluded with the noisy “Born Free” from her new loud album Maya. Also, we caught the end of a solid Muse show. Luckily, the science fiction rockers played “Starlight.”

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2010 – DAY TWO

Austin City Limits Festival – DAY ONE

I went to ACL yesterday and saw some great bands, including Sahara Smith, Asleep at the Wheel, Blues Traveler, Kings Go Forth, the Black Keys, Pat GreenSlightly Stoopid, Vampire Weekend, and Phish. Wimberly, Texas-based Sahara Smith opened on the Austin Ventures stage and I liked the song “Are You Lonely.” But, it was Asleep at the Wheel that set the mood for the rest of my ACL experience. Ray Benson and his friends rocked. With steel guitar, fiddles, piano, guitars, bass, and drums The Wheel blazed through a hot set of western swing and classic country. The band opened with “Miles and Miles of Texas” and “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.”

Bob Wills Is Still The King

Asleep at the Wheel has been an institution in Texas since the 1970s. The band paid tribute to their heroes Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys with a Waylon Jennings song “Bob Wills Is Still The King.” From there they played the Bob Wills super-hit  “New San Antonio Rose.” Often Asleep at the Wheel teams up with a famous artist. For example, Leon Rausch recorded a new album with the Wheel called It’s A Good Day. At ACL Asleep at the Wheel played the title track from the album. The swinging musicians also played tracks from the Willie And The Wheel album recorded with Texas icon Willie Nelson, including “Hesitation Blues,” “Sweet Jennie Lee,” “Oh! You Pretty Woman,” and “I’m Sittin’ on Top of the World.”

I'm Sittin' on Top of the World

The rollicking Asleep at the Wheel set got even better with the hilariously titled song “Big Balls in Cowtown.” Followed by one of my favorite tunes of all time: “Hot Rod Lincoln.” I am a big fan of the post-1960s western swing revivalists. Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen are another fine band that fits into the mold–a band that also played a wild version of “Hot Rod Lincoln,” as well as a great version of “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette.” Commander Cody appealed to the west coast hippies paying homage to the Cowboy Code. Long haired Ray Benson fits in with these western swing revivialists, but Asleep at the Wheel is more than all that. They have become an institution in Texas keeping musical traditions alive. Plus Texas music history owes a debt of gratitude to the band. The excellent theatre production A Ride with Bob featured Asleep at the Wheel and the amazing Ruby Jane playing a young Bob Wills. From pure western swing to boogie woogie the Wheel wrapped up their set with “Boogie Back to Texas” and “Bump Bounce Boogie.”

Free

Donavon Frankenreiter followed the Wheel with a fun set including “Move By Yourself” and “Free.” Frankenreiter played a sweet song written for his son titled “Call Me Papa.” He then covered Tom Petty’sAmerican Girl,” putting a chill twist on the Classic Rock gem. The mustached singer played his hit single “Glow” and the catchy “It Don’t Matter.”

Blues Travelerkilled with their old school single “But Anyway” and a cover version of Radiohead‘sCreep.” The hit singles “Run-Around and “The Mountains Win Again” were followed by an amazing jam with the 15-year-old fiddle player Ruby Jane. Jon Popper and his tight jam band also covered the Sublime song “What I Got” ending with the mega-hit “Hook.”

The Outsiders Are Back

The Kings Go Forthwere the great surprise band for me on Friday. Their 1970s funky disco sounds were groovy. This 10-piece American soul band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin has an incredible stage presence to accompany jams like “One Day,” “I Don’t Love You No More,” and “Don’t Take My Shadow.”  We all know what made Milwaukee famous, but now we know why it is funky!

The Black Keys powered through a garage rock and blues set that included “Thickfreakness,” Strange Times,”Tighten Up,” “Your Touch,” and “Everlasting Light.” While Texas country artist Pat Green transitioned from the anthem  “Wave on Wave” into a nice cover of U2‘sAll I Want Is You.”

Chronchitis

I have seen Slightly Stoopid at ACL at least three times now. And I have liked every show. The dubby grooves are infectious. The reggae-punk rock formula originally perfected by Long Beach’s Sublime works well. Plus the lads from San Diego have mastered their vocals and guitar playing and their brand of stoner rock is always welcome in Austin. Among the songs played at the festival were “I Would Do For You” and “Till It Gets Wet” and the extremely danceable “Somebody.” Slightly Stoopid plays party songs interlaced by the occasional punk rock explosion like “Punk Rock Billy.” But don’t think there is not a message in the music. Just take a close listen to the politically charged “Runnin’ With A Gun.” 

Vampire Weekend provided a nice segue between the dub of Slightly Stoopid and the jam rock of Phish. The Columbia graduates sound like Paul Simon’s Graceland with strong hints of The Clash and various other world music sounds mashed together into a refreshing pop sound. The set list included: “Horchata,” “Cousins,” “Oxford Comma,” “White Sky,” “Holiday,” “California English,” “I Think Ur A Contra,” and “Walcott.”

Phish played a classic set opening with a rocking “Down With Disease.” They followed up that original song with a cover of the Talking Heads track “Cities.” Phish is Mike Gordon on bass, Trey Anastasio on guitar, Jon Fishman on drums, and Page McConnellon keys. But at times it seems like there might be twenty people on stage. The sound is full and lush and really meant to be listened to at a venue like Zilker Park. Following the Talking Heads cover, Phish geared up for a funky-driving “Possum.”

Wolfman’s Brother” brought people to their dancing feet while a jammed out version of “Chalk Dust Torture” awed the crowd. My favorite moment was an unexpected Velvet Underground cover. I dig Lou Reedand the Velvet Underground, so a bad ass version of “Rock And Roll” is alright with me. From this foray into the underground  Phish smoothly transitioned into an almost symphonic spaced out “2001.” I am also a big fan of the newest album Joy, from which Phish played the excellent track “Backwards Down The Number Line .”

Joy (Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version)

After a reggafied “Harry Hood” the boys played another one from Joy called “Light.” I am not as familiar with this song, but it provided a nice pallet cleanser for a rockin’ “Suzy Greenberg.” The set concluded with an extended “You Enjoy Myself.”  The encore rocked with a killer version of “Cavern” and a crowd-pleasing “First Tube.”

Quite frankly, Phish put on a hell of a show. It was nice to see Phish in Texas again. I hadn’t seen Phish in Austin since they played at South Park Meadows in the late 1990s. Hopefully, Phish will return to Texas in the near future. People forget Trey Anastasio was born in Fort Worth, Texas. So come on boys, bring it on back to Texas sometime. Why not? I guarantee a sold out crowd at the Bass Performance Hall in downtown Fort Worth. Come rip our faces off with a howling version of The Edgar Winter Group‘sFrankenstein.”

Austin City Limits Festival – DAY ONE

ACL Preview – Austin City Limits Music Festival

The Fall (Amazon Exclusive)

After reviewing the lineup for the Austin City Limits Music Festival I am ready for an interesting three days of music. I must admit I am an Eagles fan. And I am hoping for the hits “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Take It Easy,” and “Hotel California.” The Eagles reached supergroup status long ago in Texas and obtained Rock and Hall Fame glory in 1998. In fact the entire album Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 was on constant rotation in our house. An evening with “Lyin’ Eyes” and “Already Gone” would be commonplace.

Hotel California

Don Henley and Joe Walsh by themselves should be future Rock and Roll hall fame inductees. And I am hoping for some solo gems like “Life’s Been Good,” “Rocky Mountain Way,” or even “The Boys Of Summer” and “The End Of The Innocence.” From southern rock  classics like “Seven Bridges Road” to soft rock standards “Desperado,” “One Of These Nights,” “The Best Of My Love,” and “Take It To The Limit” the Eagles have been an integral part of my life since early childhood. So I’ll have to disagree with The Dude on this one. The Eagles are worthy! And I am looking forward to “Witchy Woman” and another “Tequila Sunrise.”

Come Away With Me

Norah Jones should be a great show. Her newest album The Fall included the electrified “Chasing Pirates.” And her lush vocals on “Come Away With Me” and “Don’t Know Why” are now legendary. Jones is a talented pianist and her music will be a perfect fit for Austin. In this same easy-going musical vein, I am excited about seeing the talented singer Amos Lee perform sweet tunes like “Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight.”

The Resistance

The Muse versus M.I.A. problem causes a little consternation for me. I am a sucker for dancehall, electronica, and Public Enemystyle beats with female emcees. So M.I.A. and her funky fresh posse are certain to bring chaos to Austin, Texas. At her last appearance at ACL, M.I.A. unleashed mayhem. The new album Maya offers some tasty singles to drop, including the feature track “Xxxo.”  And the crowd pleasers “Paper Planes” and “Galang” are always slamming. Yet I’m going to try and catch the end of MUSE because this science fiction infused rock band brings a wicked light show to accompany their monster jams. Take a listen to “Starlight,” “Uprising,” or “Knights Of Cydonia” for a taste of their sound.

Maya (Deluxe Version) [Explicit]

The Monsters Of Folk are my must-see band for the festival. The band includes M.Ward, Yim Yames aka Jim James from My Morning Jacket, and Conor Oberst and Mike Moogis from Bright Eyes. This modern-day supergroup has a country hippy sound reminiscent of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers. For example, check out the beautifully crafted “The Right Place.” And they have a couple of haunting stunners like the super hit “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.).” The Monsters Of Folk will have you tapping your toes and singing along to songs like “Say Please.”

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

I am also excited about seeing Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The National, Mayer Hawthorne, Vampire Weekend, and Broken Bells featuring Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse and James Mercer of The Shins. Plus the great thing about ACL is a lineup full of Texas-based musical artists like Robert Earl Keen, Spoon, and Asleep at the Wheel. And finally, on a reggae note California stoners Slightly Stoopid and the American reggae band Rebelution add some good vibes to the lineup.

Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975

One Of These Nights

Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)

Broken Bells

ACL Preview – Austin City Limits Music Festival