Austin City Limits Music Festival 2011 – Saturday

On Saturday, I started the day with the cosmic cowboys vibes of Phosphorescent. I especially liked the song “Nothing Was Stolen (Love Me Foolishly)” off their album Here’s To Taking It Easy. Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros performed songs from this new solo release Alexander. As Alexander the hippy guru brings folksy grooves like the opener “Awake My Body.”

Alison Kraus with the voice of an angel and bluegrass band from heaven performed a sweet set of classics. The band Union Station includes the fantastic pickers Jerry Douglas and Dan Tyminski.  Tyminski sang the crowd please “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow,” the hit track from the Cohen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Alison Krauss and Union Station’s set list also included my favorites “When You Say Nothing At All,” “The Lucky One,” and “Let Me Touch You for Awhile.”

From the soft bluegrass of Alison Kraus to the ear crushing dubstep of Skrillex was a nice juxtaposition. Skrillex’s wobbling sounds and remixes included samples from Damian Marley and Major Lazer. This was the youngest and most energetic crowd I have seen in a long time. It reminded me of the grunge rock shows of the 1990s in an odd way. Skrillex has a punky feel in a in your face type of way. The music literally fucks with your brain. The crowd responded with gusto to the hit single “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites.” 

Cee-Lo followed Skrillex with a poppy soul set that included the summer banger and middle finger to the world jam “Fuck You.” He also performed the Gnarlz Barkley smash hit “Crazy.” The real musicianship though was under the tent where the Del McCoury Band joined forces with the Preservation Jazz Hall Band playing songs like “I’ll Fly Away” and “Jambalaya from their album American Legacies.

The evening concluded with a magnificent set by the king of Motown Stevie Wonder. “Superstition,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours),” “Sir Duke,” “For Once In My Life” and “My Cherie Amour” were all on the set list.  The funky politicized jam “Living For The City” rocked the park while the reggaefied funk of Master Blaster (Jammin’) brought people to their feet. My favorite song of the day was Stevie’s high powered “Higher Ground.”

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Austin City Limits Music Festival 2011 – Saturday

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