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.”

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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