ACL Recap Day Three: A Few Jaw Dropping Moments

Sunday was bittersweet. The bitter in that it was the last day of ACL, but the sweet that it promised to be a great day. On the agenda for Sunday were Blind Pilot, Dawes, The Morning Benders, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Band of Horses and The National.
I loved Blind Pilot’s set. It was solid and had a great turnout despite being so early in the day. They played mostly from their 3 Rounds and a Sound album, but mixed in a few new songs. The new songs have a new sound to them, lots of energy and fun, makes me really optimistic and anxious to hear what’s next from Blind Pilot.Dawes was a great follow-up. Wherein Blind Pilot brings a Portland feel to the folk/rock, Dawes brings a Southern California feel. Their 2009 release North Hills is really good, some standout songs are “That Western Skyline” and “When My Time Comes.” I felt a great feeling of hope when listening to Dawes.
We made our way down to the far corner stage for The Morning Benders. I didn’t and still don’t know much about The Morning Benders except that they’ve always reminded me a little of early Weezer and that they covered The Cardigans’ “Lovefool” a few years ago. They brought their energy and A-game mixing in power pop, and lots of guitar. The crowd was into it, and that goes a long way in a festival. Check out “Excuses” from Big Echo, their 2010 release.
There was a bit of a break in the action after The Morning Benders, knowing that the next two bands on the list would be near each other, we grabbed some food and beverages and camped out for a bit while Robert Earl Keen played. Keen is a Texas legend, an old friend of Lyle Lovett and quite good at what he does. It was a nice break and really gave a chance to gather energy. For some examples of Robert Earl Keen’s music, I’d recommend checking out “The Road Goes On Forever.”
What can I say about Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros? Fact one: There is no one in the band named Edward Sharpe. Fact two: if you know nothing about the band, you’d probably recognize their song “Janglin’” from the surreal Ford Fiesta commercials. Fact three: they might just be insane…insanely good. The energy, and artististry that they brought to their set was incredible. I walked away jealous, uplifted, and with both “Janglin’” and their song “Home” stuck in my head for days. Check out their self-titled album, you will not regret it.
Band of Horses were up next on the stage directly behind us, but also the stage that the overall headliners of the festival, The Eagles, would be playing on to close the festival a few hours away. It was flooded with people camping out. Rather than deal with the crowd too much, we found a nice place to plop down on the grass and be able to clearly hear Band of Horses crank out great song after great song.
Because we jumped out of the mess that was the main stage a little early from Band of Horses/The Eagles we lucked into being very close for The National. This was at the top of my list of bands I was looking forward to and also planned on it being our last band of the festival. It could not have been better. The band ran onto the stage the moment that The Flaming Lips ended their set on a nearby stage (with “Do You Realize?”, of course) and lit right into a set of mostly songs from their 2010 release High Violet and their wildly popular Boxer from 2007. They mixed in some old songs, but blazed through energetic, loud versions of songs I’ve come to love. There’s an emotion that their music touches that makes them unique; maybe it’s singer Matt Berninger’s brooding baritone voice, or the power of twin brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner on guitars, but part of it is the energy that comes from a great rhythm section driving their melancholy songs. If you don’t already have Boxer AND High Violet in your collection, run don’t walk to however you get your music and add them. Despite a lack of what is traditionally perceived as “good stage presence” the band wears their emotions on their sleeves and in this performance they slit their wrists and let the blood spray all over the crowd. They played well beyond their time limit citing permission from Glenn Frey of The Eagles to play for an extra few minutes. It was easily on my top 5 list for moments of the trip. Exhausted, dirty, sun burnt, hungry, and sore we allowed The Eagles to serenade our walk to the taxi stand with “Hotel California” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” it couldn’t have been better.

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