My first year of having the Austin City Limits festival happen since moving to Austin last Fall. I liked that I was able to walk to the festival each day and walk home each night; it takes a lot of pressure off of getting in and out.
While waiting for The Afghan Whigs, I was treated to most of Ben Howard’s set at the neighboring stage. I’d heard of Ben Howard but couldn’t tell you anything about him. He dazzled the crowd at two stages with a very solid set. The Afghan Whigs were phenomenal; in ways it seems like they stepped right out of 1993, but added a maturity to their arrangements. Alabama Shakes overran one of the smaller stages, so I ended up camping out behind the stage and the sound was pretty good, from some of the reviews I read the sound in the audience wasn’t great, so maybe I lucked out. Sat through most of Weezer’s set, they are so great live! Went to go catch the tail end of Florence and the Machine’s set at the other end of the park and was impressed with the presence and variety of music coming from the stage. M83 drew a big crowd that wanted to hear “Midnight City”. There were sound issues during their set, which tarnished it, but altogether a pretty nice set. The Black Keys did a great job closing out the night as headliners. A few years ago when they played earlier in the day they showed they could draw the crowd and keep them engaged…done and done.
Who I Saw
Afghan Whigs (Ben Howard at next stage)
Florence + The Machine
Great day. Can’t narrow highlight down to one. Andrew Bird was perfect! The Shins played a really great set…James Mercer even cracked a smile once or twice. Torrential downpours. Heard the first two Jack White tracks: loud and good. Watched Neil Young play for hours in the off and on again rain. Lots of grungy crunch from Neil and Crazy Horse.
Who I Saw
The Civil Wars delighted the crowd. Pretty amazing performance considering they’re playing to a huge crowd with just one guitar and two voices. The Lumineers’ popularity has grown exponentially from when they booked for ACL and scheduled for one of the small side stages; needless to say the number of people stacking up to see them at a small stage made it an absolute disaster of people and they were too close to the hip hop band that was drowning out their sound. Iggy played a pretty great set, no complaints about a lack of sound. The Chili Peppers reminded me why they are so great. Given, I think they peaked years ago, but their live performance of new and old material showed the enthusiasm and funk that made them one of my favorite bands in the 90s.
Who I Saw
The Civil Wars
Iggy and the Stooges
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Overall a pretty great weekend, though I’m thinking that next year I might just be one of those people in the back with a lawn chair looking comfortable to just sit in one place all day. Enjoy this little playlist from some of the songs that stood out at ACL 2012.