I’m afraid that I’ve let too much time pass without writing about the weekend, so I’ll see if I can do it justice, and then hopefully Brooke, Natalie & Tiffany will also weigh in with comments. I tried to write things down as they happened, but then it got a little hard to write, so…I’m just going to have to let Twitter act as my memory for some things. Here’s what I do remember, though:
Thursday, October 1:
An entire day to catch up with my friend Tiffany on the way to Austin; I was so lucky! We were major concert people when I lived in Birmingham, so it was also fun to share another music road trip with her. We left B’ham around 4:15am and got into Austin (or Brooke’s part, anyway) around 6pm, but the trip seemed to go by really quickly.
Friday, October 2:
Somehow, even with moving to an entirely different zip code, Brooke was closer to the park than she was last year, which was awesome.
Sara Watkins, 2:00ish: When we got to the park, we just plopped down near a stage, and this is where we ended up. I’m kinda sad I didn’t see Blitzen Trapper, but not so sad that I call it a regret. Sara Watkins was a soothing way to start the festival.
Between sets we heard a little of The Knux. They sounded pretty fun and I’d like to see them again…
Avett Brothers, 2:30: I didn’t know much about these guys except that I’d heard one of their songs on Lightning 100 and Erin Moon was a fan. Ever since Erin enlightened me with the Patty Griffin Educator, I’ve taken her word on music – and it paid off again this time! They were amazing; tons of energy and really fed off the crowd. Also, I’ll come out and say it…they were pretty darn cute. I kept imagining what their family reunions must be like, or Christmas. How fun would that be?
The Walkmen, 3:30: The downer of the day was that I had to choose between being close for The Walkmen or being close for Phoenix. We listened to these guys from our place at the other stage, though, and I’d definitely pay to see them if they came close by. In my festival book I’ve written “Margaritaville” for some reason. It had to have been a compliment, but I can’t remember how.
Phoenix, 4:30: Sigh. I get warm fuzzies just thinking about them. If you watched them on SNL and wondered if they could be that good or were lip-syncing, let me just say that unless they lip-synced their way through a 30k+ outdoor show (which would actually take a fair amount of talent itself), they really are that good. The lead singer was uber-humble and they looked really happy and excited to be there. Dave Grohl played keys and some auxiliary percussion for their entire set, which was cool.
I’m going to label Phoenix as my #1 of the festival.
Raphael Saadiq, 5:30: One quick note: I thought I’d feel the same way about Saadiq as I felt about The Walkmen, but after hearing him play his two most recent hits first, I wasn’t impressed. So there.
John Legend, 6:30: As enticingly, internationally and adorably attractive as the guys of Phoenix were, the crowd went crazy for Mr. Legend. It made me laugh – he took one look into the camera and every girl there was putty in his hands. We decided that he looked like a well-adjusted, grown-up child actor with his dimples. He was an amazing entertainer and as an aside, his girlfriend had these really cool boots that I’ve been trying to find online. This show was made more enjoyable by the Street Team Queen/transplanted Valley girl that stood next to us. She was hilarious!
Them Crooked Vultures/Andrew Bird, 7:30: I can’t say that I really listened to either of these acts, but here’s what I gathered as…
…I stood in line for the restroom: Them Crooked Vultures was fun and put on a great live show (but with that lineup, how could they not?). Would I buy their album? Umm…
…I sat on the hill waiting for Kings of Leon: Andrew Bird is a master musician. I’d already sacrificed his show in my mind way back when Lily Allen was going to be at the festival and performing at the same time as he was. Sitting in the same 200 yard area and listening to his jaw-droppingly good whistling was enough for me. Andrew Bird is the performer that makes you want to take all your friends to see him, because he’s amazing but hard to describe.
Kings of Leon/Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 8:30: Natalie, Brooke and I started out closer to the stage for KoL than where we ended up – the sound was pretty hard to make out because from where we were, you could hear the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at equal volume. KoL was taping their ACL show and took breaks between each song, which was annoying. I couldn’t say that I listened to either of these headliners.
Saturday, October 3:
We “started” the day with lunch with DELGADO!, Geoffrey and two new friends. Way fun to see these guys. I wish we’d had more time to visit…
Mute Math, 2:00: Once at the festival, we hit the Mute Math stage. It was drizzly and the ponchos made for an awkward day. After two or three hours, I was getting unreasonably frustrated by the cheap snaps on mine and snapping those damn things occupied way too much of my time. Anyway…back to Mute Math. As always, they put on a great show and it was fun seeing Nate in action. I’m always impressed by M2’s energy and seeing experimental-ish music live is my favorite!
Grizzly Bear, 3:00: The rain got heavier during Grizzly Bear, but it was still okay. Of all the bands I saw, GB was the most unassuming group. If they’d all been standing in a crowd, I’m not sure I would’ve thought they knew each other, much less performed together. They were good live – a seamless CD-to-stage transfer.
Citizen Cope, 4:00: This is where it started to get a little yucky. We stayed near-ish to the Grizzly Bear stage to wait for Bon Iver and listened to Citizen Cope during the wait. Just like on the radio, C2’s songs all sounded the same (to me). It was much more fun to people watch, because the pathways were starting to get muddy. I can’t remember, but I think this was around the time we saw the guy in an open bathrobe and his tighty-whiteys.
Bon Iver, 5:00: I’m glad that I got to hear Bon Iver before his indefinite hiatus, but about three songs into his set, life was imitating art a little too closely for me. The rain combined with the darkening, overcast sky, combined with Mr. Vernon’s music all came together and made me feel like I’d been standing still in a water-logged Northern Ireland field for two days. I had to get out of there, so…
Mos Def, 6:00: …Natalie and I headed over to wait for Mos Def. The rain was heavy enough to delay his set by about fifteen minutes, and when he finally started up, they’d set up his drums far enough back and to the right that we couldn’t see him at all. When they showed him on the screen, he looked out of it. We didn’t stick around long. I ended up listening to his set from the line for the restroom, stuck between two guys trying to configure the perfect port-o-potty set up and a drunk girl who kept vomiting off to the side…and then she went into the restroom in BARE FEET! I swear I checked to see if she was Britney. (She wasn’t.)
The Decemberists, 7:00: I am really, really impressed by how their voices, especially the girls’ voices, held up in the gross weather. They sounded awesome and even from where I was standing the “show” aspect looked really good! We stayed until almost the end of their set and then headed home…before the rain we’d talked about staying for a song or two of Dave Matthews Band, but after standing in it all day…no dice.
We walked through dirt soup (not quite thick enough to be mud) to get out of the park. We had to pass by the STS9 stage on the way out and it took me back to my last semester of college…there was even a trance dancer! High five!
Sunday, October 4:
Tiffany, Natalie and I went to Threadgill’s for breakfast and we got to meet Tiffy’s cousin Holly and her husband. Fun visit!
The B-52s, 2:00: Tiffany paid for us to have pedi-cabs take us to the entrance so we wouldn’t miss any of The B-52s. Mission: accomplished. If I had to describe them in one word, it would be FABULOUS. They sounded great, looked (old but) perfect and put on a great show. They were my David Byrne of ’09; my “I’m so glad I got a chance to see them” show. It’s great that all three of their voices are so unique and recognizable…when they combine them? Money.
Ben Sollee/Paul Green’s School of Rock All-Stars, 3:15ish: I’d heard that Ben Sollee was going to be in Austin Kiddie Limits for a short set, so rather than walk through the (now disgusting, manure-smelling) mud any more than I had to, I decided to check that out rather than his later, fuller set at a stage across the park. He sounded great, and there was a precious moment when a little girl interrupted him to tell him she played the cello, too. Brooke and I also listened to a little bit of the School of Rock, saw her friend Dave and then went to scout places for Passion Pit.
Passion Pit, 5:00: Correctly anticipating that P2 would be ‘09’s MGMT, we decided not to get too close and luckily found places to sit that weren’t muddy. We had a blissful half-hour of sitting in the sun. A girl (whose name I cant’ remember, eek!) asked if we went to Austin Stone; she knew Dave. Natalie joined us and we chatted with the slightly-intoxicated guy to her left. Although our view was a sea of legs and stroller wheels, P2 was pretty fun, but ultimately not worth a whole set in that crowd.
Rebirth Brass Band/Preservation Hall, 5:45ish: Natalie and I wandered through the mud and happened on the Rebirth Brass Band…it was the place to be! Fun, NOLA-style dance hall band…I’ve already purchased one of their CDs. I listened to them and a little bit of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band before going over to…
The Dead Weather, 6:00ish: Two questions: 1) Is there an instrument that Jack White doesn’t play? 2) What band will he show up with next year? (Although the same could be said for Dave Grohl.) The DW was hard-core compared to The Raconteurs; fun to hear live. I bet the people who’d come over early to claim their Pearl Jam spots were pleased.
Girl Talk/Dan Auerbach, 7:15: I went down to the Girl Talk stage for a couple minutes, but couldn’t get into it. There were people EVERYWHERE, though! The album’s enough for me. I ended up at the picnic tables (under the tables was the only place left in the park with visible grass) to listen to Dan Auerbach. I MUST see him when he comes through town and don’t know how I hadn’t heard any of his stuff before. He was great!
Pearl Jam, 8:00: I met back up with Natalie at Zilker Beach to listen to PJ. After getting over them not opening with Daughter (wouldn’t that guitar intro have been perfect?) I got into it. I did hear Daughter and Jeremy, plus that one song that I can’t understand. Other people under the beach tent were making up their own mumbled choruses, too; it was a nice shared moment.
[Note: The song I can’t understand is Evenflow. I looked it up.]
We met back up with Brooke for supper and a late-night picture-taking tour before calling it a day.
Monday, October 5:
We had breakfast at Dominican Joe’s and took a peep through Uncommon Objects (my fave!) before getting on the road home. Tiffany and I were joined for the ride by Natalie and new pal Joel. Hilarious, hilarious ride home.
This trip: A + +
[Note: For an explanation of the title, check out this and related posts at the ACL blog.]