September 18, 2011
Jack's 2011 ACL Fest Roundup
It was a great ACL Fest this year.
The weather was as good as we could have hoped, given the brutally hot Austin summer we've been living through. It was hot, yes, but it could have been so much hotter. Every day had at least some cloud cover, and every day had some cooling rain. Saturday the drizzle settled in all afternoon -- enough to cool things down, but not enough to turn the park into a mudpit. It was actually 79 degrees at 10pm Saturday, and that is amazing given the last two months of 100+ days.
We enjoyed the yummy food this year, as usual, courtesy of the Austin Eats collective of restaurants. 6 meals over 3 days and all were good: Bess Bistro, Tim Love Burger, Aquarelle (twice), Olivia (Lucy's Fried Chicken), Torchy's, and Stubb's.
But to the most important topic, the music:
- Reptar: an Athens, Georgia based band with a fun mix of styles and creative instrumentation.
- Smith Westerns: from Chicago, an indie rock band with style and substance
- Bright Eyes: Conor Oberst's band continues to take folky indie rock in new directions. Really good stuff.
- Santigold: fun show -- great singing, great presence, fantastic dancers
- The Antlers: Brooklyn-based indie rock and dream pop purveyors. A good way to start the day.
- Phosphorescent: experimental, atmospheric, and just morose enough to make me smile
- Iron & Wine: Austin-based Sam Bean and his band sounded amazing -- what a great songwriter he is.
- My Morning Jacket: they rocked. Hard. It was great. Loved that they brought Preservation Hall Jazz Band on for the last couple of songs.
- Mariachi El Bronx: a punk band playing heart-felt mariachi music, they blew me away, especially Ray Suen's violin virtuosity.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.: uplifting, fun, original, and incredibly talented, this Detroit trio had me smiling and dancing
- Elbow: a really tight rock band from Manchester; front-man Guy Garvey knows how to work a festival crowd
- Fleet Foxes: this Seattle-based indie folk band makes wonderful music -- intricate songs with amazing instrumentation and vocal harmony. Loved it.
- Randy Newman: The man is a genius, a national treasure, and a songwriting god. He was fantastic, despite the sound overlap challenges of performing on the Vista Equity stage.
- Arcade Fire: second time seeing them this year, they were maybe even better on the second go-round. Rockin way to end the fest!