Friday, September 15, 2006

Austin City Limits: Day 1

It's been a long day, and it's so rare that I get to make completely original posts that I'm going to dedicate these three posts to my experience at ACL. Plus, I'm just too exhausted to scour the Net for news. Let me start out here with some pictures:

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After taking the bus downtown and battling traffic, I waited with my friend's mom at Which Wich for my friend to arrive, and there was a great view of the Frost Tower from there so I couldn't resist.

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When we walked in and I could see the Downtown skyline I knew that I had to get a picture of it. It's no NYC skyline, but I still like it.

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I was trying to give an idea of how many people are there when you turn in any direction, but I'll try to look for better shots of this tomorrow.

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I love these big lanterns they have scattered around, and this is one of the larger ones in a central spot. I thought it was definitely picture worthy.

I didn't get any other good pictures because we were only there for a few hours as it was. and only saw a couple of bands in that timespan. When we first got there we had to debate between Thievery Corporation and Los Lonely Boys since we had already missed Gnarls Barkley, and we chose Thievery Corporation since Los Lonely Boys were at the AMD stage, which was facing the sun. Thievery Corporation was pretty decent, but it was only good for people in our situation who were ready to just sit in the back and listen and just relax. I saw people reading magazines and stuff, too, which makes sense given that the music was all instrumental. I think it's great music to have on while like doing homework, and the dancer they had up there for a few of their songs was kind of cool, but not much else to praise them for other than that. I guess it's hard to get excited when you're not even singing in your songs. We left a little early from this show since they were at the AT&T stage, which was on the opposite side from AMD, where Jon Mayer would be playing an hour later.

When we got back there we ended up catching Los Lonely Boys in the middle of "Heaven" and after they played their last couple of songs a lot of people ended up leaving, so we go further up for pretty decent seats for John Mayer, though we weren't aiming to be at the very front or anything since I was just interesting in hearing more of his music and my friend, though a fan of his, doesn't like what his success has made him, so she was almost loath to see him live again (she's seen him twice before). We knew he came on stage by the high-pitched squeals of chicks near the front, and I almost didn't recognize him because of what almost looked like a Jew fro (not sure what the PC term for that would be, but it's what many Jewish men can grow out that looks like a fro except that its a little fluffier and is usually brownish). My friend was tempting to take to him with scissors, but I managed to hold her back.

I think it's notable that there was a nice breeze at this point and so it couldn't have been any more than the mid 80s, which was a welcome relief from earlier. The trek to Zilker from Downtown is not a short one (at least a couple of miles, I'd say), and the heat doesn't help things. Last year, the night didn't bring much relief weather wise, but it seems to be doing the trick this year. I was quite pleased with his show and loved the riffs on songs I hadn't heard before, which is a big deal because it's harder for me to enjoy songs live that I've never heard before. He definitely tried to bring energy to his show, though it didn't reflect much on his audience, which I suspect was because they were all tired from being out there all day. In any case, I liked that he put forth the effort, and he played all his most popular singles, including "No Such Thing" as one of the two encore songs, as well as several songs off his new album it seemed, naturally. The set was actually over an hour (probably close to 75 minutes or so), and so I was also glad that he didn't skimp on the time or try to skip out early. Not even Coldplay did an encore last year, so I thought it was cool for him to do it. He also tried to give a lot of props to his band, which was good because they definitely had some talent (including Austin's own JJ Johnson on the drums). The instruments were all just fantastic and his voice was pretty much what you'd expect out of it. He didn't go out of his way to make the songs unique from the album versions, but he did what he could here and there (minor lyric changes, extended improv riffs), so it was still fun to watch (especially while sitting out in that breeze).

We left in the middle of his last song to check out the end of Van Morrison's set, who was competing with John Mayer, which I didn't care much for since they played oldies and they seemed to be much softer and slightly less energetic, though they were older people. The people in the crowd at the front seemed to be really into it though, and at least they played "Brown-eyed Girl."

All in all, I'm kind of glad I didn't sell my ticket this year. I think that I'll have fun even though my favorite bands won't be playing. Tomorrow, I'm aiming for Ben Kweller, Nada Surf, The Shins, Aimee Mann, The Raconteurs, What Made Milwaukee Famous, String Cheese Incident (maybe, but probably not in the end), Explosions in the Sky, Willie Nelson, and quite possibly Massive Attack. Check back tomorrow night (or maybe early Sunday morning) for the skinny on my perspective of day 2 of this insane music festival.

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