ACL 2010 Music Festival In the Park

Written by on October 28, 2010 in Live Reviews, October 28, 2010 - Comments Off on ACL 2010 Music Festival In the Park

Review and photos by: Scott Moore

ACL 2010 Music FestivalWith the excitement of a child being dropped off at Disney Land, I rushed to the main gates of the 9th annual Austin City Limits Music Festival being held in beautiful Zilker Park in the heart of downtown Austin, Texas.  The festival, which started in 2002, had been affected by Austin’s unpredictable weather on several occasions.  In 2005 the temperatures reached 108 degrees during the fest.  The 2008 fest was labeled “The Dust Bowl” due to a constant wind which blew across the dusty park lawn, dried out by the scorching temperatures of that summer.  In 2009 the fest became “The Mud Pit” due to a sudden downpour that saturated the “lawn” and turned the park into a mush of mud and dried grass. Much work was done to “The Great Lawn” prior to ACL 2010 in hopes of avoiding the problems of the past and making this fest the best ever.  With ideal early fall temperatures running in the mid 70’s to the low 90’s each day, the 3-day forecast promised beautiful sunshine and clear blue skies as 130 bands from around the world took to the eight stages to entertain us with their variety of sounds.

This year’s headliners included The Stokes, Phish, Spoon, M.I.A., Muse, The Flaming Lips, and The Eagles although many attendees came for the possibility of discovering a band before unknown to them.  With all of the great acts included this year, no one would leave disappointed.

Day 1 ACL 2010

ACL 2010 Music FestivalEarly in the day, Asleep at the Wheel took ownership of the AMD Stage, one of the largest this year, nestled in the far west quadrants of the park.  Opening with “Route 66” and “Miles and Miles of Texas”, Ray Benson, lead singer and guitarist, gave a hearty “Welcome to ACL 2010” in his southern baritone cry to the hungry crowd hugging the stage.

Next up, on the Budweiser Stage, which was an easy jaunt of about ¼ of a mile to the east side of the park, was JJ Grey & Mofro featuring Grey’s soulful country sound reminiscent of his backwoods home near Jacksonville, FL.  With a love and passion of storytelling, Grey entertained the crowd with a good hour of southern musical stories such as “Hottest Spot in Hell” and “Georgia Warhouse”.

Other bands that filled the lazy Friday afternoon included Blues Travelers from Princeton, NJ, and Austin’s own Carolyn Wonderland, with her Janis Joplin sound and demeanor, taking the Clear 4G Stage.  As the afternoon progressed, familiar bands The Black Keys, The Band of Horses, Spoon, Sonic Youth, and, of course, Slightly Stupid primed the stages and geared up the eager crowd for Vampire Weekend, The Stocks, and Phish which ended the evening with an electric light show against the Austin skyline.

Day 2 ACL 2010

Grace PotterWith a scrumptious breakfast taco and steaming cup of coffee in hand, I awaited the opening of day 2 of ACL 2010.  Zilker Park awoke with a stampede of footsteps, the whirl of bicycles, and the clinking of pedicab bells as the many attendees were dropped off by friends who were not fortunate enough to have a ticket to the festival or who had lovingly given up their prized ticket to a lucky music loving friend so that they could attend the sold out music extravaganza.

Starting my day with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals on the AMD Stage seemed like a great idea and this was quickly confirmed with Grace dancing around the stage in her sparkling gold mini skirt. Thrashing her golden locks to a strong beat and rhythm, Grace performed several numbers including “Hot Summer Nights”, Goodbye Kiss”, and Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”.

On the Austin Kiddie Limits Stage presented by HEB, Tom Freund and friends sang to children of all ages.  With contagious smiles on their faces, Freund’s group pranced around the stage with balloons, and adorned with feathers and bright colors.

Pete Yorn, who was unable to attend the Pixies show last month at the Austin Music Hall but has recently recorded a new album with Frank Black in Salem, Oregon, graced the Honda Stage with his 2nd performance over the past 3 years.

The Gaslight Anthem, Black Lips, The Temper Trap, and LCD Soundsystem kept the day rocking and the stages packed until dusk.

With the coolness of evening setting in, the crowd had a renewed burst of energy and were pumped for Deadmau5, M.I.A., and Muse with their electrifying sounds and outstanding light show.

Day 3 ACL 2010

The Flaming LipsFeeling a little sad that Day 3 would go by so quickly and ACL 2010 would only be a memory, I quickly made my way to the familiar main gates that reminded me of a circus entrance.  I kept wondering when I would see a lion or tiger approach or maybe even a ringmaster, with his grand smile, welcoming the audience.

Ruby Jane, Warpaint, and White Rabbits opened the day. The Honda stage was rocked by the UK’s, Foals, a five man group led by Yannis Philippakis, on vocals and guitar, who recently released their second album, Total Life Forever.

Portugal. The Man took their place on the Budweiser Stage midafternoon.  This group, founded by John Gourley, who merged with Zach Carothers from Alaska, formed this Indie/Pop, Zepplin sounding,  party of 4.  These guys actually live in the same “la casa” so they don’t have to travel far to practice and no excuses for tardiness will be found for any event.  Taking to the stage at 2 PM shape, the band kept all eyes focused on their act with their talented vocals and keyboard, and killer guitar.

The Morning Benders, Yeasayer, Robert Earl Keen, Switchfoot, and Band of Horses, among many others, kept the beat to the afternoon sun. Like a well-tuned clock, all of the acts took to the stage at the precise scheduled time.

M.I.A.YeasayerThe Temper TrapThe Jane ShermansThe Gaslight AnthemRebelutionPete YornMuseGrace PotterDeadmau5ACL 2010 Music Festival

With earlier thoughts of circus animals under the big top, the crowd, which had grown to 60,000 plus, was met by The Flaming Lips, with lead singer and ringmaster Wayne Coyne. As Wayne took the AMD Stage the excited crowd asked the question “Will Wayne surf the crowd with his Big Bubble?”  The answer—-YES!  Wayne informed the crowd that he is surfing stage right first but that he also loves stage left and will give this portion of the crowd his love as well.  The Flaming Lips played many of their favorites including “The Fear”, “Worm Mountain”, and, of course, “She Doesn’t Use Jelly”.  To justify my earlier thoughts, circus animals were included and, as “Silver Trembling Hands” played, a 7 foot tall “bear” came out and gave Wayne the ride of his life.

The Eagles were the final act to grace the stages of ACL 2010.  With the welcoming of Glenn Frey, longtime friends and bandmates Don Hendly, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit took to the Budweiser Stage.  Opening with “Seven Bridges Road”, “Take it to the Limit”, and the legendary “Hotel California”, The Eagles, who have been going strong since 1973, closed Austin City Limits 2010 with “Desperado”.

Thanks goes out to all who made this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival the best ACL yet.  Promoters C3 of Austin and Fresh and Clean Media of Los Angeles, YOU ROCK!