Friday, September 21, 2007

ACL Day Three

Austin TX, Austin City Limits Music Festival
Day Three, 16-SEP-2007

My aunt graciously dropped me off on S. Lamar Blvd. amid all the other concert-goers, depriving me of the joy of riding the Capitol Metro Bus for the third day. In all honesty, I had grown accustomed to the random people I met on the buses, and liked the anonymity of riding. But I digress...

The first issue of the day was to attempt to get some kind of medical attention for a bloody wasp sting that I had acquired the day before. My middle finger had swelled to about twice normal size, and when the only advice I got from the medical tent was: "Well, we can take you to the hospital." I quickly said "No thanks" and turned on my heel. There was no way I was going to miss any of the acts today.

While making my way to the AT&T Blue Room stage for The National, I caught some familiar tunes by Yo La Tengo. I didn't think I'd get there early enough, but I was glad to hear at least a bit of their set. But for me, the stage was setting for The National, a band that has quickly captured my attention in the coming months leading up to ACL. I jockeyed for position amid the growing throng, and sweated along with the rest of them. It was most probably the hottest part of the day, but when the band started up with the beginnings of "Start a War" I swear I had goose bumps; it mattered not that it was in excess of 90 degrees. Drawing exclusively from their last 2 albums, and most heavily from 2007's The Boxer (not that I minded) The National really wowed me for such an early show. I was proud to have been amoung those who caught their set. Matt Berninger's smoky smooth baritone was the perfect way to jump right in to day three here at ACL. It was with some trepidation that I left the crowd early.

photo by: danfun

It turns out that leaving The National early paid huge dividends when it came to seeing Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Having been turned on to their release just a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to find that I had made my way all the way up front, without being a prick about it. I literally walked all the way up front. Grace Potter's sound is an amalgam of rock, blues with a touch of gospel. She and her band really tore up the WaMu tent during their hour-long set. Bonus points: she plays a Gibson Flying V.

photo credit: disheveled

After Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, I made my back over the park to see Lucinda Williams. While milling about, friends from 2 nights before recognized me and I was glad to see some familiar faces for a change. Charlie and Christiana were having some cold white wine, but that didn't really appeal to me since it was so hot... but we chatted about politics and the bands we'd seen while waiting for Ms. Williams to take the stage.

To be honest, I thought her set was uninspired. Having seen her 3 times now, I can make an easier decision to see someone else the next time. But mostly I was glad I was in the vicinity for the next act on the bill: Wilco!

photo by: David Mead

Jeff Tweedy and the band took the stage roughly an hour later, and I had to break away from my friends who wanted to hang back a little farther than I'm used to... so I made my way up closer, but it soon became apparent the crowd was just too compact up front, so I looked for a spot behind some shorter folks, and patiently waited. I met another couple who are stage actors in Austin, Tom and Robin. They were Wilco newbies, and were very excited about seeing them the first time. I shared in their excitement and we chatted a good bit before the show started.

Jeff came onstage sporting a spiffy cowboy hat (which didn't stay on his head long.) They started off the set with "You Are My Face" which is one of my favorites from the new record. They drew deep from their catalog, with songs from 1995's A.M.: "Casino Queen" and "Too Far Apart". The latter, I'm fairly certain I've never heard live before now. And I've seen them 16 times. They also played several choice cuts from the 1996's Being There "Red-Eyed and Blue" >> "I Got You." Probably my 2 favorite songs that run back to back on the album. I was glad that Tom and Robin were treated to a good mix of old and new. It brought joy to me to see them so happy and full of enthusiasm at seeing them for the first time. Afterwards, I bid them farewell to them, but not before exchanging information.

Next up: Bob Dylan.

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