Every year around the end of September or the beginning of October Austin Texas fills itself up from people all around the region who get together to experience the once a year music festival. Austin City Limits has taken over the city with aftershows in the heart of it all surrounding 6th street through the week and during the weekend of ACL.
It started off on Thursday with a show at the ever popular Stubb’s BBQ, a venue promoted by C3 which is also the ones who run ACL. The night was not still as the action began in the outdoor stager starting with Lee Fields. His enthusiasm was a surprise to the audience as his voice broke the chatter of the days ahead with the band played and Lee Fields took the stage wearing an older styled suit with matching shoes that was a reminder of perhaps James Brown or Charles Bradley. His voice was similar to that of the before mentioned artists but with a small more southern twist to it that exonerates him from being too deep into the category of the standard definition of Soul.
The set then ended and Alabama Shakes took the stage, this time though the band lacked the enthusiasm as Lee Fields guys, but the lead singer, Brittany Howard made up for it all by herself. Her voice echoes and the crowd sang along nearly through the entirety of the set.
It was Friday now and the festival had started with the gates opening at 11. Getting there was not difficult and the parking was not bad if you did not mind the two mile walk of paying around 30 dollars for a more convenient location. Upon arrival the nostalgia of the yester years of the festival all hit at once causing the senses to increase and to be able to hear The Wombats off in the Honda stage playing my favourite track by the band “Techno Fan.” From afar I screamed the lyrics, “I never knew I was a techno fan!”
Following that Los Campesinos! took the Budweiser stage playing a mix of current and older tracks causing the audience to take in the band a whole. The lead singer, Gareth David stood atop of a speaker singing to the crowd. The audience cheered as he continued singing and climbed down the stage and headed toward the fence that divides the audience and jumped it walking amongst the crowd. He walked through and screamed the lyrics as he walked as far as he could with the mic and stood there with fans standing around him.
There was a small glimpse of First Aid Kit, but only two songs which sounded mediocre aps the AMD stage began to crowd up for Delta Spirit. The band played a few songs without much of a response other than a few fans closer to the front. After a greeting to his mother on the side stage and a few more tracks, Matthew Vasquez saw the lack of audience participation and decided to climb the side rafters to nearly the top while screaming to the crowd. People cheered as he then came back down and then grabbed the cartons of water given to him and threw them to the audience. Grabbing the mic with a death grip he said, “Do I have your attention now?” Cheers and applause came like a wave crashing to a shore. As the set ended he grabbed his guitar and threw it behind his back and let it fall giving off a powerful reverb as well as the mix when he threw it to the drum kit.
After a quick lunch break I then was a trip to BMI stage, one of the smaller stages of the festivals. Wild Belle was playing, a band that was also stopping by Houston earlier in the week. The lead singer’s voice was a reflection of a better Amy Whinehouse with a more playful musical tone like that of vampire weekend. The mix sounds a bit irrational but it is difficult to exactly point to one exact influence for this band. It is one which must be heard and then interpreted by the listener because word cannot do it justice.
Upon arriving to the Honda stage once again waiting for A-trak to begin his set, there was a camera crew to the right of the stage by some trailers. At first dismissing it as probably an interview of one of the bands by one of the major media outlets, I come to find out that it is Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender. There were more celebrity spotting throughout the days ahead such as Natalie Portman and Rooney Mara. They were filming a movie in which the scene was Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender arguing with A-trak cutting between them and going on the stage beginning his set. His mix of all of the genres of music made it for an amazing experience and acted as a guide to dance music rather than a mere producer. The mixes of House, EDM, Dubstep, and hip-Hop all faded in perfectly and in synch with the style and theme portrayed by A-trak.
Crossing Zilker Park again we made our way to the Budweiser stage to catch the last show of Florence and the Machine’s US tour. Although her music does not truly resonate to me, he show was astounding, with her being the compassionate artist that she portrays in her music. She would run through the divide that connects the sound booth to the stage, accept gifts from fans, and allow one to be with her on stage. She had much energy and amazing vocals to accompany her live set.
As the crowd left to see other artist, myself and a fellow concert going and family member Eddie made our way through the crowd pushing forward to get a good spot to see the next band. Although I have seen a number of times, it was Eddie’s first time and was his all-time favourite band for many years. As the show began the lights dimmed and The Black Keys took to the stage. The best part of a show knows and singing along with the band, which is what we, did the entire show. Although the band had finally made it big only two years ago they were in a normal day time slot at ACL. They kept true to their more dedicated fans by playing older tracks as well as pleasing the newer fans with playing the standard radio songs. Personally the best part of a show is when the band plays the dedicated fan favourites and only a few people know the lyrics and sing along. This happened from time to time during the hour and a half set. As they neared the end a giant disco ball came down as the played “Everlasting Light.” The set ended with “I Got Mine,” as the crowd rocked to the guitar slashing of Dan Auerbach.