ATH & ACL 2018: A Weekend One Recap
As you likely know, many of your faithful ATH crew members ventured out this weekend to take part in this thing called Austin City Limits Festival. Have you heard of it? It’s kind of a big deal. As always, the festival was run smooth like a baby’s bottom and a good time was had by all. Part of what we do to earn our keep is to offer opinions on the music side of things and overall thoughts/concerns from the weekend. Each member of the team who attended this weekend will share their own opinions.
Follow the jump for more from me and Nicole with a little gallery from around the grounds by bgray.
Alvvays – If anyone thought this group might have lost a step or two with their sophomore album, you are wrong. The new stuff is great live and the old hits are still bangers.
The National – The band clearly looked a little uncomfortable playing in the sun, but they still managed to pour their heart and soul into this performance. Matt Berninger has an incredible way of drawing people in with all of his emotions and feelings coming out seemingly all at once. Also huge shout out to the guys for dedicating “Mr. November” to Beto and mentioning support of Julie Oliver.
David Bryne – His live show is a sheer beauty of choreography. It’s just as lovely to look at as it is to listen to.
Metallica – After some sound issues during the prior set, all were worried that Metallica might refuse to even play. They played and they killed. All the hits. Plus, I never knew these guys could be so gracious after years of having the D-bag label. The tribute to SRV was also a nice touch.
Shame – We caught these guys during SXSW and were all blown away by the massive amount of energy brought to the performance. Though it was early, and hot as all, the guys delivered again. They will be a household name soon.
Honorables: Sharon Van Etten, Weather Station, Wilderado
Biggest Let Down: The sound during the Deftones set was so incredibly painful. Not sure if it was the band or sound engineers, but man this was hard to watch. Things improved a bit after the band walked off halfway through the set.
Takeaways & Thoughts: This was hands down the most political themed ACL I’ve ever attended, rightfully so. It’s funny to think those who possess a creative mind and spirit support true progress in this country and in our state. A very clear message was sent by all bands; a message of love, hope and togetherness. As previously mentioned, many groups offered their support for Texas politicians though they won’t even hold a card to vote in November and we all appreciate your their efforts. It seems like last year we were all in a bit of shock, and now we are all ready to heal and mend with music being a true unifying factor. Also, major props to all of the engineers, planners, and PR people who truly have a thankless job. We love you. VOTE
St. Vincent – I’ve seen Annie Clark in the form of St. Vincent three times prior to this evening, but this was by far the best iteration I’ve seen her music take in the live setting. After a disappointing solo set at the Moody a few months back, perhaps my standards were lowered, but she brought the lights, the supporting looping images, and, most importantly, the hits. “Fast Slow Disco” is just a track that begs to be heard live.
Phoenix – It says a lot when you’re a last minute addition to a festival and you knock it out of the park. I just saw this band last Wednesday at Stubb’s playing an almost identical set and would gladly see them do it again right now. These french men have the ability to harness the energy of a crowd almost instantly, and they do so with their stacked catalogue of hits, which make up most of their set. A friend of mine who knew maybe one of their songs thanked me endlessly for forcing him to attend their show and was completely invested in the set. If that’s not the sign of a great live show, then I’m not sure what is.
Sharon Van Etten – This was Sharon Van Etten’s first live show with a band in a long time–she said so herself, but she managed to avoid any rustiness by opening with a slew of brand new tracks from her upcoming album. Her voice is pure power and the shade of the Barton Springs stage in the early evening was the perfect sun setting companion. SVE forever.
A. Monkeys – I wasn’t a big fan of the latest release from Arctic Monkeys, but these english boys brought it down on Sunday night. There was never a lull in the set, and the new tracks had more life in a live setting. We even got “Do Me A Favour!!”
David Bryne – I got to hear “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody),” “Once In a Lifetime,” “Road To Nowhere” and “Burning Down The House” live. And it was every bit as great as I imagined it would be. I can’t say enough about how great his performance was. A true showman through and through.
Honorable mentions: The National, Alvvays, Amen Dunes
Underwhelming Set: I wanted this set to be so much more–but Twin Shadow’s set was just kind of off. With a storm blowing through, the crowd, very sparse for the early slot on the biggest stage, was very distracted and low energy. Some songs felt right, but others were lackluster and the lyrics were…not entirely there.
Takeaways & Thoughts: This was the most fun I’ve had at ACL in a long time. The lineup was stacked, downtime was minimal, and the new stage arrangements/expansion from a few years back has payed off big time. I’m with RayRay on the political front, but then again, these are extremely political times and it’s important to get the word out (please vote, please)! But I was happy for the distraction from negative news. Crowds were devoid from assholes and garbage people, but perhaps they were just all at the sets I didn’t go to, ha. It was a great weekend, and I’ll be jealous of the folks going to another weekend of fun.
Bands-wise, they about covered it. The fest felt efficient and there wasn’t ever an insane line for beer, coming or going. We dodged the nasty weather just miles east or west. Next weekend I take all the photos, so be ready for galleries and more thoughts on specific artists. If you are just as tall as everyone else, don’t use a step stool. The Revolution was pretty rad, but when it comes to the guitar solo or that iconic lyric, we really miss Prince. Andrew has a boner.