Top Ten ACL Bands

Well, it’s taken us a few days to get over our various illnesses, hangovers, bruised ribs, and what have you, but we’ve compiled our list of who we thought did the best job at ACL this year.  For me, I feel sort of underwhelmed by the whole event, but I know I caught some good stuff. Read on for our list.

10. Santigold

You know, I don’t think we really expected to dig her set.  I mean, she has a couple of club-bangers, so that’s cool, but she had a great bit of energy, not to mention the fact that I really think her organization of the stage show was fitting.  Probably one of the most interesting, visually speaking.

9. Death From Above 1979

First, I love this band.  Second, I think their set was a little bit disappointing, though still better than almost everything else out there.  There were no standing on drum kits like the old days.  They just looked, disinterested? I don’t know, but the energy behind the music still did a sufficient job of lifting up my spirits.

8. Kanye  West

I may or may not have been drinking mass quantities of the Devil’s Cut at this point, but for one man, he sure can take control of a large stage, and a large audience.  Perhaps that’s why his ego is so huge; he’s like a rap dictator of sorts. It was fun; it was what you expected; it was Kanye.

7. Cut Copy

We’ve seen these guys several times over the last few months, so of course we dig what they’re doing.  They’ve got a great vibe for those in need of electronic sounds to move them, and they managed to not seem infinitely small on that larger than life stage.  Really, they’re like the cowbell, you can always use a little more.

6. Telekinesis

M. Lerner was one of my personally most anticipated acts, and I’m so grateful that I got the chance to see him and his band.  It was one of the few sets I caught on the Google+ stage (formerly the Dell) that actually sounded incredible.  His energy, and that of touring guitarist Cody really made us wake up early in the morning, so we were pleased that they pulled of such an excellent set.

5. The Antlers

No one is ever going to accuse the Antlers of being the world’s most exciting band, but dammit if they didn’t just sound absolutely incredible.  Hats off to their sound guy, who we chilled with back stage for a bit, as he did a great job of bringing their intimate feel to such a huge stage. Had they played at night, with a breeze, this would have been my number one.

4. Fool’s Gold

Whil RayRay definitely missed himself some Foreign Born, the California funkiness of Fool’s Gold more than made up for the band’s recent disbanding.  Similar guitar sounds, and just a spritely energy from every member made this a compelling show. I only wish more people were there to enjoy it, as it was easily one of the best acts on that tiny Austin Ventures Stage.

3. The Cave Singers

We can’t really go on much more raving about this band. I’ve loved them ever since they burst on to the scene, and of the handful of times I’ve seen them, they never seemed to sound as good, nor enjoy themselves, as they did at ACL.  Once the third song kicked in, the crowd was all theirs, and they rocked it all night long.

2. Elbow

This is a band that the US has not yet embraced. Elbow’s front man did his best; Guy Garvey was on point vocally and very charming,offering up the most between song banter and one-liners of any band this year. Veterans of big festivals with lousy weather, he joked about the lowering of banners with the threat of wind, dropping to the stage as the screens lowered, as if he was a captain going down with the ship. The set’s highlights came off of Seldom Seen Kid with Mirrorball, One Day Like This and Grounds for Divorce, the last featuring a rain song sing-along intro morphing into the vocal hook.But the best performance was from their latest – The Birds – amazing vocal, amazing musicianship.

1. The Walkmen

Hamilton was endearing and dressed to kill. He was appreciative of the crowd, and we were appreciative of them.  At one point, we tried to reflect upon bands of the decade, based solely on the always memorable and moving performance the band gives.  Hamilton’s vocals sounded amazing, even when he went to that throaty pitch he’s long since abandoned. If every band at ACL sounded or played as well as The Walkmen, I think the festival would have been hugely memorable, but sadly, no one, in our mind, compared to these indie rock vets.

What did you enjoy?  Or how much did you love Skrillex? And yes, I left off Arcade Fire–no big deal, saw the Grammy’s. Leave us your thoughts.


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