ACL Recap From Team ATH

ACL 2015 Banner WE1…with links to all the pics from Weekend Two.

This past weekend, team ATH hit up Zilker Park with a few hundred thousand of our closest friends to catch some live music at what has become one of the most popular music festivals in the country. We were treated to absolutely perfect weather for braving crowds and jamming out without dying of sweat and dehydration. Wether you’re looking to relive, or to decide who should be on your weekend 2 must see list, we’ve got the highlights of weekend 1 for you. Read on for each member of team ATH’s winners and losers and awards of the first weekend of ACL 2015 and see some lovely B.Gray pics.

RayRay: ACL is always a fun time for me and this year was really no different.  This is likely the best run festival in town and they truly treat us press folks like royalty.  Being able to escape the heat for awhile with a free drink and some food makes everyone happier.  Did anyone else think the sound was above and beyond what it’s been in years past?  Even the bands I didn’t like still sounded amazing.

Winners: Albert Hammond Jr. playing some old shit, early bands like Waters & Young Tongues, BMI stage & our friends at High Brew coffee, Tame Impala’s psych rock, Father John Misty and his incredible stage presence, the somewhat cooler temps.

Losers: Chair people.  Chair people always lose.  And people with gigantic ass blankets who get pissed when I walk on them.  The Texas Longhorns.  Lack of a band my parents would want to see.  Some of the hyped up guys like Sturgill just didn’t do it for me.  Sometimes I think with the internets we can get too famous too soon and we don’t yet know how to command such a huge audience.

Nathan: Admittedly, I went in to ACL Festival this year a little lacking in interest. I know the festival grows and changes, but the overall line-up this year just wasn’t up to my expectations. Of course, the ACL folks always treat you well, and the general experience is always pleasant (food, beer, weather, etc), so I can’t really complain too much in the long run. I do hope that next year the line-up works out in my favor, however.

Winners: Tweens/Teens -I really did feel like this was a younger audience, musically speaking. Chance the Rapper, Deadmaus, Twenty One Pilots…all these acts cater to a teen audience, and those kids left loving the experience; it mightn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but you know by the bouncing hands in the crowd that they were having the time of their lives. Austin Ventures Stage-Some years you expect the best sets to hit you from the big stage, but I caught some really great acts on the stage set in the middle of the park: Strand of Oaks, Kurt Vile, UMO and Dwight Yoakam all demonstrated that it’s not the size of the stage, but the quality of the tunes. Father John Misty-I’m not a fan of this guy as a human, but he sure knows how to manage a stage, and bring humorous songs that can please every listener.

Losers: Old People-This in direct contrast to the Winner category, but I feel like other than Dwight Yoakam and Billy Idol, the fest this year didn’t really cater to the Austin music fans who just had an interest in enjoying good tunes they might buy. Sure, the Eagles aren’t my pick, but I feel like the older crowd got left in the dust this year. Hyped Bands-I’ve heard a lot this year about Leon Bridges and Sturgill Simpson. They both have great records to listen to, but live, the substance wasn’t really there. For all the praise on his voice, Leon continues to underwhelm me live…which is weird considering he has a background in theater. Music-This statement will come off with me being a huge dick, but I feel like the line-up this year suffered in bringing music to the masses. By music I mean people actually playing instruments. I work with teenagers for a day job, and every single kid said their favorite act was one of the many that played with little more than an iPod or synthesizer (save a few kids who like the watered down version of DFA1979). I feel bad for them, to have them walk away from a music festival expecting that every show they go to will have a DJ, a singer and little else. Sure, this is my taste, but if you can do stage dives while “playing” your pre-programmed tracks, you’re not really a musician in my book

Nicole: Overall, for the time I was at the festival, I had a pretty good run. Work prevented me from arriving until the late afternoon each day, so frolicking through semi-empty fields was a far off pipe dream, but the band’s I did catch were far from disappointing.

Winners: TV On The Radio, Jose Gonzalez, Kurt Vile and the beautiful weather. Each of these shows were captivating in a different way: TV On The Radio had me howling forever, Jose Gonzalez was mesmerizing and Kurt Vile just did his rock thing.

Losers: The crowds, lack of a renaissance headliner, and those show talkers. Did it feel like Zilker was far past capacity this year to anyone else? I never thought I would miss that token ‘old people band,’ but where was my Stevie Wonder this year? Yea, I know it’s a festival and you’re drunk and otherwise, but there’s gotta be some reason you dropped so much money to stand around in a field, and I highly doubt it was so you could bitch to your friend at a high decibel about your ex’s misbehavior and not watch the band that’s playing in front of you.

B.Gray: This weekend was festing time with friends, both in the bloggerverse and real life. I focused on the social aspect knowing I’d be photoing and running solo for Weekend 2. Damn, was it fun. Aside from communication issues (fix your shit AT&T), the paperless wristband thing is entirely fast and convenient, the food recommendations I made were delicious and my liver was properly punished as I listened to some great and some meh background music. Fianlly, thank you to BMI and HomeAway for the extra hospitality all weekend.

Winners: Man, oh man, that Jose Gonzalez set hit me hard. It was about the best festival set I have seen in some time with hits, covers, obscurities and musicianship. And since Nicole mentioned a nostalgia factor, me and friends closed things out with Dwight Yoakum. Yes, Dwight Yoakum. Real country from a guy from Hollywood? “1000 Miles from Nowhere”, “Fast As You”, both phenomonal examples of genre transcending songs. Billy Idol placed a close second in nostalgia-land, even restarting “Rebel Yell” of screwing up (staged?), twice. Glass Animals far-exceeded expectations. I was reminded of Cut Copy’s evolution as a live band. Solid set where the hit may have been the weakest song. The locals represented early. #ATX #defendredriver

Losers: Foo Fighters sounded pretty rough midfield. It seems to be a continuing issue with ACL healiners on the stage furthest east. Disclosure, a point of curiosity, had this weird thing of guys breaking away from keyboards to play instruments to a track of a collaborator’s vocal. Odd at best and a prime example of my beef with the lineup catering to dance party tweens. Cool lighting, though – I’ll be shooting a few dance parties just for the pretty lights.

Update: Here are the links for the galleries for Weekend Two!!!

Foo on Friday Saturday in the tent... Octoberists

Recommendations: Before we get to the photos from the crowd, here are a few tips for next weekend:

  • Have a mascot. We had Jebediah, the fundamentalist doll on party vacation, and the squirrel head.
  • Take photos with strangers. It is a random memory that will last.
  • Show up early. You can’t discover a band you know. Support the locals.
  • It is a marathon, not a sprint. I don’t want to step in your dried vomit day two.
  • Having someone on your shoulders is the rad fest accessory this year. #necksweat #nextlevel

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