On a very bright and beautiful Saturday morning buses of music lovers barreled toward Zilker Park for the Austin City Limits festival. The day promised great music, glorious weather, and just a few things you might have to see to believe. In the bus seat next to me a hairy-legged hipster attempted to attach a flask to her inner thigh using scotch tape.
At 12:30 the fest was already starting to heat up with Grace Potter And The Nocturnals playing “Hot Summer Night.” Potter, wearing a very short gold sequined dress, took time to comment on her surroundings, saying, “This stage is a lot higher than I thought it would be.” But neither her dress’s length nor her stiletto heels could keep her from rocking out – jumping and headbanging like it was ’94. She thrashed through her set, playing a wooden upright organ, and acoustic and electric guitars, finally ditching her heels and encouraging the crowd to sing along with “Paris (Ooh La La)” and “Medicine.”
01 Paris (Ooh La La) by GPN
Across the park, Bear In Heaven churned out a brand of gauzy Brooklyn guitar rock, straight out of the Grizzly Bear/Dirty Projectors indie garage band catalogue. The band played “Lovesick Teenagers” with the lead singer’s vocals, occasionally resembling Billy Corgan’s. The lead singer enthused, “I hope you fall in love, get married, and have children...today,” with a sort of breezy surfer dude emphasis.
At 2:30 on the main stage, New Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem took a moment to acknowledge their New Jersey-ness before revving into a blistering set of songs including the title tracks of their most recent albums “’59 Sound” and “American Slang.” Lead vocalist Brian Fallon seemed delighted, and also seemed just too sincere to have that many tattoos. Somewhere in the crowd a man emerged dressed from head to toe as a leprechaun.
Back in the middle of the park, clad in vests and ties, noveau Mo-town band Mayer Hawthorne And The County classed up the place doing songs from the Strange Arrangement album, and a cover of The Doobie Brothers’ “What A Fool Believes.” Hawthorne told an anecdote about being asked for an autograph by a man who mistook him for Michael Buble, leading in to the song “Maybe so, maybe no.” In the song’s denouement, Hawthorne mixed in Snoop’s “Beautiful” – something one couldn’t really imagine Michael Buble doing.
At 4:40, UK electro-rocker Dan Black invited the crowd to get weird, and he himself wasted no time in doing so. Wearing white pants, a black and white striped shirt, and with his face painted with red and white stripes, Black and his guitarist worked through “U Me,” “Alone,” and “Symphonies.” At the end two dudes in the crowd exchanged glances and commented, “He was good... but he was weird.”
With James Murphy hinting that his This Is Happening album may be his last, it gave the edge to LCD Soundsystem in the 6pm match-up between them and Monsters Of Folk. Joined by Black Keys’ drummer Patrick Carney (here playing guitar) and a couple other folks, Murphy built the set slowly, with mid-tempo numbers like “Drunk Girls” building into faster numbers like “All I Want” and “I Can Change,” as a disco ball took the place of the setting sun. When Murphy wrapped the set with “Home,” and hundreds of Muse fans began to pour in, home seemed like the perfect place to be.
LCD Soundsystem - All I Want by Ragged Words