Sunday, October 14, 2012

ACL 2012 Day 2: Wrap Up

We woke up early Saturday to see the first act on the Honda Stage, Caveman. I am a huge fan of theirs and was excited to see them perform on such a large stage. The sky was overcast and ominous but the rain only appeared as a slight and occasional mist and the overcase skies were a pleasant repris from the glaring sun of the first day. Caveman were superb, the sound mix was excellent, their performance was top-notch and they even played 3 songs from a record to be released early next spring. They even attracted a fairly size-able crowd many of whom became new fans.

Caveman - Vampirer/Old Friend video via YouTube

After Caveman we headed over to the Austin Eats area to get some food before things got too crazy. We ran into a friend and filled up on some great local food, I opted for Chi'lantro while Mr. S. had his favorite P. Terry burger. Once we were full-up on food and sitting we ventured back to the Honda Stage for Zola Jesus.

We arrived just in time to see her walk on the stage dressed in gray tights, with something that looked sort of like a gray Star Trek uniform on top. Her hair was dyed blonde with her dark roots showing and her voice was as big as the festival itself. Her band consisted of a violinist, a bassist and someone on electronics. She stalked the stage with a wireless microphone and each time she opened her mouth I was shocked at the power of her voice. She is a small woman with a very big sound inside of her. The size of the crowd, proved how impressive her performance was. Toward the end of her set, she climbed down from the stage, over the barricade and into the crowd singing all the while. You can see my cell-phone photo of her emerging from the crowd at the top of this post.

We hustled it over to the other side of the park after Zola to catch Rufus Wainwright. Initially, I intended to listen to Rufus for about 15 minutes before heading over to the BMI stage for Gardens & Villa but this did not happen. Rufus came out wearing an over-the-top, colored Zebra striped suit with no shirt underneath. He performed the first song completely a capella and the huge crowd was totally silent for the duration of it. I was so completely impressed with Rufus Wainwright's performance that I could not bring myself to leave until he was completely finished. I feel bad that I didn't get to see Gardens & Villa but I feel confident that they will be back sooner than Rufus Wainwright and that their next Austin show will be a cheaper ticket than Rufus'. In the end, it ended up being my favorite set of the day.

We walked over to the adjacent east-side stage after Rufus to catch a high-energy set from Oberhofer. I was both surprised and impressed to see how many people were there to see their performance. They never disappoint in the live setting, jumping around the stage flailing their instruments and bursting with enthusiasm. They reminded the crowd of who they are several times, even spelling their name at one point. I always think that's a good idea at an event like ACl Fest.

We took a bit of break after Oberhofer to hang out in the media area with Caveman and catch up with friends. We were excited to see James Mercer as well as Steve Earle back stage and it was nice to get some booze and seats before heading back in to the park.

Our next act of the day was Michael Kiwanuka. He has a lot of buzz and has achieved pretty massive success overseas. I tweeted that I thought his was the breakout set of the festival, which caused Side One Track One to laugh at me but I stand by that statement. Sure, he is already well-known by a lot of people who pay attention to the music scene and he is fawned over by industry wonks and people in England but to the larger American audience he is an unknown. I have been calling him the new Adele because she was known in the U.S. when her first record came out and Chasing Pavements was on the radio but she wasn't a household name until her second record was released. I think it will take Michael Kiwanuka another year or two before he is a household name but it will happen.

Toward the end of Michael Kiwanuka's set the sky opened up and dumped some serious rain onto the festival. Many people cheered as the torrential downpour started, Mr. S. and I were not those people. Large swaths of the festival grounds instantly turned to mud making traversing the festival even more difficult than usual. Our plan was to head toward the Bud Light stage for The Roots however, with the rain and the mud we looked at each other and decided to watch them from our couch on the YouTube stream.

I know, I know rain is all a part of the experience and a festival is all about the communal blah blah blah, I live ten minutes from the park and I was perfectly pleased to hook the computer up to the television and watch the rest of the festival in my underwear while eating delivered pizza. Also, the benefit of watching the webcast is we got to see full sets from both The Shins and The Roots who were performing at the same time on opposite sides of the park in real life.

I think The Shins created a great set list for a festival, front-loading with their most popular and recognized hits, peppering in album tracks from their latest release. Their performance itself seemed a bit stilted to me but they still delivered. My perspective on The Shins is a bit tainted though because I can't get over James Mercer firing the real band and replacing them but still calling the band The Shins. I know this happens all the time in the music business but for some reason it really bothered me with The Shins. I just feel like he could have toured and recorded as James Mercer and it would have been less offensive. I saw the real The Shins at the Backyard in 2007 and in my memory they were better musicians than the current set of hired hands.

We watched 30 minutes of Bassnectar after The Shins and the crowd looked INSANE. I have seen Bassnectar a couple of times and he is always really impressive. In fact, the first time I ever saw him perform he was part of a line-up that included A-Trak and Calvin Harris and he impressed me the most. I had no idea who he was and I had ask people in the audience who it was because I was so blown away. Judging by the sea of waving hands and people jumping up and down that feeling was felt by many at Zilker Park yesterday.

The Roots set was full of all of their classics but the band actually opened by playing a tribute to The Beastie Boys' MCA in the form of Paul Revere. They proved that they are not your typical hip-hop artists with a performance that was closer to Jazz than rap. They had the crowd in the palms of their hands and they were the first act of the weekend to go over their allotted time.

For the conclusion of the night we flipped back and forth between Jack White and Neil Young. I know that Neil Young is a legend and that it was a welcome opportunity to see him perform, I feel like compared to Jack White he was seriously lacking in energy. He delivered his hits and even performed with Crazy Horse but it was just not for me. I think it was a silly move to have Jack White and Neil Young play against each other in the first place. I really think it should have been Jack White vs. Red Hot Chili Peppers on Saturday and then Neil Young on Sunday night to close the weekend. However, for all I know he has another date scheduled that would have precluded this scenario from being possible.

So there you have it my day 2 in a nutshell.