Wednesday, October 16, 2013

ACL Festival 2013: The Aftermath

Alright y'all, it's Wednesday. Everyone else has posted their beautiful photos and they've told you who performed their favorite acts of ACL Fest 2013. I've been working and watching TV. So, let's break it down. This was the first year that ACL was two weekends and the first year that there were no single-day tickets. It was also the first year the festival turned into coitus interruptus transforming downtown into its own rogue off-shoot festival. It was actually pretty great now that I think about.

Kendrick Lamar - Poetic Justice (Explicit) ft. Drake video via YouTube

I posted a Kendrick Lamar video above the break because I feel like for the purposes of a music festival setting he gave the most satisfying performance. Lamar performed with a full band and he was the only person on stage with a microphone. He controlled the massive audience who sang along, participated in call and response and cheered at all the perfect moments and he did all of this with hardly any verbal directives. Kendrick Lamar gave a performance worthy of a headlining spot at any festival. Of course we may have to wait for him to get another album or two under his belt before that happens but his energy, his presence and his overall performance really impressed me.

I think both Depeche Mode and The Cure had great headlining sets. I think The Cure designed a smarter setlist than Depeche Mode but both acts gave spot-on performances. Whenever you see legacy artists there is always the fear that they will be past their prime but that was certainly not the case with either of these bands. When a band plays a festival they have a certain obligation to play their most satisfying songs. In other words, give the people the hits, give them all the hits, give them hit after hit after hit, then play that early song or B-Side that the superfans will orgasm for. Then play the hit that EVERYONE knows the words to. This is the responsibility of the headliner of any music festival. It's a tough gig and not every band can pull it off. First of all, you have to have a lot of hits then you have to be willing to play said hits, even if you are personally sick of them. Depeche Mode's set was largely hits but they mixed in a few ballad-y numbers and/or brand-new stuff that lost the crowd in places. I know it's unfair of me to expect a band to not play new songs but I feel like that's what the club show is for. I know, I know, Depeche Mode are too big for a club show but there is a HUGE band equivalent to the club show, which is the small arena tour. When people are paying specifically to see you at a small arena, play whatever the hell you want but for the festival setting, don't make a setlist just put your greatest hits by your feet and play it from start to finish.

So, can we talk about Sunday now? I went out Saturday night to see Braids at the Mohawk. I had changed and showered and all of that and I got in my car to head downtown. It was already raining pretty hard and as I snaked through downtown all the people I passed looked like deer in a grocery store. Just looking like they didn't know how they got there or where they were going but they knew they wanted to get the fuck outta there. Everyone was hopelessly trying to flag down cabs that were already full of people because they don't know how to fucking tell when a cab is for hire. IT'S NOT HARD TO TELL Y'ALL! So anyway, I found a parking spot a block from the Mohawk, got inside the venue, got my Kindle app open and read on my phone while Braids set-up. At this point, I am pretty much exhausted but when they started (1am) I was re-awoken and SO happy that I decided to see them perform.

On the walk back to my car, I noticed some people taking a photo from the overpass that looks down onto Waller Creek. So, I stopped to check it out and the water was higher than I'd ever seen it. I didn't get home until shortly after 2am and when I fell asleep the plan was to get to the festival as soon as I woke up. Mr. S. woke up before me the next day and started seeing photos of the park on his phone. He showed me the photos as we both contemplated skipping the final day, then we got the notice that the festival had been cancelled. Mr. S. rushed out the kitchen and grabbed a pair of scissors and cut my wristband off before I even got out of bed.

Not gonna lie, after seeing those photos of the park I was psyched they cancelled the last day of the festival. I was tired from the Braids show, I was slightly sunburnt and generally hungover on life. I am "bummed" that I "missed" some of the bands I was hoping to see but since I'm a spoiled twat I've already seen most of the bands I was looking forward to anyway. As a huge Radiohead fan I was looking forward to seeing Atoms for Peace but as a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers hater, I wasn't really interested in seeing Atoms for Peace. As a human being, who lives on Earth, I was looking forward to seeing Lionel Richie but as a person who has lived 31 years without seeing Lionel Richie, I'm ok with it.

Mr. S. was pretty elated that I wasn't dragging him to face the hoarding masses and his first thought was, "Now we can go see PEEPING TOM at the Marchesa!" So, of course we went to a see a British film from 1960 that inspired Psycho. While we were off getting culture in a dark room the hive mind of the city conspired to create a SXSW-esque rogue off-shoot of ACL Fest. It was very exciting and I feel like I took part even though I didn't actually go to any of the shows. We stopped in to shop at End of an Ear and I talked with Dan about all of the pop-up shows I had heard about. Another shopper heard what I was saying and asked for more info, it was weird tweeting to someone's face but it was also really fun. Dan said the store was Record Store Day busy. The restaurant where I work posted some of the highest single shift sales in the company's history. In other words area businesses were flooded with would-be festival goers. Unfortunately, the food vendors who already prepped enough product to feed the festival itself were left holding their proverbial dicks on Sunday.

The biggest pop-up show of the night was Atoms for Peace at ACL-Live, which was streamed live on the ACL Fest YouTube page. People lined-up outside the venue for hours in the hopes of receiving a wristband, which secured entry to the venue. The Mowglis played an acoustic set for fans in the parking lot across the street from the ARCH and encouraged fans to bring donations to the show.

What happened Sunday was a distillation of everything I love about this city. I saw a rare 35MM print of a film, a pop-up music festival happened, loads of people shopped at local businesses, Lionel Richie sang in some rich cunt's living room, someone said "Kale is so over" while shopping at the flagship Whole Foods. This city was everything at once and you still shouldn't move here, unless I can rent out your condo/townhome/duplex in the '04 cheaply. If that's the case, we should talk. Or if you're a celebrity who wants to be my friend. You can move here too, looking at you Elijah Wood.

You can already buy tickets for next year's ACL Festival, which promises to be two weekends again. The real buzz about tickets for next year is the re-availability of single-day passes. Do you think the "Best of the 80's" trend will continue next year? Are their any contemporary acts with enough hits to headline next year? Has anyone really read this far into this post? I'm going to say, yes, no, no and Wilson Phillips.