Austin City Limits Festival
Here’s what i did today --
Patty Griffin, Jamie Lidell, Vampire Weekend, M Ward, Jenny Lewis, Delta Spirit, David Byrne and Alejandro Escovedo! All in day one at the Austin City Limits music fest in Austin.
The festival is a music lover’s dream, with a broad, nearly complete lineup (they’re missing Gomez, Lucinda and Radiohead to be perfect for me), held in a great town, with easy access to and from the festival grounds.
The midday Texas sun can be brutal and the shuttle bus lines daunting but that’s as bad as it gets. With over 100 bands on 8 stages, this is the perfect setting for my restless, wandering spirit and big ol’ appetite for music.
I did stay put tho for the entire David Byrne set on the big stage in the sunset glow. The show was a stylized, sophisticated, groove-rich production that was a dream for any old Talking Heads fan. I was a happy girl. The set opened with “Strange Overtones” from the new album and then out popped the BEST dancers for “I Zimbra” from Fear of Music. Byrne and company were dressed in all white, creating a certain space age Clockwork Orange look (although my friend Janeen said Byrne looked like a cricket player). The dancers complemented each song, often evoking meaning beyond the music - no easy feat!
The funniest moment was during “Once in Lifetime” - the dancers comically did the infamous karate chop move. Byrne held the center stage on guitar and in great voice, especially on the new material, which can be vocally demanding. Background singers added to a gospel, big sound.
My only wish was that the new songs were more well known, as they are worthy of being sung along with, just like past anthemic lines like “this ain’t no party, this aint no disco.” Byrne is not necessarily regarded as a protest songwriter but i was surely feeling that, especially since this was the big debate night. Patty Griffin had her own take on that with a great live performance of “No Bad News,” but for Byrne it was “One Fine Day,” filling us with hope - or at least reminding us to think as we dance.
Jenny Lewis may be the voice and figure of a generation. An adoring crowd greeted her at the WaMu stage (or is that the FDIC stage). Funny that there was still free beer backstage here. Anyway, I love her new album with its minor chords and twang - no surprise to hear her cover “Love Hurts.” Plus you gotta love her hot pants. While i got lost in the mostly young, female crowd I was reminded of the artists i adored back in the day, like Chrissie Hynde or Deb Harry.
I have a feeling Jenny Lewis will be around making a mark for a long time. And hopefully she’ll age with more kindness and grace than Chrissie seems to (ask me about that someday). More later...