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Music Editor Survives Hot, Hot Sun, Big, Big Crowds At Austin City Limits Music Festival! Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 October 2006
Article Index
Music Editor Survives Hot, Hot Sun, Big, Big Crowds At Austin City Limits Music Festival!
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** THE 52 **


Beto & The Fairlanes
Great start! Nine-piece, local legends, Latin-swing-fun band, everybody mambo!, lotsa horns, trumpet player can shatter windows, played ACL TV show first year, 1975, so popular they’ve been signed to open ACL fest every year … forever.

Asleep At The Wheel
Also 30-year veterans who epitomize their slice of the Austin scene, no matter what the ever-changing lineup surrounding Ray Benson, they’ve still got it, got a new album, a killer young piano pounder and a terrific new singer Elizabeth. They just keep doin’ their Western swing thing, better than just about anybody.

Terri Hendrix
Tremendous singer/guitar slinger/harp blower and stage presence, great energy, been around 10 years but still an Austin secret, this lady can rock (and blues and country), and had pedal legend Lloyd Maines on guitar to make it oh so sweet.

Nothing special.

Streets To Nowhere
Pretty much.

Ted Leo + Pharmacists
NJ rock trio, big noise that did nothing for me. Guitar, songs – good. Funny moment: former Chisel-er Ted was making some very brief remarks between songs, then said “I’m gonna stop talking and play ‘cause …” when a very loud voice from the crowd cut him off with “shut up!”

Very interesting. Black guy vocalist, two female keyboards with good interaction, guitar sometimes smoked it.

Pulled a big crowd. Too full of themselves.

Joy Davis
Asked the crowd, “Are you ready to rock?!! – then didn’t.

Deadboy & The Elephantmen
All right, finally, someone to get the juices going. Dax Riggs is a charismatic, passionate singer and fierce guitar player, and Tessie Brunet, the other half of the band (they were supplemented by a bass player), tape on her fingers and tats on her wrists, just mother wails on drums, and if you believe their web site she took up the skins less than two years ago. It will be hard to watch the Meg half of the White Stripes after this.

Gospel Silvertones
Three male singers, one female … good.

Pop, okay.

Wolf Parade
Spacey with wild keyboards, kicked, stood upon, yelped and yodeled, dripping charisma.

Nickel Creek
Okay, give them another chance to change my notion that they have legions of young fans who think they’re the cat’s shit only because they’ve never heard real bluegrass before. Yes, Chris Thile’s a helluva mandolin player, and I guess he would make my top 10 list (if I can think of 10), and I guess to some small degree he has brought other genre flavors into Nickel Creek’s music, but I’ve always felt his star talent is his cuteness, and now I discover another crucial element: it’s the way he handles that little stringed thing. He plays it like a guitar. The way he beats it, and waves it around and doubles over it. He plays it like a rock god would, and no other mandolin players (with the looks to pull it off) do. Got it. No big deal. Move on.

Danielia Cotton
A funny thing happened on my way to Gnarls Barkley. I missed them, because I passed by this lady’s stage and couldn’t tear myself away. I wasn’t the only one, as her crowd grew more and more sizable as her set progressed. With her kick-ass Pistoleros, a shaved-headed black bass player and two white guys looking like a preppy guitar wizard and a wild black-and-red-mohawked drummer, Daniela’s visuals are great but her music’s even better. Compared to Janis Joplin and Tina Turner, valid touchstones, in fact she’s unique and just one hellfire of a vocalist. I don’t think I’ve ever before seen a black woman who’s so purely a rock singer … including Tina. She ended with a cover she said she’s becoming known for, though she’s never recorded it, and there’s not an AC/DC fan alive who wouldn’t stand up and cheer for her “Back in Black.” You better record it, Danielia – I can’t wait to relive that moment.

Okkervil River
Young local faves, alt rock with a pedal steel and a singer trying way too hard to be righteously anguished. It’s just hard to sing when you’re doubled over with the weight of the world. They got a big hand – but everyone did. Fans. Those who don’t dig you move on.

Knew the hype, was hoping to be converted because there was something I had missed. Wasn’t. Didn’t.

Del Castillo
Eureka! moment #2. They were on the one stage that was in a tent, with chairs and bleachers, so it was the hardest to see and hear if you hadn’t staked a place early, and was totally packed for yet another local band of repute. My biggest regret of the weekend was getting to witness only a couple songs from these guys. I read raves after the fact in several papers about the magic of their fraternal guitar duo, but didn’t notice them as much as I might have because I was so riveted by their very tall, lanky, prowling singer who had Rock God written all over his bare chest (with vest). I have never before been so captured by a band who didn’t sing a word in my native language. No, not even Sigur Ros. Or REM.

Cat Power & The Memphis Rhythm Band
How can anyone in their right mind dig this woman? I’ve always been aware of her fanatic following but never investigated her recordings, and figured this was a great chance to see what she was all about. And did I ever. She’s psycho. No, that gives her too much credit. What she is, is way, way too neurotic to be a performer (yes, it’s possible), but apparently as bereft of respect for her deluded fans as she is for herself. She continues to trot out her not even pathetic but stupid and abusive little drama on stage where she’s surrounded by slavering fans who anticipate a meltdown and probably would not go home happy if it didn’t happen. Straps on guitar and asks, Should I play guitar on this next number? No, I think piano. Takes off guitar, walks to piano, sits down. Noodles. Looks confused. Goes back to mike and straps on guitar again. Strums a little. Do you really want me to play piano? Yes, yes, yes!! Moves back over. Can you hear the piano? Is there anything at all I can do on stage that will make you not love me? No, no, no! I’ve seen eccentric performers before, saw Van Morrison storm off a stage for stupid reasons then come back to rock like the world was going to end, but there’s a crucial difference. There is much indulgence for genius, but I caught enough of Cat Power actually performing to know that she’s not so special, and certainly, absolutely, not worth putting up with the kind of juvenile sympathy/endearment ploys I witnessed, for the not extraordinary talent she has to offer. The next time I run into a Cat Power fan who tells me they’ve seen her live, and are still a fan, I will very quickly run away.

Los Lonely Boys
Competent but not exceptional rock and roll, a great bar band but I don’t understand what has driven them to such heights of recognition. They drew a huge crowd – with Thievery Corporation competing on another stage.

Trish Murphy
Another striking blonde with pretty good country songs.

Van Morrison
The young hip crowd went nuts for this grand old man of rock, for all the right reasons. I was actually slightly disappointed because despite the privilege of once again hearing this master stylist and being close enough to see him better in the flesh than on the big screen, as excellent as it all was, I had seen close versions of this show a couple of times before, and had hoped for something unusual. But you can’t possibly walk away from a great Van Morrison show where he played harp and sax and ended with “Wild Night,” “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Gloria” with anything but a big grin plastered on your face.


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