Every October, I get to live vicariously through my dear friend/Oiselle teammate, Ashley F., who makes her way over to TX for the Austin City Limits (ACL) music festival. Ashley loves music as much if not more than I do and since I, myself, don't get to go (yes, I'm jealous) I am more than happy to hand the RWM floor over to her so she can give us the low down. Take it away, Ash!
So happy to be back guest blogging for one of my favorite Oiselle sisters! I read “Running with Music” religiously, not only to keep up with Rebecca’s incredible coaching and running pursuits, but also because she’s always recommending tunes that must immediately be added to my “What I’m Listening to Now” playlist.
So while our favorite speedy blogger was out kicking *ss and taking names at the Mohawk Hudson Marathon last weekend, my hubs Cody and three dear friends from back home in Alabama ventured down to Austin for the three-day Austin City Limits Music Festival. Each of us are part of the Bonnaroo crew I’ve written about before; Kimberly (who has since joined Rebecca and me on the Oiselle team) originally put our little music-loving group together.
Every year, Austin hosts several major festivals, including South by Southwest in March, ACL in early October and Fun Fun Fun Fest in November. ACL is held over two weekends, with most of (but not all) the bands repeating for second weekend. We hit up Weekend 2 this year.
Tens of thousands of music fans flood Austin’s Zilker Park, ready for ACL 2015.
So that I can focus on the incredible tunes at ACL in this post, I’m putting up some pics of our adventures in Austin outside of the festival gates on my blog, including some fun pics from my last easy run for the week on my Houston 2016 training plan, the long run for the weekend (hubs joined me for part of it!) and our incredible BBQ “tasting” tour south of Austin in the small towns of Lockhart and Luling, TX. I’ve also compiled a list of my top tips to maximize your enjoyment of a music festival. Check those out here!
ACL has compiled an official highlights video, but here are some of my own personal favorites from the weekend, including some videos and pictures I took around the festival grounds.
Festival-goers like to bring flags or make homemade totems to hold up so friends can find them in the crowd. I loved this jellyfish totem; the other side read “#RUJelly?”
The Golden Porta Potty (and yes, that’s air conditioning!)
View of Downtown Austin Behind the Venue Flags at Honda Stage
Overall Best Set: alt-J
The guys from alt-J took the prize for my favorite overall set of the weekend. They were assigned the Sunday “witching hour” slot on the festival schedule (what we call the time of the evening where the sun hasn’t yet set, but is no longer beating you down with intensity). alt-J certainly made the most of this sweet spot. They played all of our favorites from their debut album as well as their 2014 follow-up, including “Fitzpleasure,” “Something Good” and “Hunger of the Pine.” Hardcore Lauren Fleshman fans will remember from Rebecca’s interview that alt-J is one of Lauren’s favorite bands and “Every Other Freckle” is one of her favorite tracks, so this vid is for our Fleshman Flyer. <3
View from the Opposite Side of Venue Flags; alt-J Takes the Honda Stage
Best Rocking Out from a Seated Position: Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters
You’ve probably heard about Dave’s broken leg and his abject refusal to cancel the Foo Fighters’ world tour after his stage-dive accident and resulting surgery. A consummate professional who knows the show must go on, indeed. We were really impressed by the level of energy, head banging and guitar shredding Dave was able to accomplish from his specially-built on-stage throne. Unfortunately, there were some sound problems during the set which prevented us from really hearing and enjoying the Foo Fighters’ performance. Big bummer. However, a concert-goer the previous ACL weekend caught a pretty good vid of the whole show, which you can check out here.
Your humble author taking a brief respite from the heat and the masses in the shady VIP grove.
Brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, better known as Disclosure, deserved their Friday night prestige spot on the lineup. Of course “Latch” was amazing, and they brought it out for their last encore. But their first encore track was an awesome new song -- “Moving Mountains.” Incredible sound, fabulous light show and the guys were really getting into it onstage. I’m linking you to a professional video that depicts exactly what we saw but captured the light and sound way better than I did, considering I couldn’t hold my phone steady and still dance! (My fave part is the last minute or so if you want to just hit the high parts.) Nero also brought it over on a smaller stage on Sunday night. “Promises” was a highlight.
I hear A LOT of complaints from festival purists (aka snobs) about the inclusion of hip hop, rap and especially EDM in festival lineups. I can sympathize with their argument that the lineup spot “taken” by an act coming from outside of the rock/indie/folk/jam-band genre is one less opportunity for a traditional festival-style band to be on stage and gain exposure, but I’m one of those “taste the flavors of the rainbow” music lovers….I enjoy all kinds of music and musicians. As long as festival attendees come in with open minds, they might find something new that leads to greater support and understanding of the festival vibe and the musicians who built these events into the big deals they are today. The same club kid who showed up to check out deadmau5 at ACL may walk by and be exposed to the Father John Misty set; the pop fan who came for Florence and the Machine might check out Kurt Vile while hitting up the food truck area; the rap enthusiast at ACL for Run the Jewels might also get into the BØRNS set. Keeping that in mind, I think good EDM -- and admittedly, not all of it fits that category -- has a place at a varied, multistage festival like ACL. Newport Folk Festival? Probably not.
Best R&B/Soul: Leon Bridges
For the uninitiated, Leon is a favorite son of Texas, born and raised in Ft. Worth. He brought his 60’s-infused R&B/Motown soul down to ACL and gained many new fans with a strong Friday afternoon set. Great voice and cool throwback wardrobe.
Leon Bridges on the Honda Stage
Loudest Set: Bassnectar
The bass was ALL in your face when Bassnectar took the smaller HomeAway stage, regardless of whether you actually intended to catch their set. Cody and I were at a nearby stage where a crowd was gathering in advance of Drake’s Saturday night headline show. We may as well have been right there with the Bassnectar crowd. Can’t imagine what it would have been like on the front row or next to a speaker! If you want to see and hear what a nervous breakdown is like, click here.
Talented Musicians Showing Greatest Range: TV on the Radio
We had a great spot close to the stage for the TVotR set so I was able to get some nice pictures of my own. (As an aside, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for them because Cody and I chose a remix of their track “Will Do” as the song that played when we walked down the aisle out of the Las Vegas chapel after we got married!) What an incredible group of musicians.
TV on the Radio on the Miller Lite Stage
To my ears, TV on the Radio sounded like a different band with every track. They really have no signature sound -- which I’ve heard some music pundits claim is the reason the band can’t get a foothold in mainstream music -- but man, it sure does make for an interesting live show. One minute, there’s a speed metal-style double bass drum beat, the next thing you know, the bass player puts down his guitar and picks up a trombone. My favorite was their (longish) instrumental intro straight into their older track Young Liars; I found a pretty good ACL fan video of the intro here.
Tunde Adebimpe, lead singer of TV on the Radio, breaks it down for the ACL crowd.
Other honorable mentions for great sets: Glass Animals (“Gooey” rocked!), Gary Clark, Jr. (“Bright Lights Big City”) and Tame Impala (“Let It Happen”)
Listen to this:
ALL OF THE ABOVE