Monday, September 17, 2007

The Austin City Limits (ACL) Festival – Parting Thoughts.

I just returned from the ACL festival. It was three days of awesome music, from which I came away with three main thoughts:

Sunday, Bob Dylan – no one can deny the impact that Dylan has had on rock music, or his songwriting and composition skills. However, as a performer, I highly recommend that you avoid him at this point in time. The final act of the festival could not have been more underwhelming. His voice has become ravaged over time, yielding what my friend Scott described as singing like a gremlin. I’d add to that by saying the gremlin would have to be wasted first. Either way, it was horrendous. But you can’t fault the guy for being old, right? So why not just kick back and enjoy the tunes? Well, apparently before the show began, concertgoers who were semi-close to the stage were informed that the band requested no photography. If you tried to take a picture, you’d receive one warning, and then your camera would be confiscated – permanently. For some reason, the band had no inclination to be seen. The stage was near-black from lack of light. For 99% of the 4-bazillion people that were there, you couldn’t see a thing, and even worse – the camera operators were told not to zoom in on any of the band, so the gigantic screens on the side of the stage were showing the very same panned-back view! It’s fairly annoying when there are a gazillion people at a show to see a performance, but the impression they get from the band is that the band just wants to do their thing and doesn’t really care about what the audience thinks. The net result was that I left after 4 or 5 songs, although on a positive note, was able to get back to my friend’s early enough to drive back last night.

Saturday, Muse – I first saw Muse live in 2004 at Coachella, and was blown away so much that I ran out to buy their album IMMEDIATLEY after the performance. I have seen them a couple times since, including EdgeFest recently, where I wrote about how “Muse Rocked So Hard, They Broke the Barricade.” On Saturday, I didn’t catch the beginning of their set because I watched the Arcade Fire, who were fantastic. Their climax of “Lights Out” and “Rebellion (Lies)” was absolutely mind-blowing, and I was truly impressed, until I sprinted the ¾ mile to the stage where Muse was headlining and couldn’t believe my eyes and ears. I only saw the last 25 minutes of Muse’s set, but I have to tell you that for most of the concertgoers, they stole the festival. Their set was an assault on the senses – their stadium-brand of hard rock combined with a truly impressive spectacle of lights and lasers that perfectly complimented their music. Although I was far back from the stage due to having arrived late, I was in awe of how captivating they were. On the walk home, I discussed with my friends how much money Muse made Saturday night – like Coachella in 2004 for me, I don’t understand how a single person who saw that could walk away and not want to rush out and buy all their albums. If you’ve never seen Muse live, for the love of God, get to it!

Friday, Bjork – this was the highlight of the festival for me. As I’ve mentioned before, there is a certain something you feel when you see an artist for the first time that just cannot be matched. I had never seen Bjork before, nor did I ever think she’d show up in Texas again, which was a big motivator for my attending the festival in the first place. In short, she was absolutely amazing. She appeared on stage wearing what I described to friends as “a big, gold, poofy thing” and proceeded to remind me why she’s one of the most unique, powerful presences in the music industry today. Even for those who aren’t fans, her voice is undeniably unique and powerful, and her style is so exotic that you can’t help but be impressed. Of course, I’m a huge fan, so I was simply melting at how wonderful the performance was. I used to wonder what she’d sound like live since her voice is so powerful on record, but sure enough, her live performance was equally flawless and captivating. The last song Bjork performed before the encore was “Hyperballad,” my favorite, and I think I actually shed a tear it was so beautiful – a feat I haven’t experienced since early Radiohead concerts. To top it all off, the breakdown at the end of “Hyperballad” was so crazy that one of her speakers actually caught on fire. It couldn’t have been more fitting. When she returned, she said in her nymph-like speaking voice “one of our speakers caught on fire!” to which the crowd cheered loudly, and she responded “but you don’t care,” and laughed cutely about it. The crowd went crazy – we could have stayed there all night.


Blogger cookie said...

ahh great review on bjork!

5:38 PM  

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