Monday, September 26, 2005

ACL Flames Out at 107 Degrees

I can't believe I stood around getting cooked in the 107-degree oven of Zilker Park yesterday. An hour in that heat is like a day in normal temperatures. Although the dust started getting really bad around dusk, I'm not sure it ever got as bad as Saturday.

Aside from Roky Erickson & the Explosives' expectation-surpassing set as the sun went down (review forthcoming in this week's Chron), most of the ACL Music Festival was a dust-choked blur on Saturday. It was nice to get a taste of New Orleans in exile by watching the Dirty Dozen Brass Band for a few songs. I'd never seen the gospel tent as packed as it was for their set.

Sacred steel master Robert Randolph was good from my distant vantage point. I'd recommend him to anyone at least once, but today I was too beat to venture any closer. I hid out in the SBC cool-down tent for a spell before seeing the last two songs from Brooklyn's appropriately-named Fiery Furnaces. They were interesting if not revelatory. Australian copycat kings Jet were plenty competent, but I still prefer the real thing so long as most of AC/DC is still alive and touring.

I had better luck on Sunday. My pals in Pong festooned their stage with metallic balloons and wore white painter's suits I hope were made of breathable fiber. M83's post-punk electronic assault complimented the oppressive heat. The Kaiser Chiefs, whose album I've yet to pick up, had total stage command as the plowed through nugget after power-pop nugget. I got to see Bob Mould (with Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty) play "Celebrated Summer" and "Makes No Sense At All," which provided minor consolation for never having seen Hüsker Dü.

I finished the evening by reviewing New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins and his Barbecue Swingers. They didn't have as big a crowd as the Dirty Dozen, but their wide-ranging set of Louis Armstrong-style standards and proto-funky parade jazz had everyone dancing.

Although professional responsibility would normally dictate a cursory look, I had no interest in seeing Coldplay after spending all day in the heat. I like a couple of their songs, but they just don't move me. The fact that they're the biggest rock band in the world right now speaks volumes about the moribund state of the genre. Friends who are fans reported they were quite good, though.

Despite the weather, I still think ACL is a well-run music festival. Toilets are plentiful, food is reasonably priced and the stage sound didn't suffer from the wind nearly as much as it did last year. I do think organizers need to seriously investigate the possibility of moving it a week or two deeper into the fall, though. Even if the UT doesn't draw a bye-week in October, surely there's a non-OU road game ACL could peacefully coexist with.

And what's with all these "NO EVENT PARKING" signs going up in neighborhoods north of the lake? I'm sure ACL is a pain in the ass for homeowners over there, but it's over and done with in 72 hours. While I'm all for towing and fining thoughtless jerks who block people's driveways and arresting inebriated lawn-pissers, homeowners need to recognize they don't own anything beyond the curb.

Frankly, whenever I see people taking the law into their own hands by blocking the street in front of their house with lawn chairs, trash cans or traffic cones, my first instinct is to throw such items of blockage in my trunk and drive off.


Chaz said...

Robert Randolph & Family Band=Greatest band ever! Were you at Bonnaroo?

Anonymous said...

1.) i am still coughing up phlegm from breathing all that dust.

2.) does everything in this fucking town have to revolve around UT football?

3.) i used to live in that neighborhood up from flipnotics, and the traffic isn't such a big deal. also, no one ever tows. that's why i parked there without compunction.


Greg said...

I've never been to Bonnaroo, but Randolph always seems to deliver live.

I'm still coughing up phlegm, too, but at least its not black anymore.