Sunday, September 25, 2005

Fry-de-day in the Park, It Was the First Day of ACL

That title is a Chicago reference, by the way. Try singing it if you don't getting it on the page. See, it's funny, no?

Despite the scorching heat, day one of this year's ACL Music Festival was altogether decent. I fell in love about 1,000 times with women of all ages, sizes and hues. Unfortunately, owing to my less-than-generous application of sunblock, the hue of my own honker was approaching that of a hot dog by day's end.

After walking in to the strains of Asleep At The Wheel doing Bob Wills' "Big Balls in Cowtown," I watched a bit of Mofro's mucked-up take on swamp pop. Then I walked over to the Austin Ventures stage to review dios (malos), a quirky and melodic indie-pop quartet from Southern California. They tried to bring it, but their sound is better suited to clubs and coffeehouses than big outdoor festivals.

Then I caught a rollickingly joyful performance by the Gospel Stars that reminded me not to be so quick to dismiss all of Christianity out of hand. Listening to music like that makes you feel love regardless of where your spirit moves you. If that's not doing the Lord's work, I don't know what is.

I'd never seen Steve Earle before, so I watched a good portion of his set. Earle is a folksinger at the core, but backed up by the Dukes, he still knows how to rock out in front of thousands. He dedicated a song to Cindy Sheehan and spoke out against the war to big applause. After all, this is Austin.

I finally got to see Nottingham's Nic Armstrong & The Thieves at the last show of their two-month residency in Austin. Their Kinks-style power pop assault left me beating myself up for not having seen them in a club. They were on fire in more ways than one. "I'm fooking roasting up here!" quoth Mr. Armstrong.

Austin's own Sound Team was up next. I'm embarrassed to cop to never having seen them before. With two guitarists and two keyboardists, they delivered an finely-textured set of apocalyptic poptones that combined Berlin 1973 with New York 1982. Newly signed to Capitol, Sound Team may well be the next "it" out of Austin.

Because I cut my teeth on classic rock, I had to watch the Allman Brothers Band play. In spite of all the hard living and dying, they can still put most every jam band they influenced to shame. There is, in the end, a point to songs like "Mountain Jam" and "Whipping Post." It might not be the Fillmore East, but I'd still pay to go see the Allmans play a show of their own.

I'd planned to stick around for Lyle Lovett, but I was just too tired by then. Instead I came home to luxuriate in the air conditioning and continue working my way through the SCTV Volume 4 DVD box set.

No comments: