Saturday, September 17, 2011

ACL Festival 2011 - Day 1

Taking the Shuttle to Zilker

As I have for the previous five years, I parked in my usual spot and took the shuttles over to Zilker Park. Prior to leaving home, I had actually packed some rain gear, because it was very overcast. Usually unwelcome during ACL, rain would be a great relief from the drought we are experiencing.

Loading up at Republic Square

The Front Gate

Asleep at the Wheel

As always, there's only one way to start the ACL Festival, and this is with Austin's favorite adopted band, Asleep at the Wheel. Some would argue that one of the most influential events in Austin music history, was the Wheel's move to Austin from Oakland, in 1974, at Willie Nelson's urging.

All I know is that there is nothing like starting the morning with some Texas Swing, and covers of Bob Wills songs.

Asleep at the Wheel

Ray Benson, Jaason Roberts, and Elizabeth McQueen

Wild Beasts while it was actually raining

At the end of the Wheel's set, I walked down the hill to the Honda stage, where Wild Beasts was playing. As I walked, it actually started raining. It was short lived, but forecasts call for more rain this weekend. It is still badly needed.

I don't have much to say about Wild Beasts. They were a British Pop act that I did not find too compelling.

It's actually raining

Wild Beasts on the Honda Stage

Disciples of Christ

Heading over to the Pavillion formerly known as the WAMU (now Vista Equity), I caught a set by a kick-ass, gospel group, Disciples of Christ. Four very impressive female singers powered this music into the stratosphere. Impressive singing talent was on display, for those fortunate few at this sparsely attended set.

Disciples of Christ

The Secret Sisters

Continuing my orbit around the grounds, I was treated to the sound of two more female voices, singing in excellent harmony. A pair of sisters from the legendary locale of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, were seducing the crowd with their siren song.

Their music seemed to be the perfect complement to a hot, lazy late summer afternoon. My biggest regret was not catching their entire set.

The Secret Sisters on the Google+ Stage

Brandi Carlile

Hearing this band from afar, I immediately headed back to the AMD stage. As I got closer, I realized that this would be a real treat. One set was enough to make me a fan of Seatlle based, performer, Brandi Carlile.

She plays a rousing mix of Rockabilly, and Country influenced music, and played an impressed cover of Johnny Cash's, Fulsom Prison Blues. Not only is she a great front person, but her band was fantastic too.

Brandi Carlile

Meanwhile, over at the BMI Stage

Finally making it over to the BMI Stage, even though it's right near the Front Gate, I saw this interesting setup. A rotating wheel of glass, with alternating wedges being silvered, was mounted in this device. People would line on both sides, as it spun, and watch the really cool effect created.

Unfortunately, the video doesn't do it justice, since you get a strobe effect from the digital camera.

Bobby Long

I had seen this British Singer/Songwriter earlier in the year, at SxSW. He delivered a very engaging performance. It is unfortunate that he couldn't command a larger stage, to be perfectly honest.

Bobby Long

Francicsa Vanezuela

Francicsa was a very attractive Chilean singer-songwriter. She plays piano and sings, with music that is targeted towards an alternative, Latin Pop market. The band and the sound were good, and she herself is an excellent player.

Francicsa Valenzuela

Electric Touch

After getting some food, I checked out a British-American band, Electric Touch. They had a good sound, and presentation, but I didn't find the music very interesting.

Electric Touch

Kurt Vile and the Violators

Like the previous, and the next acts I'm writing about, I didn't find this group very interesting.

Cold War Kids

I found this band to be similar to the previous. Good sound, pop sounding songs, but not very engaging or interesting.

Cold War Kids

The Austin Skyline

I attempted to catch a few shots of the Austin Skyline from Zilker. The night time shots rarely come out well, so here's two from the daylight hours.

Austin Skyline

Bud Light and Skyline

Bright Eyes

These guys apparently have a big following. They were fairly derivative, reminding me of some 80's MTV pop band.
It was listenable, but not interesting, either.

Bright Eyes

Gary Clark Jr.

Even though Gary is from Austin, I had never heard him play. He's pretty damn good. It is not often that a Blues player can hold an audience of anyone other than Blues fans. Gary has no problems doing this.

Made a mental note to catch him in town, soon.

Gray Clark Jr.

Sara Bareilles

As I was eating dinner, I could hear this Grammy nominated singer-songwriter on the Austin Ventures stage. She is fantastic, and will return on a bigger stage in the future. In addition to be an exceptional vocalist, she is also a very good piano player.

Sara Bareilles


I knew that I wasn't a Kayne fan, so I headed over towards the AMD stage to watch Coldplay. Well, I can cross them off of my list. I guess I'm not much of a Coldplay fan, either.


Exhausted, tired, and having sore feet, I headed out about three quarters of the way through Coldplay's set, and got on the shuttle. I really need to pace myself, and probably won't get back until around 2PM on Saturday.

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