As your trusty Tripwire crew entered day three of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, a little extra sleep was necessary to help get us to the finish line. A few too many margaritas at Trudy's (a mighty fine Tex Mex spot in Austin) may have slowed us down a bit as well. Although we had planned on making it down to Zilker Park for Yo La Tengo, The National and Ian Ball, well, that just didn't happen.
After a few breakfast tacos at Maria's Taco Express (another badass Austin eatery), we drove to our same parking spot as the previous two days and began the forty-minute hike. By the time we hit the entrance, we made it just in time for Midlake on the Austin Ventures Stage. You can add Midlake to the list of bands I just never had an opportunity to catch live before, and since I still listen to The Trials Of Van Occupanther practically daily, I was damn excited.
Midlake did not disappoint, with their pitch-perfect harmonies sounding as clear as day. In fact, their set was one of the best sounding of the entire festival, with each bit of their instrumentation coming through perfectly, which is no small feat for an outdoor performance. "Head Home" was stunning, complete with their Fleetwood Mac bass lines. They obviously included "Roscoe" as well as "Young Bride," ah yes, I almost forgot about this one. Right before they began "Young Bride," there was a marriage proposal on stage. I totally get the idea of a marriage proposal with a dedication of a song called "Young Bride," but lyrically I'm not sure I'd tell my young bride that her shoulders are like a "tired old woman." I think I'd get slapped. Just sayin'.
As the afternoon sun started to take its toll, we zipped over to the media area for some water and a bit of shade. As luck would have it, we timed it just right to catch the one and only Ice Cream Man. We snagged the last three treats in his bag, which happened to be the slightly funky tasting Bomb Pops, but at that point it didn't matter. Those little bastards were getting consumed!
Now that we had fueled up on water and popsicles, we popped over to see a bit of Bloc Party. With our next must-see over one hour away, we had a little time to kill. Fortunately, our Austin expert Rebecca happened to know of a bar within walking distance that had a frightening beverage that needed to be tried: a purple margarita. Now, what exactly made it purple? I guess it was best not to ask, but with a limit of two per person, they definitely packed a punch. With some booze flowing through our veins, it was totally time to catch My Morning Jacket.
When we walked up to the AT&T Stage, I thought perhaps the bartender put something funny in my drink, as My Morning Jacket's Jim James was sporting a long, blonde wig. Their stage backdrop contained a Hawaiian scene, complete with a beach and palm trees. Interspersed between the members of MMJ were hula girls, gently swaying to the songs, a few even armed with pineapples. It made for a brief WTF moment upon first glance, but it totally worked as the band ripped through some of their best material. Their set included "One Big Holiday," "Off The Record," "Wordless Chorus," plus a guest appearance by Andrew Bird. They were definitely one of the biggest highlights from ACL this year.
This brings us to the final performance for our ACL bonanza, Ghostland Observatory. The Austin-based duo had one hell of a crowd assembled for their dance-fueled set of dirty beats, and they ate it up. Aaron Behrens and Thomas Turner showed up dressed like Elvis on acid. No other group had ACL attendees dancing, jumping and getting their groove on like Ghostland. It was truly something special, standing towards the back and watching this mass of people turn this amazing evening in Austin into a gigantic dance party.
For my first Ghostland performance, I picked a doozy. Complete with a lazer light show, this was the duo's largest performance to date. They didn't hold back, blazing through "Sad Sad City," "Stranger Lover" and my personal favorite of the evening, "Silver City." The electo beats and synth magic provided by Thomas Turner were mesmerizing, giving frontman Aaron Behrens the perfect canvas of music to work with. He slithered all over that stage, shimming from one end to the other. His energy and charisma totally makes Ghostland a treat to experience on stage, making the perfect ending to ACL.
On our way out of the gates, we did stop by to catch a few moments of Bob Dylan's headlining set. Unfortunately, at that point it was officially time for this crew to call it a day. Overall, the Austin City Limits Music Festival was one hell of a great weekend. I want to sincerely thank the amazing staff at ACL, who were always friendly and helpful. Oh yeah, except for those that hassled our own Kyle Rother, escorting him into a trailer to be interrogated about his press credentials. So, everybody except those involved with that particular event were tops in my book.
Many thanks to the entire Tripwire team for assisting with photos and feeding me drinks. Erin, Kyle, Rebecca & Jeremy... you kids kick ass. See ya next year ACL!