• ACL Day 3

    Sunday lived up to its name through clear skies and tons of sunshine, disproving forecasts of rain to the delight of the umbrella-carrying crowd. The closing day ended the festival on a good note with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ incredible performance.

    Two Door Cinema Club, playing their second ACL since 2010, walked onto the Bud Light stage and were met with the high-pitched cheers and excited fist-pumps of the predominantly teenaged crowd. The alternative rock band played hits from their two full-length albums, Tourist History and Beacon, while audience members danced along and crowd surfed. The performance was full of energy given by both the band and the audience.

    At 6:15 Iggy Pop and The Stooges provided an outlet for punk rock fans. The 65-year-old rocker looked weathered but still displayed a commendable amount of endurance, and at one point jumped down to the crowd whilst surrounded by security guards. His classic wailing vocals mixed with the saxophone over the fast-paced drums, creating an insatiable sense of urgency that drove some to crowd surf and push mosh. During the classic “I Want To Be Your Dog,” Iggy got on all fours and scowled at the audience with the mic cord in his mouth before closing the set with “No Fun.”

    Crystal Castles’ set was a cross between a musical performance and a light show. Multi-colored strobe lights pulsed over the stage and the crowd for the duration of their performance. Band member Alice Glass spent about half of the set standing on, not in, the audience. Glass relied on the strength of her vibrating fans to hold her up as she danced and sang her way through each song.

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers took the Bud Light stage an hour after Iggy ended and proved why they were selected to be the headlining act. Bassist Flea, with pink hair, leapt like a gazelle while slapping his instrument to the timing of Chad Smith’s drum kit. Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer frequently played while sitting down and added falsetto back up vocals to supplement chaotic front man Anthony Kiedis. The Los Angeles funk rock band played at least one song from almost all ten of their albums. From Blood Sugar Sex Magik came “Suck My Kiss,” featuring one of the funkiest bass lines ever, and “Under The Bridge,” which provided a cathartic release for the audience who sang along almost word for word. To transition into other songs, Flea consistently performed bass solos to demonstrate his music virtuosity. After 16 songs, the band left the stage after playing “By The Way,” from the album of the same name. Panic ran amuck in the dark crowd as lights dimmed, provoking desperate, yet unsynchronized chants for an encore. Ultimately the dramatic tension was cut with a drum solo from Chad Smith that led into “Sir Psycho Sexy,” and the closing song “Give It Away.” Kiedis remarked that “[The Red Hot Chili Peppers] come here specifically to mess with Texas.” The encore will easily go down in history as one of the greatest comebacks of all time.

    The music lineup of Austin City Limits 2012 was well worth the struggles against humidity and rain. ACL continues to be a landmark event for the city and will return doubled in length for 2013. Hopefully Austin will have recuperated from this weekend by then.

  • ACL Day 2

    Precarious clouds loomed over Zilker Park until about 5 pm, when the rain had music fans either running for shelter or pulling out umbrellas.

    At 3 pm Big K.R.I.T. appeared on the Honda stage after a hyped up intro from his DJ. He displayed unrelenting stamina during his hour of enthusiastic and fast paced rapping. The DJ showcased his turntable virtuosity through solo instrumental breaks comprised of massive amounts of vinyl scratching and air horns.

    Josh Tillman of Father John Misty took the Austin Ventures stage carrying a bottle of Tito’s vodka and wearing red, plastic, heart-shaped sunglasses. He opened his energetic set by commenting on the cloud-covered skies. “This weather is like a hung-over person’s paradise, Jesus! What sweet relief,” Tillman said. Father John Misty’s performance was flamboyant bordering on ridiculous.

    In the midst of one of the many bursts of rain, The Shins began their performance on the AMD stage. The band played an array of songs from their extensive library, and the crowd was happy to dance along to the familiar tunes. However, the performance was bland, and devoid of the character and commentary that audiences typically crave from a live show.

    The TVs next to the Honda Stage were turned off to concentrate the spotlight on Bassnectar. The electronica artist sampled popular songs like Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” while adding his own pulsating drum sound clips. Almost every song followed the same formula of buildups to breaks. Though predictable, Bassnectar’s original tracks and remixed songs prompted everyone within earshot to drop everything and just dance.

    The final choice of the night was classic or alternative rock. For the latter crowd, Jack White began on the AMD Stage at 8 pm on the dot with an all-girl backing band (but no Meg White). Playing songs from The White Stripes like “I Can Tell That We Are Going To Be Friends,” and that one Raconteurs song, White concisely summarized his prolific career within an hour and thirty minutes. Known for a guitar-driven sound, his delicate finger picking and cacophonous slide techniques were joined by a pedal steel, organ, and violin to create a holistic soundscape. 

    Meanwhile, anticipation was high in the tightly packed crowd before Neil Young and Crazy Horse walked out on to the Bud Light stage. Dressed in t-shirts and blue jeans, the band of graying, balding rock-stars were as spry and lively as ever. There were frequent, extensive instrumental breaks, but the fans didn’t seem to mind.  The band held the audience’s captivation for the duration of their two-hour set, and the muddy army of fans left the show still in awe.

    Saturday is in the history books, leaving only the bittersweet last day. The rain will continue tomorrow and is likely to boil during the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ headlining set.

  • ACL Day 1

    The impact of Thursday’s rain was felt through high humidity levels and sporadic spots of mud on the inaugural day of Austin City Limits 2012.

    The War On Drugs took the Budweiser stage around 2 pm. The band’s lone guitarist played whimsical blues riffs similar to The Allman Brothers. His vocals were a mix between Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan.

    Umphrey’s McGee was one of the best acts of Friday. Their jam band style downplays the importance of vocals and their expert instrumentation stole the show. Just when a song seemed like it was dying down, they would come back with a shredding solo. The band’s chemistry and raw musical talent went unmatched by any other act of the night.

    Jovanotti’s enthusiasm radiated on stage through his seizing style of dance. The music was largely rhythmic based and showcased the versatility of the two percussionists. Their interesting take on bebop was infused with a funky slapped bass and the guitarist’s expert use of the wah pedal.

    Weezer’s set list consisted of songs from The Blue Album like “My Name Is Jonas” and “Buddy Holly” and easily recognizable hits like “Beverly Hills”. Rivers Cuomo, looking just like Buddy Holly, was all smiles while dancing with the ASL translator.

    Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine took the stage in a slow, dramatic saunter and was wearing one of her signature ball gowns. The Florence + The Machine performance was a first day favorite according to many audience members. The dynamic set was rounded off by a large jumping spree to the band’s hit, “Dog Days Are Over”.

    By 8:00 pm the entire crowd had essentially segregated between the AMD and Bud Light stages on far sides of the park. Pandemonium broke out when DJ Avicii took the AMD stage. His sampled vocals and industrial style electronica played through a colossal sound system pushed the crowd to the limit. There was no law in his crowd and one was likely to get fist pumped in the face.

    On the other side of Zilker Park, The Black Keys delivered the powerful, old school rock show performance they’ve come to be known for. Dan Auerbach’s bluesy guitar tones wafted over the tightly packed crowd as the band played old hits like “I Got Mine”, which served as the band’s bold and boisterous closing song.

    The first day of what could be the last single-weekend ACL festival provided a perfect sampling of what Zilker Park will provide for the duration of the weekend.

    Check out Daily Texan Multimedia's ACL Day 1 photo slideshow.