Austin City Limits Review: Friday

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Each October tens of thousands of festival goers pour into Austin, Texas to experience one of the oldest and most impressive music festivals in the world, Austin City Limits. ACL, as it’s known, usually has something for everyone with its eclectic array of artists spanning nearly every genre and level of popularity. This years lineup was no exception, featuring everything from Kaskade to Lionel Richie, from Caspar Babypants to the Kings of Leon. 

ACL isn’t just about the music, the food and art on display are fantastic as well. The food selection is phenomenal, made up of about thirty popular local spots. The Gentleman grubbed on Freebirds burritos, Torchys tacos, and P.Terrys burgers and snagged dessert at Amy’s ice cream or Tiff’s Treats. Food quality and number of porta-potties are often overlooked, yet crucial, factors in how good a music festival ends up being.

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FUN.

In between eating The Gentleman actually found time to catch a few shows, starting with the tail end of Fun’s set. I think it’s safe to say we all remember the time, about four months ago, when radio stations made it clear they felt we should be listening exclusively to We Are Young (They just finished doing the same thing to Radioactive). Fun though was surprisingly good live, especially when considering the length to which they rely on frontman Nate Ruess’ aggressively poppy vocals. I personally didn’t think he would sound the same in person but I was wrong, he delivered and the only two songs we saw (We Are Young and Some Nights) were awesome and had the crowd of about 20k singing along.

I can’t believe I’m putting up a link to We Are Young, but to the one guy who was studying abroad in Antarctica studying penguins or something and missed this, here you go. As far as catchiness and get-stuck-in-your-headability (not a word I know) this song is up there with Day Man, with the only difference being that We Are Young only has 211,000,000 more views.

Here’s the slightly less abused Some Nights, boasting a measly 83,000,000 views.

Local Natives

Mumford & Sons. Explosions in the Sky. The XX. These are just some of the bands I can think of that at one point or another were infected with the “indie virus”. There are people out there who really value their music and are proud of the bands they’ve found on their own, I happen to be one of those people, and I’ll admit I’ve been known to douche it up about my music from time to time. There is, however, a segment of the population who seem to find self-worth in finding a band before YOU did, and they desperately want to remind you of that every time a song from “their” band comes on. These people seem fine at the beginning, but after about the tenth time they’ve reminded you that they started listening to Kings of Leon in, like, fifth grade or that they were “totally raping the replay button” on Levels years before you were, they begin to border on insufferable. The Local Natives, for whatever reason, attract these kinds of people like moths to light. There’s a reason for that though, these guys are fantastic. When I hear songs like Wide Eyes I can completely understand why people want to be associated with these guys, their sound is unique and they’re really talented. The bottom line is the Local Natives are just plain old fashioned cool. They make the perfect kind of music to relax to with a cigar and beer in hand, preferably next to some body of water. When I heard they were playing at ACL I was pumped to see them and so right after Fun played I pretty much jogged my way over to the other end of the park to catch them in the middle of the set. Here are a few of their jams I recommend for anybody who hasn’t given them a listen:

Wide Eyes is just a laid back introspective awesome jam, I dare you to not download this.

They mix up the pace to great results on Breakers

Vampire Weekend

In my experience people tend to underestimate Vampire Weekend, they probably have a lot more songs you’ve heard than you realize. These guys have an interesting sound, kind of an alternative take on pop. They’re versatile too, they have the ability to stretch across several genres on a given album. I noticed the audience seemed to warm to Vampire Weekend more and more as their set went on, which is one of the supporting factors to my statement above, if you see these guys live you might be surprised by how many songs you know. Honestly these guys are simply a real solid festival band, I can’t think of much more to cover in my write up. Go see these guys, you’ll be glad you did.

A-Punk was the first song I caught from Vampire Weekend and it’s a jam

Giving Up the Gun really exposes the pop influence in their music

 

Kaskade

Here ladies and gentleman, we have the first entry into The Gentlemans coveted Top Five Sets of the Weekend! I’m sure Kaskade will be ecstatic to hear of his inclusion. I was absolutely looking forward to seeing this guy but he still surpassed my expectations by a vast margin. I’ve always felt that electronic concerts have a certain edge to them that other genres don’t, the upbeat nature and pounding bass help keep the crowd pumped up the whole time, if you haven’t been to a proper one you’re missing out. When it comes to Kaskade specifically, this guy gets it. He knows how to work a crowd, surprising everyone by leading off with his latest hit single, Atmosphere (off the album by the same name). He did a great job of keeping the energy level through the roof the entire set. What set him apart though was the way he finished, he rattled off three absolute heaters in a row, people were getting pretty weird out there. I actually took a few videos of the drops in between losing my mind, I’ll post those along with a few links to the songs he played.

He led off with this.

Second to last song was this incredible remix to Lana Del Rey’s Young & Beautiful

He finished with a classic jam of his that has to be one of my favorite electronic songs of all time.

Here are a couple of videos I took of his set.

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Muse

I’m gonna come clean here gentlemen, I was not a Muse fan before seeing them at ACL. I only went and saw them because my friends wanted to and because I had no one better to see at the time. I’m not saying they’ve magically converted me into a lifelong fan or anything after just one show but I will say this: they are all kinds of incredible live. I can only imagine how good that concert would have been had I been a fan prior to having seen them. They played all their hits but even the songs I didn’t know (I only know about five) were really enjoyable because the effort level they brought was through the roof. Leaving the concert I couldn’t stop thinking about how unbelievably talented Muse frontman Matthew Bellamy is. The guy plays four different instruments during their set and sings like a borderline opera singer. Their performance just missed making it in to The Gentleman’s Top Five Sets of the Weekend (only Kaskade from Friday made it) but I would still highly recommend seeing them if you’re lucky enough to get the chance.

Some classic Muse:

The Muse song I loved before I saw them: