We arrived along with the fire trucks, ambulances and Haz-Mat team, but went in anyway. By the time we were through the gates, the fire was out and the four injured workers were on their way to the hospital.
This year’s ACL schedule is short on artists that I really want to see, which is kind of cool because it opens me up to making discoveries. I am not among those wailing and gnashing their teeth because the White Stripes canceled at the last minute.
We started with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, whose music is impossibly upbeat and funky. Definitely the best banjo-sax-bass-synthaxe drumitar combo around. They wound their set down with a very cool cover of The Beatles “Come Together,” making them the only live act I’ve ever heard cover The Beatles.
From there, we went to the WaMu tent where over the past years I’ve learned to really appreciate old-school funk and gospel. Oftentimes, these bands are the most fun to hear live. The Dynamites with Charles Walker were no exception.
We caught some of Joss Stone’s set on one of the big stages and then went back to WaMu for some of Big Sam’s Funky Nation and then back for the rest of Stone’s set. She was good, polished and powerful and clearly having a good time. Hard to believe she’s just 19.
I walked past MIA’s angry-ranting-over-beats (some kind of political hip hop) and caught most of Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective’s set while waiting in Hoffbrau Steakhouse’s line. They were quite good, riding a spirited Brizilian native music meets funk kind of vibe that made waiting in line really easy.
Austin’s own™ Spoon played a decent set that was far more interesting than when I heard them at ACL five years ago. After Spoon, we saw Gotan Project, whose Argentina-by-way-of-France sound combined DJs and electronic instruments with tango-style guitar and concertina work to sound like something you might find on a Thievery Corporation record. Gotan was definitely the highlight of the day. I suspect I’ll be checking out their CDs in the near future.
We left Gotan to hear Reverend Horton Heat. I’ve seen the reverend far more times than I can remember, but it’s been a while. I’ve always loved the way he plays guitar, and it was a treat to hear him open with a string of my favorites including “Big Sky,” “Baddest of the Bad,” and “Five-0 Ford.” It was like ’94 all over again.
After rocking out with Rev. Heat, we caught the last of Gotan’s set and settled in for headliner Björk. I had never heard her or her previous outfit The Sugarcubes. What I heard was haunting, often beautiful, and definitely something I would check out on CD, but at the end of the day, my hunger and desire to be on my way were more powerful than her and her green laser that twisted out over Zilker park.
Overall, it was a fun day and thankfully the weather wasn’t bad. It was hot at times, but never unbearable. The only regret is that I wish I had stayed and caught more of Blonde Redhead’s set. I heard the first part as I was walking by, and they sounded good. I’ll have to check out their recordings sometime.