Review: ACL Day 3

The sun goes down on the Flaming Lips

The wife and kids arrived at ACL just after the noontime downpour. They checked out the kid area and The Boy sampled The Black Angels and Husky Rescue at my recommendation. It was his consolation for having to miss The Raconteurs the day before. He liked Black Angels better than Husky Rescue. The Wife thought the opposite. I would’ve liked to have seen Husky Rescue. We noticed the beach area had been improved from last year, complete with misting fans and tents to provide more shade than the umbrellas that were available the past few years. I think after the blistering temperatures last year, they heeded the complaints of festival-goes with kids and added much needed heat relief for the little ones.

I arrived just before Ween’s set. I’ve had several friends recommend Ween to me over the years. I wrote them off the first time I heard “Push Th’ Little Daisies”, but they’ve had quite a catalog since then, a catalog of the puerile and absurd. I enjoyed their show. If memory serves, they played “Buckingham Green”, “Voodoo Lady”, “Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)”, “Piss Up A Rope”, “Dr. Rock”, “Bananas and Blow” and “Mister Richard Smoker” and a few others. Good stuff.

I made my way over to the opposite end of the park to catch some of Son Volt and position myself for The Flaming Lips. The Wife was already over there checking out Matisyahu. I thought I heard at least one Uncle Tupelo song as we sat down to wait, but I don’t see anything on the ACL setlist. Perhaps I just recognized the Son Volt song from the first album and confused the two. Anyone?

The Flaming Lips are everything you’ve heard and more. Inflatable spacemen and aliens? Check. Confetti? Check. Gaggle of Santas? Check. Gaggle of elf-like alien chicks? Check. Enormous Hands? Check. Wonder Woman and Captain America? Check. Human-sized Hamster Ball? Check. Fake blood to outdo Ben Kweller’s nosebleed from the previous day? Check.

I’m a total convert. Wayne Coyne is an immediate likeable fellow. I suppose I’m predisposed to like anyone who gives props to the Butthole Surfers and Scratch Acid and disses George W. Bush in the same set.

Their website includes a great embedded player that’ll let you sample songs from several of their albums, including many of the tracks they played yesterday: “She Don’t Use Jelly”, “The Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Song (With All Your Power)”, “Free Radicals”, and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1” to name a few (make sure to pick broadband for better quality tracks than the default “modem”).

The crowd swelled after the Flaming Lips in preparation for the festival closer, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. By the time they hit the stage, it was nearly impossible to find an open space. We were fairly far back as it was and there were people as far back as I could see behind us, a massive sea of humanity. The clouds finally opened up again about 6 songs into their set, lighting and ominous clouds could be seen to the north as they started playing and the wind began to pick up. I think “Handle With Care”, the Traveling Wilburys song, was one of the last songs before they paused because of the rain. We also managed to hear “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”, “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Falling” among others. We packed up donned our panchos in the hopes that they’d keep playing but I guess the wind was blowing too much rain onto the equipment. We ended up leaving before they began again.

ACL has setlists (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) up for most of the performances, so you can find out what was played instead of relying on my horrible memory or your own. They also will conveniently pass you through to iTunes to buy your favorites. I still haven’t checked out the iTunes card with 30 free songs from artists appearing at the festival that they were giving out at the entrance. Maybe tonight…

Overall, I have to hand it to the organizers. I never had to wait very long for anything this year. Lines for food, beer, and port-a-potties were quick or non-existent for me. They did have a more cooperative weather pattern this year, which made the most difference. Their efforts to keep the grass around and avoid the dust of last year were obvious and much appreciated. We avoided the shuttles once again this year. My mother-in-law opted for extravagance and convenience and forked over the $25 that Austin Java was charging to park in their lot (most other businesses on Barton Springs were doing the same). We spent $7 to park in the garage at Palmer Events Center the other two days. The walk from there to the park was no big deal and it was relatively painless to get out of there and across Riverside to I-35 both nights. I can only hope they’ve made as much of an improvement with the technical infrastructure for the early tickets sales for next year as they have with the rest of the festival.

1 Comment so far

  1. Sean Claes (unregistered) on September 20th, 2006 @ 10:06 am

    Nice review. My two year old jammed to Son Volt showing me that I’ve been doing something right raising her.

    We actually opted to use the shuttle all three days and it was smooth sailing the whole time… except for Friday night after Van Morrison when over 30,000 people were trying to get into 24 busses… but I think that went as smooth as it could have gone. Kudos for the organizers!

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