ACL 2007 Day 2 and 3 Recap: Angry Dad

1397696008_af849185f5_m.jpgSince soccer season started on Saturday, we arrived at Zilker Park in the late afternoon to the sounds of Blue October and Stephen Marley. After grabbing food, we parked ourselves between the AMD and AT&T Blue Room stages. Andrew Bird was a decent discovery while we waited for Arctic Monkeys. I can’t say the same about Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah, who followed Andrew Bird. As others have noted, the singer’s voice took on an annoying quality in the sound mix. Arctic Monkeys gave a good performance, but nothing that blew me away. I wasn’t close enough to see, but I suspect the large white lights behind them were borrowed from Arcade Fire’s stage decorations. The family and I parted ways for Arcade Fire since they didn’t want to miss any of Muse. I stayed to watch what I consider the best performance of the festival of the acts that I saw. Arcade Fire mixed great visuals with an amazing performance. I’d heard a few of their songs, two of which they played (“Black Mirror” and “No Cars Go”). The red lighting and kinescope-like images added well to the mood of the performance. It was often difficult to count the number of band members on stage, but the average seemed to be around 10. One guy pointlessly pounded the crap out of a cymbal for an entire song that none of us could hear, but poor sound at the AMD stage was a problem throughout the festival. I was impressed by multi-instrumentalist, RĂ©gine Chassagne, who played drums, accordian, and pipe organ among other things. I left Arcade Fire in time to catch Muse’s last few songs. They stepped into the headliner slot after The White Stripes canceled and they did an admirable job. I’m not a big fan of theirs from what I heard on the radio, but they impressed me Saturday night.

Sunday was our only full day at the festival. We arrived at noon to catch Fionn Regan at the Austin Ventures stage. His song, “Put a Penny in the Slot”, was an iTunes free download several weeks ago and I liked it enough to check him out. He put on a good show, but I found myself being distracted by the cacophony that Yo La Tengo was putting out from the AMD stage. This was the first of two times that I wished I could be two places at once on Sunday. After Fionn Regan, we relaxed at the “beach”, had lunch and let the kids run amok at Austin Kiddie Limits.

Being a parent with relatively small kids, I have to say a few things about the evolution of the beach area and Austin Kiddie Limits this year as things have changed quite a bit from years past. As with most things, the changes are good and bad.

  • In past years, the beach area only had umbrellas for shade, but was patrolled by staff members who kicked out anyone without kids. I miss having an area that was for families only, but think the addition of full size tents instead of umbrellas for shade give a respite from the heat that everyone needs. I’m willing to give up the kid exclusivity for the added shade. Still, don’t be a jerk about the plastic chairs that are provided by the festival. I’m speaking specifically to the two douchebags who took our chair and then sat down right next to us to light up a cigarette and pass around a flask. You’re lucky I wasn’t a total dick in return by calling over a cop and getting you thrown out.
  • In the past, the kiddie stage was relatively small and was packed under the same large tent as the activities. It was hot and crowded, especially when the performers were on stage. This year, they moved to a larger stage and covered area and separated the activities into a sort of boardwalk area, each with their own tent. This was a good move in general. It was much easier to get to the activities and it meant it was less crowded and hot. However, they left the bank of port-a-potties that had been on their own between the kiddie area and the AT&T Blue Room stage. This meant that there were lines of adults through the middle of the kid stage area waiting for the bathroom. It was a little bit strange and possibly dangerous. I’ll get to a suggested remedy for my last rant.
  • This year, in addition to the kid-specific performers like The Sippy Cups and Farmer Jason, they started bringing one performer a day from one of the larger stages to the kid stage for a brief 15 minute set. Friday, it was Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Saturday was Ben Kweller and Sunday was Ziggy Marley. It’s a nice idea, but from my experience on Sunday with Ziggy Marley, it needs to be refined. The “kid friendly” performance was ruined by the droves of adults without kids who arrived for Ziggy’s three songs. If you were at that performance yesterday and you don’t have kids, you’re a complete loser. Thanks for screwing up a nice idea because you’re too damned lazy and selfish to deal with the other adults at the regular performance.
  • I really liked the little HEB kid store with snacks. That rocked. Please bring that back next year.

1396808051_1eaaffe28e_m.jpgThe solution to the port-a-potty problem and the guest performance problem is to fence off the kiddie area with a real fence instead of that one foot high white fence and require adults entering the area to have a kid with them. It’ll be a bit of an inconvenience if mom takes the kids in and then dad later follows, but if you publicize it ahead of time, I think we can deal with it. You could cut down on the number of port-a-potties, but basically make the remaining ones for families only. You’d also keep out the selfish pricks for the guest performances.

After having our fill of Kiddie Limits, we headed to Common and Bloc Party over at the Dell and AT&T stages. We picked a spot in between the two as Common started his set. I, for one, thought the Common for Rodrigo Y Gabrela was an improvement. Bloc Party also got the crowd going. Part of me wishes we had stayed at the beach area and checked out Midlake and Devotchka. I’ve heard good things about both bands and it sounds like they also gave worthy performances.

1396809467_38076bdaf5_m.jpgAfter Bloc Party, we moved to get a good spot for Wilco at the AMD stage. The sound problems at AMD continued. We decided to stay back from the second set of speakers because they were blaring as Lucinda Williams finished her set, but when Wilco started, you could barely hear them. I’m a relatively recent fan of Wilco. I have a couple of Uncle Tupelo CDs…I’d seen past ACL performances and caught songs here and there over the past several years, but hadn’t ever bought any of their stuff. I got a lot more interested after seeing the Jeff Tweedy solo performance at Hogg Auditorium earlier this year. I picked up Sky Blue Sky for a road trip earlier this summer and it turned out to be a good road CD. It’s heavily 70s influenced. They played 5 tracks from it: “You Are My Face”, “Impossible Germany”, “Side With The Seeds”, “Hate It Here”, and “Walken”. The sun set during their time slot and it made for a really nice moment that I attempted to capture with the crappy video on my digital camera.

We were in a good mood after Wilco and debated as we walked toward Decemberists and Dylan if we might just be better off calling it a day. The view as we topped the hill to go to the Dell and AT&T stages made up our minds for us. I’m not really a fan of crowds anyway, so the sight of the sea of humanity that was filling up the east end of Zilker Park halted us and turned us toward the exits. Sorry, Bob, all due respect, but I have to go with Monk’s assessment of you…from the mouths of babes.

Here’s my Flickr set and ACL’s own Daily Wrap with photos, blogs and set lists.

1 Comment so far

  1. Kelly A. (unregistered) on September 23rd, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

    What a weekend, I agree! I still can’t believe I missed the Muse show. I also missed Robert Earl Keen, who i haven’t seen since I was in college! (how can you not love the Texas-beer drinkin’ tunes of Robert Earl?) I have to admit though, Sept. in Austin is still HOT..I don’t see why they have the festival in November like the South Padre International Music Festival!

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