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Concert Review: ACL Festival, Saturday October 3rd

October 6, 2009


The madness continues with my review of Saturday’s shows!

Most Surprisingly Awesome Show:


ChkChkChk Stage

I didn’t know how I’d feel about !!!.  Generally, I don’t feel good about things that are too-cool-for-school and having an unpronounceable name can definitely be seen as one of those things.  But !!! put on a kick-ass show, undoubtedly, erasing any reservations I had almost immediately when singer Nic Offer began busting awesome moves in the rain.  The show, early in the day on a big stage, was entertaining from beginning to end as !!! played incredibly danceable music and the singers put in their all (including the badass chick with the Britney T-shirt).


Nic ventured out into the audience several times working the crowd, and altogether, it was easily in the top 2 or 3 of just plain enjoyable shows.  It’s always great when a band goes above and beyond to revive the tired, hungover, and rain-addled masses.  For all those reasons, !!!’s set was one of my favorite festival experiences.

Most Ambitious Set:

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear

After !!! ended, we ran over to the Dell Stage to check out Grizzly Bear.  After listening to Veckatimest a few weeks ago, I was really looking forward to it.  We painstakingly edged our way in until we could hear the music over people talking (one of my rules of thumb for festival concerts – why go if you’re going to chit-chat during the whole thing?!), and I was not disappointed.  Grizzly Bear puts an enormous amount of effort into their albums, and it turns out, also into their stage performances.  The set was full of gorgeous tunes from Veckatimest that may not have enthralled the crowds that came to hear that-one-song, but anyone who was paying close attention surely was thoroughly impressed.  When it started to rain again near the end of the set, it only added to the ambiance.  When it ended, I was so into the moment I didn’t even realize it was over!  I can’t wait to see Grizzly Bear again live.

Click on the jump to see how I spent the rainy afternoon and which artist almost faced a riot!

Biggest Diva Moment:

Mos Def

Mos Def

After Grizzly Bear’s set ended, the rain really began to come down.  Thanks to our handy ponchos, we weren’t getting soaked, but it’s still a strange spoiled-human feeling not to be able to escape a rainfall.  We took cover under an umbrella near the food stands, drank, ate and waited around for the rain to slow.  Finally after about an hour, it had died down to a drizzle, and our crew headed out to see Mos Def.  We arrived at the stage about 40 minutes before he was to come on and because it was still raining and the ground was soaked, we couldn’t sit down.  Neither could the rest of the crowd; everyone was standing for well over 30 minutes until Mos Def was due to go on at 6 pm.

Then, 6 pm came and went.  Now, I can’t propose to know why Mos Def came out 20 minutes late…maybe the equipment was wet, maybe there was an unforeseen issue.  What I do know is that there were hundreds of people waiting for over an hour in the rain after a long day of standing around outside to see him, and when he finally did emerge, there was no explanation given whatsoever.  Not cool, Mos Def.  Not cool at all.  From my point in the crowd, many people left, more people talked about leaving, and there was a lot of shouting.

The show itself was pretty good; not particularly impressive given that we’d waited an extra 20 minutes to see it.  The most notable moment was when he covered Radiohead’s “All I Need”.

Biggest Breakthrough Moment:

Ghostland Observatory

Ghostland Screen

Austin-based two person band Ghostland Observatory had been tasked with closing the festival on Saturday night opposite Dave Matthews.  I didn’t see the crowd for Dave Matthews, but there was certainly a massive crowd of dedicated Austinites there for the electronic duo.  Ghostland absolutely stepped up to the plate and gave the crowd what they wanted and more.  The laser light show was THE best I have ever seen (enhanced even by the rainfall), and the band was essentially cloaked in an eery psychedelic glow on stage while the crowd sported glow stick jewelry.  Aaron Behrens had a surprising grasp of the huge stage, not holding back dance moves, including an extra provocative prowl (who thinks he and Nic Offer should have a dance contest?!  I do!) that had some ladies screaming.  Ghostland played songs off of all of their albums, including their latest, Robotique Majestique, and between the synth beats, Aaron’s fringed homage to the cowboy, the smoke, the lasers, and the extended electronic jams, they entranced the audience, proving they were indeed worthy of the closing spot.

Ghostland Band

Ghostland also provided the most buzzworthy moment of the festival (non-Pearl Jam related, that is) when they brought out the UT Marching Band during “The Band Marches On”.  It was truly epic, not to mention Ghostland’s music sounds fantastic played by a huge band.  Overall, a fantastic show to end the night, plus watching a relatively small, local band kill as a closer at a festival like this one was also really rewarding.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2009 2:15 pm

    I love, love, love your review on Ghostland! It couldn’t be more spot-on.

    I am going to link back to it in my short review for the Sweet Leaf Tea blog.

    Thanks for the great pictures too!

  2. October 22, 2009 2:21 pm

    I confess, I knew nothing about Ghostland Observatory until the setlist for ACL was released (I don’t live in Austin, sorry). I started listening to Robotique Majestique a few months before ACL and I became hooked. This was one of the best shows at ACL, Ghostland left me in awe, they were amazing live. I had listened to this CD for months with a huge misconception of the band, I thought Aaron Behrens was a woman! Not even joking. Seeing that “she” was “he” blew my mental image of the band, and left me feeling a little strange… I think I need to buy a new stereo system.


  1. “We Have Lost Ourselves Forever More…” : The Sip: The Sweet Leaf Tea Blog
  2. Docubloggers » Blog Archive » ACL Festival 2009

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