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Concert Review: ACL Festival, Sunday October 4th

October 7, 2009

Muddy Feet

So I already admitted that I didn’t actually go to the festival on Sunday.  After standing literally all day on Saturday and getting rained on for most of the day, I ventured out on Sunday to try to find rain boots.  We tried several places and, of course, they were all sold out except for children’s sizes.  At Academy, people were fighting over snow boots.  We had drudged through some of the mud the night before (see pic above – and that was after I’d rinsed them off), and it had apparently gotten much worse.

Unfortunately, there was just no way we were going to hack it.  I was pretty disappointed until I realized that ACL was broadcasting most of the shows I wanted to see anyway on the web.  I hooked up my laptop to our television and we had a full day of music, probably even seeing more shows than we would have at the festival (and protecting my germophobe husband from the rash-giving Dillo Dirt).  So my reviews for Sunday will be of the shows I watched on the web, and if you don’t like it, don’t read it.  Just kidding…read it anyway.  And if you really want to see what I thought of the shows I saw live, then click on my reviews of Friday and Saturday.

Best Veteran Band Performance:

The B-52s

One never knows how a performance from a band like the B-52s is going to play out.  They’re older, they haven’t really had a recent hit, they were playing early in the day…but they pulled it out, giving a great, crowd-pleasing performance.  Yeah, so what if Fred looked bored?  That’s his bag (see pic above!).  Kate and Cindy sounded really smooth, especially on “Roam”, and their performance of it actually made me appreciate how great their vocals mesh together.  It was a solid hour of quirky pop, they had an awesome backdrop on the stage, and that was about all I could ask for.

Performance I Wish I’d Been There For:

Heartless Bastards

Wow…I was blown away by this performance.  It’s been a long time since a singer’s voice really stuck out and grabbed my attention, but Erika Wennerstrom is totally amazing.  Her gruff, whiskey-soaked style works in a number of different ways, and she manages to use it to its fullest, nuanced capabilities.  Not only that; the band is great, turning out crunchy rock tunes with lots of attitude, skill, thought, and stage presence.  The Heartless Bastards performance made me wish I’d been at the festival on Sunday.  I would have loved to have seen it in person.

Worst Veteran Band Performance:

The Toadies

Wow…but not in a good way this time.  The Toadies managed to bore me from dozens of miles away, and the crowd didn’t look too enthused either.  Lead singer, Todd Lewis, can’t hit the creepy notes that made The Toadies famous in the ’90s anymore.  His voice just doesn’t sound the same.  All in all, the band’s generic brand of alternative did not translate into a memorable mid-day festival performance.

Click the jump to see what I thought was the worst show of the festival, and which performance I called “confusing”! 

Worst Show of the Festival, Period:

Passion Pit

Sorry to all the Passion Pit fans out there…I thought this was going to be an interesting show, but I just didn’t get it at all.  Singer Michael Angelakos’ overzealous use of the falsetto drowned out the best aspects of the bands electro-pop beats, and his stage presence seemed all put on.  When the cameras scanned the audiences and I saw mostly tween-age girls, I realized the appeal of the falsetto, and didn’t like it even more.  If I had been at this show, I absolutely would have left a couple of songs in.  I can’t really say why the live performance bugged me so much…I’ve heard their songs on the radio and thought some of them were cool.  But this show just flat out was not good.

Most Satisfying Festival-y Show:

Ben Harper and Relentless7

When you think about going to a festival and seeing a show, this is what you think of.  Ben Harper is an intense, alluring performer and his band hit all the right notes for an early evening performance.  Admittedly, I’m not the biggest Ben Harper record fan in general, but I do think his style is suited perfectly for a festival.  Incredible slide-guitar playing, a genuine quality, and real commitment to performing…what else can you ask for in a festival show?  Excellent is all I can really say.

Most Confusing Performance:

Michael Franti and Spearhead

Before all the people who were actually at this show start lecturing me about “vibe”, let me explain what I mean by confusing.  Basically what I mean is that personally, I found quite a lot of things to like about this set, and also quite a lot of things that I didn’t like at all.  The good: obviously, the musicianship for a world reggae band was top-notch. The bad: it’s just one of my pet peeves about musicians in general that they not take themselves too seriously and there were a couple of spots when Franti veered a little too close to Manu Chao territory for my personal preference.  Some of the lyrics were a little cliché, some of the songs a little too self-satisfied, etc.  Was it a great show?  Absolutely.  I have enormous respect for anyone who can work up a crowd and truly inspire people.  And Franti definitely seemed like a “man of the people”, bringing audience members on the stage and even jumping into the crowd himself.  So, I liked it, but also didn’t care for it as much…hence the title of most confusing show.

So that’s been my ACL review; hope you enjoyed it!  My video, ACL in 10, will be up by the end of the week!  And don’t forget the mad scramble to buy $50 tickets tomorrow!!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 22, 2009 3:34 pm

    Good call on the Worst Show of the Festival. My momma said if you cant say anything nice, then dont say anything at all, but she wasnt at ACL and Passion Pit was. This show was beyond awful. I have never heard them on an album before and their performance ensured that I never will. In fact, whenever I pull some crap out of my ear now, I will think of Passion Pit. Michael Angelakos’ neutered-choir-boy “singing” killed any chance of even trying to like this performance. Does he sing falsetto on every single song normally, or was this just an extra special treat for ACL? I wish I could un-hear this garbage. Sorry momma, it had to be said.


  1. My Guest Review for AGMG: The Heartless Bastards «

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