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ACL Lineup: Reaction

May 18, 2010

The beans have been spilled and the ACL lineup has now been out for 10 hours, giving the most opinionated of us something to complain/gloat about this morning.  Much like the gal in the picture, early morning reactions have been decidedly mixed.

So, let’s play this game…I’ve decided to split things up into the prestigious categories of bands I’m Thrilled to see, bands I’m Looking Forward to, bands I Will See In Order to Judge, and finally, Blech.

But before we get started, I should say that my overall thoughts on the lineup is that it’s really pretty good.  There are more than enough bands I want to see to justify the ticket cost, and I love the ACL festival.  I’m super-excited about it every year (and there have been much, much worse lineups than this one) and this year is no exception.

The good: there’s a variety of bands appealing to different age groups (yes, I see that as a good thing), there’s a decent local band showing, and there’s a mix of buzzed about indie bands and bigger bands that currently have momentum.

The bad: there are a ton of ACL fest repeats this year (more than usual I think), this really terrible announcement video, and the fact that I could have made an OMG, 4 REALZ?? category out of some of the selections.  I think ACL might be afraid to break their own mold lest they alienate the old Austin hippies, the stuck-in-the-90s alt kids from other towns in Texas, or the uber indie-literate crowd.  If you look carefully at the line-up, it seems a little plug-n-play to me.  There’s one of this, one of that, and just enough of something else to not anger those people.  Like I said, I LOVE the fest, and I understand the motivation, but it does give the festival a certain reputation.  It doesn’t, however, stop people from coming, so they do have that going.

Moving on, after the jump are the specific bands I’m calling out as awesome, pretty good, hmm…maybe, or just, hell no!

Thrilled

The Flaming Lips
Gogol Bordello
Mayer Hawthorne

Yeah, that’s right.  I’m only totally thrilled about 3 bands total.  It goes without saying that I freakin’ love The Flaming Lips, as well as Gogol, but I’m also really excited about seeing Mayer Hawthorne.  I recently got his album and ever since I’ve been listening to his incredible doo-wop infused vocals, I’ve had more and more regret about missing all of his sets at SXSW.  So, yeah, this kind of worked out nicely.

Looking Forward to

LCD Soundsystem
Monsters of Folk
Broken Bells
Local Natives
The Very Best
Yeasayer
Balmorhea
Dan Black

The good news is that I’m genuinely looking forward to a bunch of other bands that will be at the fest.  What distinguishes these bands from the Thrilled list?  Quite frankly, I don’t love any of these bands.  Yet, anyway.  But, that’s my whole philosophy about ACL…see bands you haven’t seen before (or only seen once like Yeasayer), and then I usually either end of loving them or not.  The next time they appear on ACL’s lineup, they’ll be on a different list.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing LCD because they’re the enormous weirdo-electronic act of the festival this year (and they’re one of the more interesting of the genre in general), and Yeasayer because they’re just weird in a fun way.  MoF and Broken Bells are both very good and probably have shelf-lives, so it’ll be great to see them.  And Local Natives, The Very Best, Balmorhea, and Dan Black are all coming off of SXSW buzz (some heavier than others) and that should make for interesting and exciting sets.  Expect at least one break-out performance from that group.

Will See in Order to Judge

Muse
Beach House
The XX
Temper Trap
The Morning Benders
The National
Girls
Band of Horses

Alright, so these are bands that I’ve heard good things about and am currently either “meh” or totally undecided on.  Indie/hipster bands Girls, The XX, The Morning Benders, and Beach House have yet to completely sway me one way or the other on iTunes or live (I’m looking at you Morning Benders – the Levi’s/FADER Fort incident?  Yeah, I was there).  But I’m totally willing to have an open mind and give them all a chance, provided when I get there I’m not chased away by kids wearing skinny jeans in 100 degree heat.  As for my jousting partner Muse…I have the Radiohead-wannabe threats, you have “Uprising.”  See you at ACL.  <throws down gauntlet>…

Blech

The Eagles
Phish
Spoon
Vampire Weekend
Norah Jones

Sorry ACL.  I love you, but as predicted, your headliners are kinda blech.  What it really boils down to is this: Norah Jones is boring and overrated, Vampire Weekend is overrated and tries to hard, Spoon tries too hard and doesn’t pull it off, Phish is old and needs at least 5 hours in order to hypnotize everyone into thinking they’re The Grateful Dead, and…The Eagles?  Really?  The standard response from anyone under 60 has been a recall of this:

And that’s all I have to say about that.  Now it’s your turn.  Am I nuts?  What do you hate/love about the lineup?  And who are you looking to for a breakout performance?  Go!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2010 12:19 pm

    Nice post. I like the way you broke it down. I disagree heavily, but that’s OK. Give Phish a chance and maybe “trying too hard” isn’t such a bad thing? Spoon tries just the right amount. Ditto Vampire Weekend. Glad you still plan on going and giving bands a chance. Sticking with your format:

    Thrilled

    Phish
    Muse
    LCD Soundsystem
    The Strokes
    The National
    Flaming Lips
    Yeasayer
    Mayer Hawthorne
    Monsters of Folk

    Looking Forward to:

    The Black Keys
    Broken Bells
    Vampire Weekend
    Local Natives
    Miike Snow
    Spoon
    Beach House
    Band of Horses
    Trombone Shorty
    Speak
    Hockey

    Will See in Order to Judge

    Deadmau5
    Matt and Kim
    Sonic Youth
    Norah Jones
    The Temper Trap
    Gorgol Bordello
    Devendra Banhart

    Blech

    The Eagles
    Verve Pipe

    Here’s my full thoughts and a podcast on the line-up: http://www.festivalcrashers.com/2010/05/18/phish-eagles-muse-headlining-acl-2010-line-up/

    • May 18, 2010 12:49 pm

      Thanks for the comment Zack!

      I’ve tried giving Spoon a chance so many times, but I can’t get past the thought that they’re trying to sound like someone else and they come off as indistinguishable to me. I don’t hate them necessarily, but I can’t get into them at all.

      I do have a beef with Vampire Weekend though…I think they’re trying too hard to sound interesting, cribbing too much from world music, and the whole “we’re not really preppy, I swear!” thing just doesn’t ring true.

  2. seanningham permalink*
    May 18, 2010 12:57 pm

    I think ACL did a good job this year. There are several thousand people to please, and I think they have a nice cross section of bands to get that done. I don’t understand their choice of the Eagles, and I really don’t understand their choice of Norah Jones, but I’m sure a lot of folks are happy.

    All in all, I agree with AGMG’s lists, though I might move Mayer Hawthorne down to “Looking Forward to”.

  3. Jared permalink
    May 18, 2010 1:22 pm

    I’m really curious if the Phish heads (is that the term) will sweep up the remaining and craigslisted tickets… I read they gave Phish credit for record crowds at Bonnaroo last year.

    I stand corrected, you weren’t hard on Spoon, just dismissive 😉 And I think that’s quite reasonable. I haven’t been blown away by anything they’ve done, at least not enough to warrant the swooning following they have, but I still think they’re ok. Now that I think more about it, they’re like the Torchy’s Tacos of music. A slick, overpriced, hip-with-the-kids version of the taco truck next door.

    • May 18, 2010 1:30 pm

      Yeah, I wasn’t harsh on Spoon…I was, however, harsh on most of the other headliners. Hey what can I say? The first thing I thought of, I wrote. 🙂

      The Torchy’s Tacos of music…hmmm…I think I like that! Although I do have a soft spot for Torchy’s; those tacos are delicious.

      • Jared permalink
        May 18, 2010 1:38 pm

        You’ve truly created a safe space. I know my Torchy’s/Spoon comment won’t fly with some in the Austin community, but I felt enabled to express my true opinion because of your headliner harshness. You’re doing important work here!

      • May 18, 2010 1:42 pm

        Indeed, sir. Indeed. The fate of many things depends on people being able to express their true opinions on Spoon.

  4. May 18, 2010 1:37 pm

    Earlier today I called Spoon the Peanut butter and jelly of bands for Austinites b/c they’re always around and you can take them for granted. Torchy’s works too. 🙂

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