Starting way before the whispers of a line-up have begun, Austin City Limits is already selling tickets. Loyal customers blindly buy three-day passes, banking on the consistent line-up delivery each year. In its 10th year, the Live Music Capitol of the World’s festival has risen to prominence and can easily stand its own against classics like Bonnaroo, Coachella, and Lollapalooza. Featuring legendary acts and indie darlings side-by-side, this year’s line-up, Friday-Sunday, October 8th-10th, went unmarred by last year’s cancellations and downpour.
Devendra Banhart & The Grogs (2 – 3p.m., AMD Stage)
Although his sound is exotic, don’t let Devendra fool you. He is a native Texan hailing from Houston. Despite this, the folk crooner rarely makes it to the Live Music Capitol of the World. Banhart’s set ranged from funky to folked-out, taking the afternoon crowd on a delightful roller caster blend of styles that caught all of fans ranging from devotees to his organic beginnings to his Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist converts.
Yeasayer (4 – 5p.m., AMD Stage)
Perhaps my hopes were too high for Yeasayer. Odd Blood (QRO review) tore through my spring and summer playlists, and countless references have raved about their fearless live shows. I am going to give it up to being an off day, because the band’s sound lacked their usual vivacity and punch. Instead of the regular crunch of their bass beats, Yeasayer seemed to ooze out the sound rather than perform it. After a heavy-touring summer, this could be explained by exhaustion, or maybe too much partying the night before. Yeasayer wasn’t necessarily bad, but there was something that was not translating correctly between their album work and live sound.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (5 – 6p.m., Zync Stage)
The energy is unavoidable with a twelve-piece band. Crammed on the Zync Stage, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros faced a giant crowd surely lured there by their infectious single “Home”. The band had the connection of a family, playing together with synchronicity and a jubilant air. Even with the melee of instruments present on stage, the sound never once became cluttered, but remained pure and light. Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos’ vocals soared jubilantly, and their affection and familiarity gave the impression you were watching a private jam session rather than a giant festival performance.
The Flaming Lips (6 – 7p.m., AMD Stage)
What to say about Wayne Coyne and his motley crew? You can go to any Flaming Lips performance with certain expectations and they continually and effortlessly deliver. After a warning from Coyne that he would be taking to his renowned ‘space bubble’, and rolling over the crowd during parts of the show, the Flips launched into a raucous set that zoomed through the expanse of their career. From the fuzzed out guitar of “She Don’t Use Jelly” to the ambiance of “Do You Realize??”, the Flips’ set was perfect, save for its brevity.
The National (7 – 8p.m., Honda Stage)
If there could be a perfect band to chill out to before venturing to the obnoxiously large crowd that was already gathering for The Eagles, it is The National. Not to say that the set was unexciting, but the crowd seemed more in awe of the swell of sound pouring from the Honda Stage rather being concerned with if they could squeeze three feet closer to the stage. In the midst of their tour with Owen Pallett (QRO live review), The National seemed to slip into a well-oiled set that featured the brightest points of their career, most notably drawing from Alligator and Boxer (QRO review), but including fresh material from High Violet (QRO review). Their performance can be equated to the most satisfying moment of calm before a storm, keeping everything tucked into neat and practiced mediums but simultaneously unleashing a whirlwind of energy.