Two Weekends of Incredible Music-The Austin City Limits Music Festival
Austin’s Biggest Music Festival Showcases Some of Our Finest Homegrown Talent
This year’s ACL Festival featured such renowned acts as The Cure, Depeche Mode, Kings of Leon, Muse, The Mavericks, Wilco, The Joy Formidable, and HAIM, all who more than lived up to their reputation as being brilliant live performers.
Over a three-day weekend of music that would make any fan giddy, Austin’s local musicians were among the standouts. Despite some major competition, this town’s own acts shone very brightly.
The Court Yard Hounds, which features two of the ladies from the Dixie Chicks, began their road to ACL Fest with two blistering, sold out shows at The Continental Club on the previous Thursday night. Featuring sisters Marti Maguire and Emily Erwin, the Hounds produce more traditional, and more compelling music than their previous band. Without Natalie Maines, they seem liberated, and free to make the kind of foot-stomping, down home songs that showcase their talents.
With songs from their debut album, Court Yard Hounds, and their new release, Amelita, like “Rock All Night,” Watch Your Step,” and “I Miss You,” the sisters displayed the kind of harmonies that only siblings can achieve. Marti and Emily are clearly enjoying their side project with Court Yard Hounds, and with Brannen Temple on drums, they put on an energetic live show that does traditional Texas music proud.
One of the great comeback stories from the Austin music scene is the reunion of True Believers. Originally formed in 1982 by Austin luminaries Alejandro Escovedo and Jon Dee Graham, True Believers reunited a little more than a year ago at ACL’s Moody Theater for GrulkeFest, a tribute concert celebrating the life of Brent Grulke, the Creative Director of SXSW. The reunion was a resounding success, and judging from the overflow crowd at Zilker Tent last Saturday, the band is still a force to be reckoned with. Part hard rock, part roots music with a history steeped in Punk, True Believers’ music stands the test of time more than thirty years later.
As Alejandro proclaimed during their set, “We were trying to be a rock and roll band when the world did not want rock and roll.” The crowd at ACL clearly wanted it badly as they were treated to a new song inspired by Grulke called “Dedication,” as well as “Gipsy Son,” a hard-driving classic rock song that is signature True Believers. This band does the best version of AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top,” and it would have been great to hear this time around, but they still put on a superb, if not somewhat shortened set.
The Black Angels, one of the most anticipated bands of the Festival were perhaps the most impressive. With the mighty Stephanie Bailey on drums and Christian Bland on vocals, they are a unique and at times haunting act. Appropriately, The Black Angels take their name from a Velvet Underground song and their music has a raw 60s garage vibe, especially on tunes like “Entrance Song” and “Evil Things.” They are much more vivacious and animated than the Velvet Underground though, as their music has an exciting modern tone that feels almost cinematic at times. Bland’s voice is mesmerizing, especially during his set at ACL, when he often sounded like Alan Wilson from Canned Heat.
There is an ethereal quality to this band that makes them stirring and mysterious at the same time. The Black Angels are a band to watch, and it will not be long before they become international darlings as they embark on a tour of Europe and the UK. This is music that sends shivers up your spine, in the best way.
Photos: Jac Malloy
Other rising Austin bands like Shinyribs, The Peterson Brothers, and White Denim played stellar live sets. And true to Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World, this city is also now known for its incredible improvisational skills. After C3 Presents announced that they would be cancelling the last day of the second weekend of ACL Festival due to weather, they scrambled to find other venues for bands like Franz Ferdinand, Atoms for Peace, and Divine Fits to play. With the help of organizations like Austin Music People , FrontGate, and Transmission Events, they succeeded, making Sunday night feel a bit like SXSW. Spanning two weekends, this year’s ACL Fest was an experiment, and despite some interference from Mother Nature, it was a truly successful one.