UPDATE Highlights from Austin City Limits 2010 – including performances by The Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, Spoon, Vampire Weekend, Phish, LCD Soundsystem, Muse and Slightly Stupid – are now being broadcasted on Palladia. Watch VH1’s backstage interview from the fest with Wayne Coyne here – Vampire Weekend here. I’ll continually update new showings here. Double check your local listings:
Friday, April 20 – 4:00 PM
Saturday, May 12 – 2:00 AM
Saturday, June 18, 2011 – 9:00 PM (Palladia premiere)
Sunday, June 19 – 12:00 AM, 3:00 PM
Monday, June 20 – 12:00 PM
Tuesday, June 21 – 10:00 PM
Wednesday, June 29 – 6:00 PM
Saturday, July 02 – 4:00 AM
Monday, July 04 – 8:00 PM
Thursday, July 07 – 1:00 PM
Tuesday, July 19 – 8:00 PM
Sunday, July 24 – 5:00 PM
Wednesday, July 27 – 10:00 AM
Saturday, July 30 – 3:00 AM
Friday, August 05 – 3:00 PM
Monday, August 29 – 3:00 PM
Sunday, September 04 – 9:00 AM
Saturday, September 10 – 7:00 AM
Thursday, September 15 – 1:00 PM
Wednesday, September 28 – 10:00 PM
Monday, October 17 – 5:00 PM
Sunday, October 30 – 2:00 AM
Friday, November 04 – 9:00 PM
Sunday, December 04 – 10:00 PM
Friday, December 16 – 12:00 PM
Sunday, January 1, 2012 – 8:00 AM
Thursday, January 12 – 4:00 AM
Monday, January 16 – 11:00 PM
Saturday, January 28 – 10:00 AM
Wednesday, February 1 – 3:00 PM
Monday, February 20 – 10:00 PM
Tuesday, February 28 – 4:00 PM
Tuesday, March 13 – 11:00 PM
Saturday, March 17 – 3:00 PM
“Anytime I have an opportunity to see them, I’m going to be there. You never know what to expect from Wayne [Coyne]. I’m hoping to book them in our new venue next year as one of the first shows, because I know they’re going to blow the roof off the place like they always do.”
–Terry Lickona, Austin City Limits executive producer, explaining why The Flaming Lips are a top pick at his festival, quoted by Spinner
“This is the most beautiful night Austin’s had all year”
–Wayne Coyne to Austin City Limits crowd on 10/10/10, as quoted by Spinner
1:06 in this video is truly a “must see” moment of ACL ’10:
Day 3 of Austin City Limits 2010 – Sunday, October 10th, that’s 10/10/10 – closed the festival with many of the weekend’s peak moments.
First there was Warpaint: a deservingly hyped young band that won over critics in 2009 and early 2010 with their debut EP and celebrated sets at SXSW, Lollapalooza and Reading. The Fool, their full-length debut, dropped a couple weeks after ACL (Oct 26, 2010), but even without an album officially to their name, repute as the best new band at ACL 2010 set in. The buzz started the night before with their gig opening for Sonic Youth at Austin’s La Zona Rosa, described as “shockingly fun” by austin360. The same review went on to explain, “Their ACL set proper seemed a little more subdued, but that might have been, you know, exhaustion from playing a killer set a mere 12 hours before. [Bassist Jenny] Lindberg still seemed the engine that moved the music…”
Likewise Ted Leo and the Pharmacists’ midday set stood out and rocked the last day of ACL into motion: “Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (who stopped by Norman’s Opolis last week on their way south to Austin) took to the Budweiser Stage at 12:30 p.m., playing a cover song by The Eagles, who would appear there nearly eight hours later. Leo contorted his face, pummeling the microphone while his super-simple stage setup looked comically minimal on the enormous stage, which he and his bandmates filled with their swelling punk rock.” – Oklahoma Daily
“If there were any disgruntled Eagles fans in the audience, it wasn’t showing. The crowd size was modest but there was headbanging-a-plenty as Leo ripped through a bang-on 45-minute set of blue-collar indie punk, played nice and fast and functioning as the perfect primer for a day’s worth of rocking out.” – austin360.com
Frank Turner’s sets have been the trump cards in many summer 2010 festivals’ schedules – from his charming solo set in an intimate Bonnaroo tent in early June, to rocking the crowds with his band at Germany’s Area 4 Festival in late August. Turner was a hidden highlight of ACL’s Sunday early afternoon as well …
…as were the Dawes and Devendra Banhart and the Grogs (click the links on their names to watch); the latter set streamed at http://www.aclfestival.com/webcast.
AV Club: “Call it a gift from Mother Nature, karmic retribution, or just a stroke of good, weather-related luck, but this past weekend was exactly the kind C3 Presents was hoping for when it moved the Austin City Limits Music Festival from the hellish depths of early September to the presumably cooler days of early October. Three days without a single drop of precipitation brought an estimated 75,000 people out to Zilker Park—up from 65,000 last year, many of which still bear the deep, psychological scars of that weekend spent knee-deep in Dillo Dirt. The agreeable weather made for a more enjoyable festival, though it still had its rough spots—mostly folding chair-related.”
rollingstone.com: “It was easily the tamest day of the festival — the “Austin Eats” row of food merchants, which featured everything from sausage-peddlers to Stubbs’ Barbeque, looked especially inviting. But the day did feature one big spectacle in the Flaming Lips’ early-evening set. Beforehand, Lips frontman Wayne Coyne chatted with typical warmth and enthusiasm about Austin (“We’ve been coming here since 1984,” he said. “It was one of the only places that’d led us play back then”)”
blogs.houstonpress.com: “Today will close out with Band of Horses, The National, Norah Jones, The Flaming Lips and the headlining band The Eagles. The only one of those looking to be a spectacle of festival-level proportions is the Lips. Anyone who was at Summer Fest in June will agree with that. No telling if there will be a mass exodus for The Eagles, or if people will stay in reverence.”
blogs.houstonpress.com: “we met the Lips’ Wayne Coyne in the media tent and thanked him for the band’s appearance at Free Press Summer Fest, which was arguably one of the most magical shows Houston will see this year. A few hours later he stopped back for some free Salt Lick biscuits, fried chicken and sugar-free Red Bull. He’s just like all of us, except he crawls out of vaginas onstage.”
Austin City Limits poster art by Wayne Coyne, click here for the low down on a version of this poster printed with Wayne’s blood.
Oklahoma Daily: “Few in the world of popular music exhibit such an incredible joie de vivre as this dude. During the two decades and change that the Flaming Lips have been active, he’s risen from a very dark, bizarre place to much happier times headlining music festivals and doing whatever the hell he can think of to entertain people who come to his band’s shows.
He does everything within his power to infect others with the realization that life is beautiful, fun and most of all, that it’s worth engaging to the fullest extent of one’s creativity.
Without this belief, I imagine few would ever venture out to attend a music festival, let alone build one from the ground up like Austin City Limits. So kudos to Wayne Coyne for not only embodying the spirit of a music festival, but doing your part to excite its patrons.
The festival environment was just begging the band’s best and they delivered, rocking the crowd stupid with the sludgy metal MGMT collaboration “Worm Mountain” from “Embryonic.” But not before the band took the stage by way of a flashing, onscreen birth canal and Wayne’s famed space bubble.
They played a terrific festival set that showcased their great range, with popular rock anthems (“She Don’t Use Jelly”), evilly-tinged psychedelia (“Silver Trembling Hands”) and the we’re-all-one closer, the official Oklahoma State Rock Song “Do You Realize??” Plenty of other gimmicks filled the stage, but they’re too many to recount.
The National started shortly after the Lips finally wandered offstage (they tend to get really attached to their audiences, so it’s tough for them to leave), starting with “Anyone’s Ghost” from one of this year’s best albums, “High Violet.”
The greatest critical rip on The National is that they can be a bit boring. “High Violet” largely dissuaded this notion, as did the Brooklyn quintet’s performance under the bright lights. Singer Matt Berninger often violently screamed during choruses where he’s often more restrained and reasonable-sounding on their records. It lent a thrilling edge to the songs, each about personal regret, loss, paranoia and alienation.
They sure were hilarious between songs, though. After dedicating one of the last in the set to a stagehand, Berninger explained why: “Jim’s going on tour with some guy named, ‘Suf-yan’, “Suf…jan,” I don’t know.”
They sprinkled in popular older tracks (“Mr. November,” “Squalor Victoria” and “Fake Empire”) amid new ones, finishing the set with “Afraid of Everyone,” twin brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner’s guitars chugging along, spewing feedback across the faces of the crowd. They returned after an encore request, which Berninger said they were allowed by a gracious Glenn Frey, who he claimed to have seen in the shower in the artist village earlier that day.”
“about marriage and cannibalism. Mostly about marriage. Some cannibalism.”
– Matt Berninger explaining “Conversation 16″ to the crowd (a review of The National here)
Elsewhere, Wayne Coyne explained to Rolling Stone, “The beauty of a festival is that [the crowd] is not all there to see you — they’re partying. That frees you up to not worry that you didn’t have ten hours to set up your laser beams.”
rollingstone.com: “Before their set, National frontman Matt Berninger chatted about the big year his band are having: Their latest album, High Violet, hit Number Three on the pop charts, and they just headlined Radio City Music Hall. “We’re peaking now,” Berninger told Rolling Stone, before donning a suit and playing before a couple thousand fans, “and we’re trying to peak as well as possible.
At 6 p.m., Coyne appeared in his now-familiar giant plastic bubble, which he rode out into the crowd. The Lips’ set was full of visuals like that one: The band, flanked by two large groups of orange-clad dancers, also played around with giant yellow balloons and megaphones that shot out red smoke, and the big screen behind them flashed colorful psychedelic images.
The pacing to the set was odd: Pauses between songs went a little too long, and one call-and-response bit (where Coyne asked the audience to mimic the sounds of various objects, like motorcylces and bumblebees) went way too long. But Coyne was an earnest cheerleader: “I love you! Come on!” he said at one point; at another he called ACL “one of the great festivals in the world.” And the Lips closed out their set with a Big Rock moment that was kind of touching, launching into “Do You Realize??” while a couple thousand sunburned audience members — including many whose attention had been wandering till right then — sung along to Coyne’s sweetly warbled lyrics.”
examiner.com: “The Flaming Lips are a band that frequently stops in Austin to bring their crazy road show to the masses… Wayne Coyne is has earned legend status for his showmanship.”
pegasusnews.com: “There were two big differences between the Flaming Lips at ACL and The Flaming Lips at NX35 in Denton last March. First of all, the power stayed on for the entire performance, the one thing that marred the NX35 show. The second glaring difference was time. At NX35, they went onstage at dusk. The full effects of the show were felt in the dark, and it went on for hours. Watching them perform in the middle of the afternoon at ACL for only one hour wasn’t exactly the same. Although, Coyne was as energetic and animated as ever. And for him, that is something that has and hopefully will always remain the same.
Because their set was so short (unfortunately, they weren’t a headliner), the music was crammed into a small show. A lot of their songs have long instrumentals or introductions, so they chose to play those entirely instead of cramming in a lot of material. After their crescendo entrance, “She Don’t Use Jelly” simplified things and allowed us to hear Coyne’s raspy voice that makes this band so good. A lot of the fans knew this one. “Ego’s Last Stand” brought the volume back, deafening ears and making any seat within hearing distance worthwhile.
Of course, they saved one of their biggest and most well known hits for last. As “Do You Realize?” began, friends and couples alike cuddled together and relished this live legendary band. Some were even crying! Coyne started with just his voice and the piano and crashed into the chorus with the entire band and their instruments. Needless to say, The Lips know how to put on a show.”
“BEST REASON NOT TO MESS WITH TEXAS: MIDLAKE
While acts with Texas roots dotted the ACL lineup, the epic early Sunday evening set by this seven-piece from the North Texas college town of Denton threatened to top them all. Keen to combine powerhouse, Crazy Horse-style jams on songs that kicked off with dual flute solos, the band showcased a made-in-the-Lonestar State boldness — especially on set closer “Head Home,” which was blown up from its three and a half minute album version to a freaked-out epic jam, with four guitars and two sets of keyboards helping fill the stage with a noise as big as Texas.
BEST ENTRANCE: THE FLAMING LIPS
Even though they’ve been doing it for years, the Flaming Lips’ festival stage entrance never fails to blow minds. In the center of a set covered in orange — orange set-pieces, orange gear, orange-clad roadies and stagehands — an orange ramp appeared, strategically placed near the bottom of the LED-projection of a psychedelic vagina. It was from this opening that a slot (sorry!) opened, and the band members, one by one, wandered down to stage level. Ambient noise built as the band’s high priest, Wayne Coyne, inflated his human-sized “space bubble,” and it reached a crescendo as he rolled into the crowd. Emerging from the bubble, he retrieved a smoke-spewing megaphone to sing Embryonic’s “Worm Mountain” as dancers appeared on either side of the stage, wearing orange outfits and rocking out with the band. As they went into their second number, “Silver Trembling Hands,” Coyne exhorted the audience to scream, offering specific instructions for the kind he wanted (“oww-oww-oww-oww-OWWWWW!”) before climbing onto the shoulders of a guy in a bear suit to sing the song.
BEST DISPLAY OF INTENSITY FROM A GUY DRESSED LIKE DON DRAPER: THE NATIONAL
The National’s Matt Berninger, smartly dressed in a full three-piece suit, looked every inch the dapper gentlemen during the band’s late Sunday evening set. That didn’t stop him from fully unleashing his inner rock and roll animal, however, as he growled through “Afraid of Everyone,” off this year’s High Violet, pounding the mic into his head and lurching his body throughout. The passionate performance continued into “Conversation 16″ as the captivating frontman seemed genuinely moved by his own lyrics, even though he never so much as unbuttoned his vest. It’s rare you see a guy as well-dressed as Berninger positively shriek the opening verse of a song like “Abel,” but he delivered the intensity while looking sharp.”
VH1 also concurred, check out the top of their list:
“With 130 bands performing over three sunny days, we couldn’t possibly catch all the action at this year’s Austin City Limits music fest. So we asked you to contribute to VH1’s Top 20 Moments from ACL by tweeting pictures using #ACLtop20 — and you delivered!
1. Festival Costumes
2. Witnessing Wayne Coyne’s Antics
We’re not sure whether it was more fun to interview Wayne Coyne (pictured with VH1’s Janell Snowden) of The Flaming Lips or watch his on-stage antics. It’s one thing to see him crowd-surf in his space bubble on TV, and it’s another to witness it from a few yards away. Thanks to ehinojos for the twit pic of Wayne Coyne riding the bear.
3. Listening to The National
The National provided the polar opposite experience of The Flaming Lips at ACL this year. They were all business, no spectacle — and it worked. The sound was so sharp and the musicianship so good we felt like we were blasting high-end headphones.”
Also playing Sunday: White Rabbits (pictured below, left)– 12:30 to 1:15, Yeasayer – 4:00 to 5:00 (pictured below, right; webcast at aclfestival.com), Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue – 4:00 to 5:00, Robert Earl Keen – 4:00 to 5:00, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – 5:00 to 6:00 (8:00 webcast at aclfestival.com), Cage the Elephant – 7:15 to 8:00, Richard Thompson – 7:00 to 8:00, Norah Jones – 7:00 to 8:00, The Eagles – 8:00 to 10:00 and others.
Gayngs were scheduled to play a streamed set at 3:00 but when their bus disappeared with their equipment, they had no choice but to cancel, stating: “After a sleepless, worry-full night, the band made every attempt to borrow and backline equipment so the show could go on, however, we regret to announce that we will not be able to perform without the necessary equipment that was taken by the bus.” The exact reason the bus left is disputed, though the initially reported explanation – a burglary – seems untrue. “The bus and all the band’s gear have turned up in Nashville, where the owner of the bus company is based. He says the band was days late paying a $6,000 bill for using the bus, so he instructed the driver to return home.”
seattlepi.com: “The goal of the people at ACL, is that you leave here and live the rest of your year like there’s no f-king tomorrow”… Amidst all the chaos, Coyne, lead singer of The Flaming Lips, had summed up the 2010 Austin City Limits Music Festival in that one sentence. Everything that happened at Zilker Park this past weekend came together; every music fan had now learned how to love music harder, and how to live a little more passionately, and to take all the joy, pain, misery, confusion, and love of all the bands they heard with them wherever they go.”
AV Club: “You can’t talk about sensory overload without mentioning The Flaming Lips, whose outsized, kaleidoscopic live spectacle doesn’t map as well to last year’s Embryonic as it did to the songs of The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. That discrepancy might have been the cause of frontman Wayne Coyne’s buzzkilling goading, an approach that took alt-rock’s crazy uncle and transformed him into the type of relative who’d yell at a 6-year-old for not smiling for the family portrait. Coyne practically coerced the crowd into participating in the call-and-response game of “I Can Be A Frog,” one of the few Embryonic tracks that embodies the whimsy the Lips’ stage show now strains to project. That record was rightfully praised for signaling a new era for the band—perhaps the live show should follow suit. After all, Embryonic’s dark, psychedelic noise doesn’t scream “confetti guns.”
billboard.com: “Sonic Youth on the Honda stage Friday rocked out something fierce. 57-year-old Kim Gordon danced sexy wearing gold lamé, her still youthful 52-year-old hubbie Thurston Moore attacked his guitar with a file, and though the shtick hadn’t changed much since a quarter-century ago, it still worked. Then on Sunday evening on the AMD stage, the Flaming Lips – led by Wayne Coyne, pushing 50 – didn’t exactly kick out the Oklahoma acid-rock jams like they used to back in their own struggling mid ’80s, but at least they made the overabundance of fans wearing Pink Floyd T-shirts happy, particularly with their films of great big eyeballs and roaring lions.”
absolutepunk.net/journal: “I caught the end of Yeasayers jamming set, and when the crowd dispersed, I streamlined to the front to wait an hour for The Flaming Lips. Much respect to the band for coming out and sound checking their own equipment. Also, Wayne Coyne ended up coming out to politely warn the crowd that he was coming out into the crowd in a bubble, and to make sure no one would push and shove, because he was going to do his best to make his way to everyone.
The Flaming Lips did not disappoint. Though their set was mostly new material, jams like “She Don’t Use Jelly” and the closing and beautiful “Do You Realize?” against the sunset closed the weekend wonderfully. Yes, I wish the set was a bit longer. Yes, I wish they played at 8 p.m. when the sun was blocked out and all you would see where the lights radiating from the stage. But alas, I still witnessed a great set by a great band.
That was my weekend. I didn’t catch the National – though I heard half their set waiting for the shuttle back downtown – and The Eagles are in my top five least favorite classic rock bands. No, ending on “Do You Realize?” and covered in confetti was just fine with me and my first experience at Austin City Limits.”
So what will ACL 2011 bring??? A hint was dropped three days after the ’10 festival (hey, wouldn’t it be awesome if these dudes played In the Court of the Crimson King with their fans, The Flaming Lips!)
Follow highlights from music festivals at twitter/FutureHeartDay!