ACL Fest Preview: Ben Sollee and !!!

Categories: ACL Fest, Playbill

With eight stages rumbling with musical noises for nearly 12 hours a day, it's hard to fully grab a hold of the Austin City Limits Music Festival without having one or two bands slipping through your hands. With the festival getting such ridiculously amazing talent each year on each stage, one must do some advance recon so as to not fall victim to hype.

God forbid the planners book artists you dig at the same time, but it never fails. In 2007, LCD Soundsystem beat out M.I.A on our list. Sadly, we had to split the difference between My Morning Jacket and Wilco two days later; we still beat ourselves up over that one. That's some Sophie's Choice business right there, ya know. This year we are doing our homework early, instead of during the drive to Austin, nearly dying on I-10 fiddling with the iPod.

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Liz Linder
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Ben Sollee: Kentucky's own Ben Sollee reminds us of Randy Newman, if only Randy Newman played a cello instead of the piano. We discovered him a few months back during his quick in-store at Cactus Music, ahead of his show at House of Blues' Bronze Peacock Room.

Sollee's vocal register is somewhere between that of Newman's and Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons, and he somehow makes the usually dowdy cello swing and sound gritty. The only thing that's kind of annoying is how his music got sort of sucked up by the Obama machine during the last push of last year's campaign. His music isn't political at all, but somehow it got twisted as so. His "It's Not Impossible (Boys Don't Cry)" rubs off all the Estee Lauder off the Cure original and leaves all the emotion there raw and bare. It's more of a reboot of the Robert Smith-crooned song than a direct cover.

(4 p.m. Sunday, October 4, The Wildflower Center Stage.)

!!!: We have been digging these dudes hardcore since we heard "Me And Giuliani Down By The Schoolyard" way back in 2002 over the speakers at Soundwaves one lost Saturday night. Shit reminds us getting dressed to go be slutty on a dance floor somewhere, kind of like how the Rapture used to make our nights a hot mess back in the day. What's funny about the dance-punkers is that most outsiders would associate their organic rhythms with the scene that was thriving in New York City at that time, but the band actually hailed from Sacramento, California originally.

At one time !!! boasted nearly ten people onstage at one time, but this year's model is stripped down to six, including founder Tyler Pope, who has recently been doing time with LCD Soundsystem and helped ex-Hella drummer Zach Hill record his wondrous Astrological Straits album for Ipecac Records. !!! is currently mulling over a new album and plans to stay on the road till the end of the year playing sporadic dates. As for the pronunciation of the band's name, any quick one syllable utterances will work fine according to the band's website. We prefer to make the clicking noises from the film The Gods Must Be Crazy, but that's just us.

(2 p.m. Saturday, October 3, AMD West Stage.)

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