ACL Day 3 Recap: Flaming Lips, The National, And We're Out!

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Photos by Marco Torres

For more photos from Sunday's final day of ACL, see our slideshow here.

If there was one band this member of Aftermath was most looking forward to seeing at ACL this weekend, it was the Flaming Lips. But explaining why requires a bit of a backstory.

From 1980 to 2003 (the first 23 years of our life) we lived in Oklahoma City. In the early '90s, just as we were getting into music, The Lips' "She Don't Use Jelly" became a minor college-rock radio hit. Our dad, whose musical genetics we inherited, introduced us to the band by bringing us along to Lips/Chainsaw Kittens concerts in hot parking lots just outside of the University of Oklahoma campus and at a warehouse basement called The Water Palace because of the leaky pipes above.

That song was a huge hit for the Lips, but their next few albums were more obscure. They got big in Japan but never really got famous until their critically acclaimed Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. It was then that the band began their massive arena-style tours, but somehow, every time they played in either Oklahoma or Texas, we missed them. For their most recent show in Houston, at Summer Fest, we were on a month-long sojourn to Sweden. And we've never been able to make it back home for the annual March of the Skeletons.

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What we're getting at here is that while we were born and raised on Transmissions From The Satellite Heart, it had been nearly 15 years since we'd seen a band we had always loved. In that time, a lot had changed, both for the band and for Aftermath.

Which is how we found ourself standing in a crowd of 20,000 people, crying to the novelty lyrics of "She Don't Use Jelly." We are so lame. "Do You Realize" was a given, but a song that only serves as a vessel for silly rhymes? Lamesville. We admit it.

Otherwise, the performance wasn't quite the transformative event we thought it could be. Wayne Coyne got in the bubble, yes, but that almost feels like a rote performance now. They played a lot of songs from their latest album, Embryonic, which we love, but the band also has so much other material that was ignored. We didn't want a greatest-hits show, but at times it felt like they were less focused on the music and more focused on the performance. The show was good. It just wasn't great.

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We closed out ACL 2010 listening to a few songs from The National, who sounded like cigarettes and chocolate. So many bands came to ACL with a brass section, but the ones who made the best use of it were The National and Spoon. We don't care if Bob Boilen of NPR said their live show makes him drowsy - the band's music is good enough to forgive a lack of energy onstage. Though we did have to get a cup of coffee at Chuy's before starting the drive back to Houston.

In spite of the ever-expanding crowd, ACL was a pretty painless experience this year. The grass at Zilker was soft, the weather was amazing, we didn't witness a single fight or even any boorish behavior, and we fell in love with a few new bands - Dan Black, White Rabbits and Black Lips (there's a theme there).

But we're gonna need a whole year to recover. The dates for ACL 2011 were just released today: Sept. 16-18.


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