Live From The Austin City Limits Festival, Day 1

Categories: ACL Fest

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Brittanie Shey
The Ettes
Brittanie Shey: Things seem incredibly crowded, and hotter than Houston, if that's even possible. The dust is already flying. Some of us here braved the bro-crowd at the Black Keys (see jump) but some of us, seeing the mile of bodies wobbling before the stage, decided to take in a somewhat smaller band.

We were glad we did. ACL's press info describes The Ettes as "Gossip with the bass turned up," but they're less dance-y and more primal. Singer Coco Hames sounds like Kathleen Hanna with a Southern accent. And while The Black Keys were playing to minions across the green of Zilker Park, The Ettes, who toured with the latter in 2008, tested music from their newest album on a small crowd of happy dancers.

We left the BMI Stage early to head over to catch Beach House, who were already in the midst of a jangly set at the Honda stage. A massive crowd had gathered, which was an impressive sight considering they just played Walter's in April. A large group had also formed to see Band of Heathens, which made getting to Beach House feel like swimming upstream.

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Brittanie Shey
Beach House, writ large
But once we got there, things felt all right. Thus is the effect of the dreamy duo from Baltimore. The crowd was easy-going, and the music, for just a few moments, made us feel like we were ending the summer at a rundown bungalow on Montauk instead of a sweaty, dusty park in the middle of Texas.

Highlight of the day? Hearing Girls (whom we've seen before) from the media tent. What are we looking forward to tonight? Spoon, Sonic Youth and the Strokes. It's alliterative!

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Craig Hlavaty
The Black Keys, back there somewhere.
Craig Hlavaty: The Black Keys, last in Houston a few weeks ago, created a bottleneck in the front of the AMD stage around 4 p.m., with a packed crowd either hunkering down for their set or the Strokes later in the evening. Either way, they had a throng of sweat and skin in front of them.

From what we could tell, the Keys' set was not much different, albeit abbreviated, from their recent appearance opening for Kings of Leon. The first few songs were just Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach working it out until they hit the newer material from this year's Brothers LP.

The set was plagued with sound issues, not the band's fault, that had them sounding tinny and distant. You either heard little or no drums one minute or all guitar. "Next Girl," though, was a face-ripper despite the hellish sound.

The Keys are best served in a smaller setting, so their assault can bounce of the walls and into your body cavity. Out in the middle of a park, amidst an oddly prevalent amount of strollers, we felt too detached from them.


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