Live From The Austin City Limits Festival, Day 2

Brittanie Shey: When you go to a festival litke this, you're always looking for the discovery, the one band that either blows you away or causes you to alter all your expectations. Today it was Dan Black, a performer we caught only because there was nothing else going on. As soon as we get home, we're downloading his CD.

We headed off to see Broken Bells, who, while they make beautiful music, are not the best show live. They were boring and lackluster, and we needed to work off some energy. Black was on the festival's smallest stage, but when we arrived he already had the bodies thumpin'. Wikipedia categorizes him as "wonky pop," which seems to be a kind of slag particular to Britain, from whence he hails.

What he plays is electropop with a brain - he was cracking jokes about Nietzsche between songs, and working sexy moves stolen from Justin Tranter of Semi Precious Weapons while singing. And working the synth computers. He was backed by a single guitar player, which lends itself easily to Wham! comparisons (along with the '80s aesthetic), but they are so much more that that.

They were smart, and fun, and they rocked.

Broken Bells A.jpg
Marco Torres
Broken Bells


Gaslight Anthem oct 9.JPG
Marco Torres
Gaslight Anthem
Craig Hlavaty: We are currently sitting out an hour to get away from the heat, which made its heroic return this afternoon. Yesterday we were footloose and fancy free in the sun, having clammy hands and a cold nose, but today we are cursing our choice of black T-shirt, and whatever it was we did last night.

This afternoon we booked it from the front gate at 2:30 p.m. to see the Gaslight Anthem do their best version of the Bruce Springsteen and Thin Lizzy catalogs, rattling off cuts from this year's American Slang.

Lead singer Brian Fallon is an amiable frontman, crooning like a punk-rock Sinatra one minute and screaming his New Jersey head off the next. The new work stumbles a little, save for the title track of Slang, but the band's singles from 2008's The '59 Sound cooked us whole, especially "Miles Davis & The Cool."

Black Lips Oct 9.JPG
Marco Torres
Black Lips
You could hear Lucero in the distance, doing stuff not much different from the Gaslights, albeit with a decade or so on them. Ben Nichols' rasp is hard to mistake even in a crowded aural landscape like ACL on a Saturday afternoon.

Black Lips were a late addition to the festival, added a few months back, but they schooled the trendoids waiting for the xx to take the stage after them. Standouts were "O Katrina" and "Cold Hands." Each passing year finds their brand of garage-rock getting more muscly and aggressive.

Time to go do another lap around the park, while we try to dodge the overabundance of baby strollers and toddlers walking around the park. No, seriously. Austin looks like it's been (getting) busy this past year and a half.


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