ACL: Molly's Revenge & Other Encounters

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Jim Bricker
Coldplay: Also with the pretty lights.
Check out all of our coverage from ACL 2011, including our hottest crowd shots and our slideshow from Friday featuring Kanye West and Coldplay.

At Zilker field. As Friday's shadows lengthened, a young woman - tall, pale, boots - approached Rocks Off.

"Are you going to Pretty Lights?"

"I don't think so."

"Why not?"

"I don't know."

"Do you know where I can get some Molly?"

"Uhhh... no."

Note to self: Find out what 'Molly' is.

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Jim Bricker
Kurt Vile
Molly, fellow old people, is MDMA, better known as Ecstasy. Rocks Off did not in fact have any Molly, but we did see Foster the People for a while, and they're some pretty happy fellows. Lots of sweetness and drum triggers, and a crowd at least twice the size of any we've ever seen at the Google+ stage.

We can see the appeal, even if we didn't hear a lot of substance. The Bay City Rollers came to mind, except they would have no idea who the Bay City Rollers would be - this is a band for whom MGMT is classic rock, and incorporates a lot of their bliss, if not the psychedelic oddities.

Overheard During the Set: "They are really boring me - I was really hoping they wouldn't be boring, but they're boring me."

"They're fine."

"So much for your idea to run back and forth between stages."

"I think this is their popular song."

(during the actual popular song)

"I hate it that we're missing this song."

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Bright Eyes
Foster couldn't have been more different from the bands we saw on either side. Shaggy Kurt Vile & the Violators came across as a shogaze Lou Reed - walls of reverb and jagged guitar, petulant, art-damaged odes to freight trains and the like. Bright Eyes, who we saw around ACL 05, has bulked up his sound with disco electronics (et tu, Conor) and real Springsteen muscle. The lyrics of a song like "Landlocked Blues" might be a bit obtuse, but the emotions aren't.

We don't know how, except that we were so tired the only way to keep going was to keep moving, but we managed to see almost the entire diaspora of African-American diaspora in one hour: Blues of both the rural (North Mississippi All-Stars) and urban (Gary Clark Jr., with a fine R&B slow jam) varieties, and a funky, funky finale from soul man Charles Bradley.

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Nas
Marco Torres
We parked ourselves a football field or two away from Nas & Damien Marley for a half-hour under the green-and-gold flag of the United States of Bass: Marley exuberant and uplifting on his dad's "Exodus" and "Could You Be Loved," Nas sullen and swaggering on "Hate Me Now" and "Braveheart Party." Their hip-hop and reggae trains connected completely exactly once (that we heard), on "Road to Zion," a soul-drenched ballad with serious spiritual underpinnings.

And, wouldn't you know it, we did go see Pretty Lights. Lots of pretty lights. And processed vocals, samples, and melodies that soothed or agitated. Mostly ginormous beats that made the park quake, and a wicked Bahsten/Northeast accent that came out whenever the DJ asked the crowd to get the fuckin' pahty going. They had little trouble. Like Foster the People, this kind of music isn't our particular area of interest, but we can see the appeal. Never having met Molly, though, we can't say how she might have affected the outcome.


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