There are two types of people in the world: those that testify of the unparalleled experience that is the Austin City Limits Music Festival – and those that have never been there. With yet another extraordinarily diverse lineup of music luminaries, ACL 2013 Week 2 was the best thing since…well, Week 1. And notwithstanding a bit of a detour as to Day 3 – courtesy of Mother Nature – there was plenty to howl about.
And that, music fans, not so coincidentally brings us to the first of the best of Day 1. After their remarkable set on the Lady Bird Stage, it was tempting to suggest that Courtyard Hounds’ Emily Robison and Martie Maguire change their name to “the artists formerly known as two-thirds of the Dixie Chicks.”
With their otherworldly harmonies and honeysweet melodies, it boggles the mind to think that the Hounds have managed to fly under the musical radar for as long as they have. But their splendid set of tunes – rich on their recent released sophomore effort “Amelita” – was nothing short of stunning.
Their hypnotizing performance of “I Miss You” from their 2009 self-titled debut album reminded the thousands of epiphanous concertgoers just how good the singing sisters are – and just how much we’ve missed them.
And as long as we’re talking about surprisingly underappreciated performers, Holly Williams’ stint on the BMI Stage was revelatory. The insightful singer/songwriter mesmerized the crowd with cuts from her recently released third album, “The Highway.”
It would be easy to “blame” Williams’ astounding talent on her grandfather Hank and father Hank Jr. But the perceptive tunesmith has done it on her own, striking a balance between not worrying about living up to her family’s musical legacy while at the same time not trying to live it down.
Williams’ haunting rendition of “Gone Away From Me” was unforgettable. The enthralled crowd barely breathed as she mournfully sang, “July 3rd was a dreaded friend of mine / We’d all go down to the family plot in the Louisiana pines / Staring at that little baby’s grave / Stella was as young as she was brave.”
From there it was back to the Lady Bird Stage for a little bit of fun. – make that a whole lotta fun. And if there’s another group that attacks the stage with as much joyful abandon as operatic frontman Nate Ruess and his band of merry musical men, this music fan sure doesn’t know who they are.
After a rousing “Why Am I The One” from their platinum-selling second album “Some Nights,” rumor has it that ACL’s intrepid groundskeepers had to scramble to replace the turf in front of the stage due to the “hopped-up” fans’ efforts at “manicuring” the lawn with their feet.
This year’s ACL Festival didn’t give out an “Amazing Rhythm Aces Award.” But if they had, Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders (drums) and Nick O’Malley (bass) would have won it hands down. The rhythmists pounded the Monkeys through a blistering 15-song set highlighted by frontman Alex Turner and Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme sharing vocals on a powerful “Knee Socks.”
Homme’s cameo was steeped in unintentional irony as the QOTSA captain spent three months bedridden in 2010 from near fatal complications of knee surgery. The long since recovered and better-than-ever rocker followed up the Monkeys’ walk-on by leading his Queens charges through their own volcanic set, including a number of monstrous cuts from their first album in six years, 2013’s “Like Clockwork.”
Muse – guitarist Matthew Bellamy, bassist Christopher Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard – has been called the “heaviest power trio this side of Rush.” And let’s just say that the band’s weighty renditions of “Panic Station” and “Survival” on the Samsung Galaxy Stage more than justified the comparison.
Bellamy brilliantly channeled Jimi Hendrix with a “Star Spangled Banner” intro to “Hysteria” and for good measure cast a nod to Rage Against The Machine on “Stockholm Syndrome” with a “Freedom” outro.
And with that, fellow music fans, Day 1 of Week 2 came to a satisfying but reluctant close. On to Day 2!
You can read about Day 2 highlights here: http://www.examiner.com/review/best-of-acl-day-2-the-cure-for-what-ails-...