Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 6:03 p.m.
Elbow brought the Manchester rain.
And just like that, the heat returned.
The hot sun beat down on the wet grass, creating an inescapable humidity in Zilker Park on Sunday. As such, the people came prepared to sweat it out. The same guys hawking ponchos yesterday now had packets of sunscreen for sale at a "discount" rate.
It was the final push of Austin City Limits Music Festival. The final day. Fans who were already exhausted from the previous two days would have to tough it out, because with Sunday came the strongest lineup of the festival. The Walkmen, Broken Social Scene, and Manchester's Elbow, who rarely play the States, were all cued up and ready to go.
Hit the jump to see our micro reviews of those shows.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
The band's fun and, at times, majestic pop privided nice soundtrack for fans sitting in the hot sun at the AMD stage waiting for The Walkmen. Singer Joshua Epstein encouraged fans in front of the Honda stage, where they played, to dance and sing along. The energy didn't stretch far enough to inspire the people at the AMD stage, not even during the band's cover of Steve Winwood's "Higher Love."
The Walkmen came onto the AMD stage dressed in black suits, except lead singer Hamilton Leithauser, who had a light tan suit on. The first song, an unreleased track, fit the blazing hot mood perfectly. Much like a good majority of their 2008 album You and Me, it was just the kind of thing you would want to listen to while laying an a beach in the hot sun, which is how it felt when they took the stage. Watching the band's evolution over the last 10 years has been interesting. They started out as a pretty energetic group, influenced largely by New York punk acts. Nowadays, they take more notes from Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and you could even hear Buddy Holly in the unreleased material. Leithauser announced that the band is working on a new record, which was obvious during their set. They played five or six new songs, each delving further into the Sun Records vein that started on Lisbon. As for their old stuff like "The Rat," those songs were mere afterthoughts, during which the band missed several notes. It was easily the most laid back performance I've ever seen from The Walkmen.
Broken Social Scene
It was cool to see the band that has spawned so many other artists, play one of their last sets before going on hiatus. Over the course of their set, four guitars plucked individual patterns that weaved a huge, pretty mess of a set. Their performance was a huge amalgamation of keyboards and guitars played tastefully, while hipsters caught one last glimpse of the band while they still had the chance. Horn players and backup singers cycled on and off the stage, creating a party atmosphere, which spread to the crowd.
For a lot of festival goers, it was their first time to see Elbow perform. The band hasn't made much of a splash in the States, so it was a rare opportunity. Fans sat on the lawn for over an hour leading up to their set. They started the set with "The Birds" from their new record Build a Rocket Boys! Their sound was tight and full. They brought the Manchester rain with them. Only moments in to their set, the downpour began again. Perfect timing, too. The rain offered a nice backdrop to the band's moody, cinematic songs, which was interrupted momentarily when ACL crew members had to take down part of the Google Plus stage due to wind concern. Singer Guy Garvey went with it, and led the crowd in an improvised call and response time leading into the set's most powerful song, "Grounds For Divorce." Garvey is a master of crowd control. The audience clapped, sang, wiggled their fingers, and rubbed the shoulders of the person in front of them, all on his command. Their set was the most proficient of the day.