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Top Five Acts at ACL Festival, 10/4/2013

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Photo by Julian Bajsel
Editor: Our friends at Houston Press' Rocks Off music blog are tackling the first weekend of Austin City Limits, and they're bringing us these dispatches.

ARCTIC MONKEYS I spent a good part of the mid-'00s torturing every passenger in my car with the Arctic Monkeys' album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not on repeat. I still enjoy busting out that album (and my faux accent) to screech along with them. So needless to say, I was stoked to catch their ACL set on Friday.

The sun was setting behind the massive stage and the weather was cooling down, which made for the perfect backdrop to dance around as Alex Turner belted out those rapid-fire lyrics, thick with his trademark Sheffield accent. The amount of energy it must take for them to put on a show packed with songs of such energy and noise must be insane. Although they don't jump and scream in the traditional rocker way, Turner's vocals alone are a test in agility. I'm not sure when he has time to breathe.

But even with Turner's vocal lashings, the Monkeys are so normal in appearance and mannerisms that it's a little mesmerizing. Despite their success, they still appear to be the Sheffield boys rockin' out they way they did in their high-school band, with no egos or meltdowns to distract from what they're there to do. There are no gimmicks or onstage antics; just the abilities of a band much longer in the tooth. ANGELICA LEICHT

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Photo by Julian Bajsel
DEPECHE MODE Growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, I spent a lot of time during high school at a little bar in Reynosa, Mexico, where I could drink for cheap and dance around to '80s New Wave to my little underage heart's content. Thanks to that bar, The Alaskan, and its watery, gut-rot tequila shots, Depeche is the ultimate for me. That band just reminds me of such silly, carefree times.

I know that reviews on their recent shows have been mixed, with some confused reviewers questioning some of the band's choices on this latest tour. Well, they can keep right on doing it, because Depeche genuinely blew me away as they closed out Friday night's lineup. Those old Alaskan memories have some new competition.

The entire hill in front of and behind me became one huge New Wave dance party, with dads dancing with their young daughters, couples throwing their arms up, and dorks like me reliving those days of old, when we first discovered that strangely gorgeous, androgynous sound. ANGELICA LEICHT

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Photo by Marco Torres
FUN. fun. lead singer Nate Ruess was either happy to see us, or he took a few hits of laughing gas before he hit the AMD stage on Friday afternoon. Either way, he was all smiles and goofy expressions as he moved back and forth with his gold microphone glistening in the beautiful fall Texas light, jumping and bouncing around like The Joker from Batman.

One thing was for sure: fun.'s fans fed off his energy. "I'm standing in Brooklyn just waiting for something to happen" he sang as "One Foot" began the set. The rest of the band sounded crisp and brilliant, with horns and keys and strings fluctuating between rock and pop like a schizophrenic juke box. Even the biggest grinch would have grinned at this performance, and fans in the front row blew bubbles and smiled. Of course everyone sang along to hits "Carry On," "Some Nights", and "We Are Young," which were about as enjoyable as the band's name implies. MARCO TORRES

List continues on the next page.

 

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Photo by Julian Bajsel
JIMMY EAT WORLD It took maybe two seconds for the dank to waft through the crowd once Jimmy Eat World hit ACL's Samsung stage at ACL. The timing of the stoner goods with the music was impeccable, as was the first note of their set and every note after that.

Admittedly, I am a fair-weather Jimmy Eat World fan; I know their music, but not super-well. That might change now that I've seen them live - they know how to put on one hell of a show. I had wandered over to their set to try and sneak a video for my sister, who was having to play grown-up and couldn't make the mid-afternoon set, but wound up being so caught up in their prowess that I completely spaced on taking the video.

What was really great about the set is how the band spent as much time catering to casual fans as to those who follow the group's every move. They alternated from old hits like "Crimson and Clover" to newer, less mainstream stuff without compromising the quality of the show. Strong vocals and great music, and a bunch of dudes who looked genuinely stoked to be onstage. What more could you ask for? ANGELICA LEICHT

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Photo by Marco Torres
PACHA MASSIVE "Just played with Pacha Massive at ACL! Vibes everywhere!" That was the caption used by Corpus Christi-based DJ and producer Dusty Oliveira (a.k.a. DJ Dus or El Dusty) as he documented the scene inside the Zilker Tent on Friday's warm but pleasant afternoon. He was tapped to DJ behind a Latin-alternative duo from The Bronx consisting of guitarist DJ Nova and bassist/keyboardist Maya.

Pacha Massive's music is a smoothly wild mix of Cuban son, cumbia, electronica, and hip-hop, with a mood that meanders between a chill, almost haunted sound and a more direct, shake-your-hips party soundtrack. "Don't Let Go" and "Pachangueando" were two of the stand-out tracks from 2007 album All Good Things, and the crowd seemed to be captured by the Latin rhythms and compelled to dance. "There are only two kinds of music" proclaimed DJ Nova with a smile. "And we are all about that good music!" MARCO TORRES

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