So, before we get into the thick of it, let's talk about the fires, shall we? Yesterday, the fest kicked off with, um, a near the AT&T stage where Pete Yorn was performing. Sources say it was a combination of the 90+ degree heat and the high grease factor of Yorn's hair. Just kidding.
Not so funny: We had heard initial reports of no injuries, but apparently four people were hurt, two severely, which sucks. The good news is the fire was controlled quickly, which is amazing and also really fortunate.
Weird enough, right? But then as we were soaking in the latter part of Bjork's crazy, amazing set, the last show of the evening, we could see, clearly, another fire. This one behind the gauzy screen with the ACL logo that hid the giant tower of speakers flanking the right side of the stage. At first, considering the Wall-reminiscent green lasers shooting from stage to sky, we thought this might be part of the show. But when the fire started spreading, sparks began falling from it and the band finished a song and didn't continue, it was like, "Holy fuck! Seriously? We just had a fire."
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Bjork confirmed it. "Our speakers caused a fire, did you see that?" she said in her elfin little voice. Yes, Bjork, we did. And we were scared.
But it didn't take away from the fact that Bjork might just be the best pop performer in the world today. Taking the stage in a golden dress with shelf-like frills, she looked like an oyster mushroom coated in precious metal. Her band consisted mainly of a Greek chorus of horn players--French horns, trombone, trumpet--wearing primary-colored robes, face paint and these things on their heads made of wire with a little matching flag on top. The visuals were simultaneously simple and dramatic, overkill and underkill at the same time. One of the best parts was trying to guess which components Matthew Barney was responsible for (my guess was the headgear; my companion thought it was the confetti and streamers that shot out of Bjork's hand during her second or third song).
Bjork blasted through several of her most popular songs, starting with "The Dull Flame of Desire" (fitting, yes), then "Hunter," "Pagan Poetry," "Hidden Place" before shifting gears abruptly into Timbaland-land, as the thud of an electronic bass set the pace for our heartbeats and the dance party began. The whole time, Bjork was blowing minds and raising arm hairs with her famous voice. It's a voice that could bend steel, the voice of someone not of this earth.
Fucking awesome. -- Jonanna Widner