Austin City Limits

The summer music festival circuit is an idea that didn’t really take off in this country until recently. Sure, local festivals (often blues or folk/bluegrass) abound, but the kind of monumental rock experience imagined by late 60s events like the Monterey International Pop Festival and Woodstock is only now coming into focus–with the exception perhaps of Lollapalooza. (Curiously, the Europeans have been throwing music fests for decades, from Reading to Barcelona’s Primavera.)

Somehow this summer found me at two of the latest generation of American festivals, Outside Lands in San Francisco and Austin City Limits, where I’m currently writing. It was the first year for Outside Lands, something that clearly showed in the logistics, especially public transportation and the ID line to buy beer or wine. Austin City Limits is a smooth running music engine by contrast. Of course the entire city of Austin is geared up to support live music in ways that San Francisco is not, so I suspect that has something to do with it.

Anyway, some awesome sets of music today: An energetic and thrilling performance from Jamie Lidel; Hot Chip tore it up and basically created an enormous sweaty dance party; and former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne delivered a blistering set of pop. The only duds were M. Ward, who needed to play in a club or something, and Vampire Weekend, a group who’s blantant ripoff of late 80s era Paul Simon was just boring.

Overall a thrilling day. Today we’re leaving Austin on a mini road trip of sorts to seek out some of the best BBQ in central Texas. Stay tuned for tales of brisket and pit masters.

Below: The 24 ounce can of Lone Star, aka the national beer of Texas, was the beer of choice at ACL.

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