hungry hearted

serving up a healthy portion of pop culture commentary, random infatuations, and introspective ramblings

a weekend wonderland: ACL recap

The thing about these Austin music festivals is that there is always so much going on! Free shows, parties, ticket giveaways, after-after shows, promos galore and oh yeah, that three day festival. What I've found is that these events are really just a calculated game of selectivity. Of course there is no one way to play, but I'm pretty sure I won big this year by scoring a last minute ticket to Sunday night's after show at La Zona Rosa with M. Ward, Jenny Lewis & Conor Oberst.

I played it safe by opting for The Cool Kids performance at the Mohawk and avoiding the festival altogether. They have a really unique, dance inducing, fun sound. Their beat heavy songs give them an old school hip-hop sound, which is reinforced by rhymes about sneakers, Sega, bikes, and their keen fashion sense. Make no mistake though, The Cool Kids deliver. We knew to strategically plant ourselves front and center for the inevitable dance party. A solid set for sure. I'm excited to see/hear how these guys develop as I predict some serious stardom.


We eased into the festival just in time to park ourselves on a friend's blanket for Erykah Badu's laid back set. Her attendance at this years festival was a big draw for me. I spun Badu in heavy rotation throughout my high school and college years. Inevitably her music is highly reminiscent of those glory days. I find her style to be consistently uplifting and poetic. Her performance at ACL was no exception, a sweet breeze on a hot and lazy afternoon.

While most of my friends scurried off to catch MGMT on the other side of the park, I stuck to my gut and camped out for Conor Oberst and Beck who both performed at the AT&T stage, respectively. I heard MGMT was a good set, but super crowded. Regardless, we scored a great spot for Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band who performed a beautiful showcase, which was accented perfectly by the setting sun. Not to mention Conor was absolutely charming in his blue suit. I'm kind of in love, but who isn't? I got on the Oberst train a little late in the game and while I find his earlier emo-tales to be heart-wrenching and endearing, I have to say I'm really digging the good-time jams and energy of the Mystic Valley Band. Conor seems all grown up with a renewed confidence and charismatic stage presence. He seemed really relaxed, especially when he encouraged the crowd to sing and dance everyday (aw!).

Here's a new song - so new it's not even on the new album:

Beck was the night's headlining act and as we remained stationed on our blanket for the break between sets, we were thankful for our forward thinking as we sprawled out in our lush spot watching the crowd swarm into every possible crevice available. My love for Beck goes way back to Mellow Gold. I was lucky to catch him during his epic Odelay tour and I think it's safe to say not much has changed. He was ahead of the curve then, and he still is. He's an amazing, multifaceted musician. The night ended about fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, which was a disappointment for sure, but the show was still incredible. Beck threw down hits spanning all of his major releases, and dude played TWENTY-TWO songs, seamlessly. I was bummed about the shortened set, but I was really happy with all of his selections.

The "Hell Yes" remix was definitely a crowd favorite:

I don't know why I slacked on purchasing a ticket for the La Zona Rosa aftershow, but somehow relying on scalpers to compensate for my indecision worked out just fine. (Plus I was really proud of myself for scalping a ticket and cutting through bullshit all on my own!) Though I feared fraud as I waited in line, I had no problems. I met my friends from Houston as M. Ward
took the stage. The only song I really knew was "Chinese Translation," but it was a really sweet, mellow set with his finger-picking guitar riffs. David Rawlings and Gillian Welch accompanied him on stage for his last few songs, which became a theme for the night.

Jenny Lewis came out next. I'm a big fan of early Rilo Kiley and I was on the fence about what to expect from this performance. She really brought it home with some sultry blues songs mixed with a few soft acoustic, folk numbers and a back up band that suited her very nicely. I hadn't listened to much of her new solo release,
Acid Tongue, prior to the show, but I'm definitely getting into it now.

"Acid Tongue"

Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band delivered a dynamic show. Their sound was full and rambunctious. Like a true gentleman, Oberst was humble and courteous with the crowd, persistently thanking his adoring fans for coming out despite the exhaustive weekend. I was mesmerized as Conor danced around the stage and awestruck as they launched into a cover of Dylan's "Corrina, Corrina." The M.V.B. proves to be a quality ensemble and I'm quite sure each man hold his own. There is obviously a lot of respect and kinship on stage. It works. Their vibe and energy is contagious. I was so captivated by the performance that I found myself clapping incessantly for the encore. It was an involuntary reaction. Conor came back and closed the show slowing it down and playing a few duets with M. Ward.

"O'Brien/O'Brien's Nocturne"

The best part, or maybe what made the show so magical, was the aura it emitted. It all felt really sweet and intimate to see all these musicians join together and share one night. It's natural enough as they're all of the extended Saddle Creek family and friends, but it set the tone of a family affair, a special holiday in a far off cabin. I say cabin because of the consistent presence of Americana/folk/rock that my mind associates with rural settings and simple living. Not to mention the ever-present abundance of flannel and denim. Obviously intoxicated by the night's show, I later told a friend I wanted to meet a lumberjack with an amazing iPod mix and a library card. Hey, ya never know.

picture perfect, ACL

My ACL weekend went a little something like this:

Friday night @ The Mohawk


Chuck // The Cool Kids

Mikey // The Cool Kids

Pants Party @ Paloma & Leah's

Saturday @ ACL

Erykah Badu // photo: TK

Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band // photo: TK


Sunday night @ La Zona Rosa

Jenny Lewis & Friends

Conor Oberst (the most beautiful, slightly ugly boy in the whole world)