Longtime readers will know that we're longtime attenders of the Austin City Limits Festival. Well, our streak of attendance ends this year at four, but that doesn't mean we still won't be sad to miss the shows, both on the main stages (Stevie Wonder, Arcade Fire, Randy Newman, Alison Krauss) and, of course, the Austin Kiddie Limits stage. Here are the details then on the AKL stage schedule and some tips: Friday, Sept. 16 School of Rock: 11:30-11:55 Heidi Swedberg: 12:30-12:55 Mariana Iranzi: 1:30-1:55 Sara Hickman: 2:30-2:55 Special Guest: 3:15-3:30 Brady Rymer: 3:30-4:00 The School of Rock used to be known as "The Paul Green School of Rock Music," and they've played at AKL for many years. Teenagers playing songs written before they were born and, in some cases, before their parents were born. This will be the hardest music you hear from the Austin Kiddie Limits Stage all weekend. Here a band from the NYC outpost plays the Kindiefest showcase in 2009: Yes, Heidi Swedberg used to play George Costanza's doomed fiance on Seinfeld. Now that we've got that out of the way, go not for the gawking factor, but because Swedberg has a hypnotic voice and a band that has a lot of fun backing up her ukulele tunes. Here's the band from this spring in NYC: Women who know their way around a guitar solo are a popular thing these days, and Mariana Iranzi is kindie's contribution. (OK, yes, she plays the bass. Details, details.) She plays Spanish-language music that rocks. Again, from the 2009 Kindiefest:
The lineup for the 2011 edition of the Austin City Limits Festival (September 16-18, ugh, the humidity!) was announced this morning and, yeah, that top of the bill is pretty darn good. Stevie Wonder! Arcade Fire! Alison Krauss! Kanye West! My Morning Jacket! I've run out of exclamation points! (OK, now I have.) Still, scroll down a bit and you'll find the lineup for the Austin Kiddie Limits stage, not in a particularly friendly way, but the brainy among us can figure it out. As with the Kidzapalooza lineup, you can split the AKL lineup into 2 basic divisions. The first are the folks you'd most typically find here at this site... Sara Hickman Heidi Swedberg Mariana Iranzi Brady Rymer Recess Monkey That's a good lineup (heck, I've put on shows featuring three of 'em), and I think they're all a good fit for the AKL stage. Beyond that we have The Paul Green School of Rock, Q Brothers, Peter DiStefano & Tor, the Barton Hills Choir, and Quinn Sullivan, all making return appearances to the AKL stage. (Sullivan's performance may very well be the most crowded the stage gets all weekend.) So, in other words, while first-timers may find these performances worth sticking around for (and I think even I could be tempted to see the Barton Hills Choir), should we make the trip down to Austin again, I think it'll be an opportunity to broaden some of the kids' musical horizons... time to camp out in the gospel tent or catch Abigail Washburn.
Day 3s of music festivals, be it of the 2010 Austin City Limits Music Festival or something, tend to be be a little more laid back, if only because everybody's so d*** tired. Nothing against Day 1 and Day 2, of course, but being anywhere with 65,000 or more other folks for 8 hours at a time will tend to leave you a little tired. In addition, because most of the acts at the AKL stage play two sets, if you've been there Friday and Saturday, you've seen most if not all of the acts perform once already. So you might be tempted to wander around a little bit more. Unless, of course, your kids still want to play at the AKL stage. And, er, Elizabeth Mitchell is playing again. That was all perfectly fine by me. One of the advantages of Mitchell's comparatively deep catalog of music is that multiple sets don't have to be the same. She did play a couple new songs compared to her set on Saturday, and she also sang more in Spanish, certainly reflecting her excitement over her forthcoming album with Suni Paz. I also need to give special props to daughter Storey. During "School Days," you could hear another band's soundcheck coming through (presumably) the wireless mikes. It was totally odd and threw most of us in the audience for a loop. But Storey just kept on singing, seemingly unperturbed. It was interesting to me (as a parent) seeing her be so unflappable on stage and later on (and on Saturday) being like most other 9-year-olds, eagerly waiting her turn to sing at the video karaoke stage.
Waking up for Day 2 of the 2010 Austin City Limits Music Festival, I was really sore, stiff from the large amount of walking I did on Day 1. I mean, I normally walk a lot at ACL, but Friday's walking seemed... longer. Maybe it was the crowds, who knows, but that's advice number #1 for parents at ACL: stretch. Anyway, my primary goal on Day 2 at the Austin Kiddie Limits stage was to get there in time to see Elizabeth Mitchell and Frances England. We caught the very last song of the Jellydots' set, then settled in. The kids, having been fortified with Cheetos at the media area, angled for the kefir at the Lifeway Kefir booth (because for them, flavored kefir = flavored yogurt = treat). And we were eager to hear Mitchell, whom we'd never seen in concert before and who'd been a part of our family's lives since Miss Mary Mack was still crawling around on the floor. Elizabeth Mitchell's set was reasonably mellow, but not overly so. The crowd, which seemed reasonably full on Friday, was more so on Day 2 as people brought their kids on the weekend, and it brought an energy to artists' sets on the weekend. I hadn't appreciated how much Mitchell's and husband Daniel Littleton's daughter Storey is now a part of the set. She sang on most (all?) of the songs, sometime taking lead. I wouldn't call her a pro -- that's actually praise from my perspective -- but she was poised. Ella Childs joined them for the Japanese song "The Chestnut Tree," and as I looked around, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many parents were joining along with their kids on the hand motions Mitchell, Storey, and Ella led them in or how many were attempting the Spanish-language version of "John the Rabbit" Mitchell tried out. We had to miss Tom Freund's set on Friday, so after grabbing some lunch at the food court, we dashed back to see him play. He was a nice fit between Mitchell and England -- his fun Hug Trees album is a low-key disk for the most part. He was joined here in Austin by Abra Moore, who appeared with Freund on his album as well. Moore had by far the most distinctive performance outfit of the AKL stage (sorry Verve Pipe guys all wearing ties) -- leis, big glasses, and a whole bunch of purple balloons, which she sported while bouncing on a big ol' pink exercise ball. By comparison, Freund (also sporting a collared shirt and tie) looked positively restrained. There was nothing revelatory about the set, but like I said, Hug Trees is fun, and so I enjoyed getting to hear the roots-pop songs live. Next up Frances England. England (as well as Mitchell and her family) hung out a lot at the AKL stage for the weekend, seeing the other performers. In fact, generally, it was a much greater social gathering than I recall previous AKL stages being. For whatever reason, it just seemed like the performers hung out a lot more front stage (as opposed to backstage) listening to the other acts -- the Okee Dokee Brothers wanted to see Elizabeth Mitchell, for example, while Mitchell wanted to catch England's set. It was a very family vibe. England's set was a little less of a surprise for me because I'd seen her in Brooklyn and so I knew she and her band would deliver a solid indie-folk set. England's husband, bassist John Funke, got down from the stage to lead the kids in some movement activities on one of the quieter songs, and by this point there were a fair number of kids to be led. The special guest for Saturday was Peter DiStefano playing with AKL producer Tor Hyams. DiStefano was the guitarist with Perry Farrell in Porno for Pyros, and so, as he'd done in guest sets at Kidzapalooza, DiStefano and Tor played PFP's big hit "Pets" as well as "Sympathy for the Devil." While the renditions definitely rocked from an adult perspective, it's not entirely clear what kids get out of those songs -- between "Sympathy" and the School of Rock kids, sometimes it feels like the AKL stage is both the youngest and oldest stage at ACL. But they did do the undeniably cool thing of having a bunch of kids get up on stage to strum DiStefano's guitar and then hang out on stage while they were playing. It was fun to see a bit of the controlled chaos of the crowd/AKL area make it up there. The final act of the day was Sugar Free Allstars. Again, I'd seen them in Brooklyn, but of course my kids hadn't, so it was a chance for my kids (or at least Little Boy Blue) to get up and dance. Perhaps more than any other AKL act, SFA worked hard at trying to get the kids in the crowd to interact -- not that the other acts ignored the kids, just that Chris Wiser and Dr. Rock have a lot of energy on stage that they're trying to transfer to the audience. We went offsite for dinner, and the kids went back home, but I was determined to come back and see LCD Soundsystem who I also saw here back in 2007 (and who also had one of my favorite all-time quotations). I saw about 75% of James Murphy et al's set back then and the last 25% in 2010. Maybe one of these days I'll see a complete set. While his new album This Is Happening doesn't hit me quite as much as its predecessor Sound of Silver, it's still pretty darn good. And I can't stress how great they are live. After that I sampled from various acts -- Ozomatli had a party going on under the Clear 4G tent, while Matt and Kim were incredibly hyper (which I gather is normal for them in their sets). Also, I've never seen a band pander as much to the crowd the duo did -- really, it's OK, just chill a bit. Still, they were on fire -- Kim is a toddler, energy-wise, on the drums. And I wrapped it up with 3 songs from Muse (my neighbor would have been very disappointed in me if I hadn't seen just a little bit of their act). I totally get why their live show is sometimes called the best rock show in the world right now. It had lasers, a video show, bombasticity -- like U2, except if that band had a dystopian rather than utopian bent. But after another full day of music, it was time to head back home to recover and see my kids. So I made my way back through the Muse crowds, waited for what seemed way too long at 8:45 to catch the shuttle bus back to Republic Square, and headed home.
Much of the anticipation regarding the 2010 Austin City Limits Music Festival revolved around the weather. After years of dust storms, high heat and humidity, and last year's mudbath, the forecast was for clear weather in the mid-80s. Gradually moving the festival back into the month of October paid off as the forecast was dead-on. I personally would've been glad to see it 10 degrees cooler and with a few clouds (I loved 2009's Friday), but it was pretty nice... So here we were, set to make a fourth visit to the ACL Festival, and the Austin Kiddie Limits stage in particular. The first clue that things would be a little more crowded this year was that by the time we got to "our" parking lot northwest of Republic Square in downtown, it was already full by 11 AM. But after finding a spot a couple blocks away, catching the bus to Zilker Park, checking in (including fortifying myself, Miss Mary Mack, and Little Boy Blue with snacks of various sorts), we finally made our way to the secluded nook of the AKL area. One of the problems, of course, with ACL is that you're bound to walk past something that piques your interest while being unable to stop. I would've gladly hung around the Honda stage right next to AKL to catch more of GIVERS' set, but my kids, so close to the AKL area, just wanted to go in. I needed to save parental vetoes, so in we went. First up? The Jellydots. This particular iteration of Doug Snyder's band was more muscular-sounding than the last time I caught them here 3 years ago. (Or maybe all those acoustic Snyder solo sets are clouding my memory.) Anyway, it was a nice selection of tunes as Doug bounced from lead singer to guitarist/singer to (even) backup singer/drummer.
Plane tickets - check. Rental car - check. Lodging - check. (Thanks, Mom!) Press passes - check. That's right, the Austin Kiddie Limits stage schedule is set for the 2010 edition of the Austin City Limits Festival and Zooglobble will be there for the fun. I've got a long history of attending the festival and I'm excited to catch the AKL bands with the family, spend some time in the sandbox, and maybe (OK, definitely) catch Spoon. If you're gonna be there, let me know. And if you're not, fear not, I might get a post or five out of it...