ACL Fest (Austin Kiddie Limits) 2007: Day 1 Report

"I love the Austin Kiddie Limits -- that's great. It's because nobody in the audience is reading the blogs saying, 'That guy is over.' They're either crying and asking mommy to go home or they love it." -- James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem at Austin City Limits Festival 2007

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'll spare you the rest of the story about "Day 0" -- the flight to Dallas was fine, and although I was overly optimistic about getting out of the Fort Worth area ahead of the rush hour traffic, it was an uneventful drive through central Texas. Really, it was stuff that makes for poor website reading and I don't have the time.

So the next morning, Miss Mary Mack (yes, that's the name I'm giving her, thanks to loyal reader Katy for the suggestion -- she loves that song) and I got in the car and drove to downtown Austin. We got there around 10:30, boarded the shuttle bus and took the long, slow drive to Zilker Park.

ACLentry.jpgAfter securing my pass, we went in a side gate for press and others, thereby passing the crowds here, which, I didn't realize at the time, were waiting for an 11 AM entrance. We got inside, then all of a sudden I heard the theme music for "Chariots of Fire" and the gates opened up and people started streaming in. Nice touch.

After wandering around a bit (a common theme for the day), we headed on over to the Austin Kiddie Limits stage to catch the first act of the day: Sara Hickman.
SaraHwithdad.jpgI think we actually missed a couple songs, because we came in while some dad was doing his best Bob Dylan "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video impersonation, going through sing-along cards. Hickman then brought some teenagers called the Super Pal Universe (click on the link to learn more) as a backing band. They ripped through a song called "You & Me" which made me wonder if I shouldn't have brought earplugs (to the Austin Kiddie Limits stage!). She played "Red Wagon" (which she covered on Big Kid), then left the stage for Super Pal Universe to play a couple songs.

After the set, we wandered the Austin Kiddie Limits area, which definitely had its attractions. At various points in the 30-minute gaps between sets in the afternoon, we: colored a bag, bought the cheapest food at the festival, painted a tile, watched breakdancers, and played with beach balls. (In case you're wondering, you can't get into that part of the area without a kid, which made me sad as I'd've loved to get another liter of that Gatorade stuff they were selling.)

Oh, and we sweated. Goodness gracious we sweated. You spend long enough in Phoenix, and you forget just how miserable 90 degrees can be when it's paired with, oh, 167% humidity. There was a shade structure in front of the stage, which helped, but you can't shade humidity.

BummkinnBandACL.jpgNext up: the Bummkinn Band out of LA (though their lead singer Kimber Breaux was born and raised in Texas). Their set of country music went down well. They had a lot of uptempo songs that I wasn't familiar with, and it turns out the reason I wasn't familiar with many of them was because I hadn't heard most of them -- they're going to be releasing a new album this fall. I liked "Swing Set" (a broken heart song for the elementary school set) and "Crab Bit My Toe," which sound more like Southern rock than country. (It was my daughter's favorite set of the afternoon.)

JamboACL.jpgThe next act was Jambo, a bluesy folk rock band from LA. I was really only familiar with the name, not the music, so it was nice for me to actually hear someone new (which is, after all, part of the point of these festivals). They've got a new album, Lucy's Parade, coming out very soon, and I'm curious to hear how the tunes sound on disk. Live, they were fun. (That's Austin Kiddie Limits producer Tor Hyams on keys.)

DaddyAGoGoACL.jpgThe final act we saw at the stage was Daddy-A-Go-Go from Atlanta, who brought his touring band -- his two teenage boys and another kid he used coach soccer on drums. They have a loose, classic rock sound, and I liked the opportunity to hear songs from his four albums prior to his most recent one. Of course, because they're teenagers, they're also more likely to want to rock out, so they covered Kings of Leon and Chuck Berry, too.

I wish I could say we saw more than just a few minutes of Big Sam's Funky Nation (the afternoon's special guest, who turned in a great New Orleans-styled version of "Hokey Pokey") or Paul Green's School of Rock All-Stars, but I needed to get Miss Mary Mack (who held up remarkably well throughout the afternoon) to the pick-up/drop-off point, where a family friend would pick her up and get her back to my mom's house.

After taking care of that, and waiting for a while to get back in while the security personnel to give us the go-ahead to enter the grounds again after a fire temporarily disrupted the festival (meaning, they wanted to keep the roads clear for the emergency vehicles), it was my turn.

And all I can say is that if these festivals had existed when I was in college, or single, or living someplace where music happens a lot, I'd've spent a lot of time at these things.

CrowdedHouseACL.jpgCrowded House was great -- live, they bulked up the sound -- 2 minutes into "Mean To Me," I was wondering why in the world I ever got rid of their self-titled debut.

LCD Soundsystem rawked. You wouldn't think a dance punk act would rock, but they do. The drummer and guitar player played furiously, and the end to their slightly-speeded up "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House," was just intense.

SpoonACL.jpgI only caught half their set, unfortunately, because the one adult band I absolutely had to see was Spoon, and they were at the other end of the park. Off I tramped, got a decent place reasonably close, and finally saw the band live. They might be my favorite band right now. They're not much for crowd jibber-jabber (Neil Finn and James Murphy were much better), but the band sounded tight and they brought out horns... Great 16-song set.

Those three sets were great, and I'm really glad Miss Mary Mack wasn't there -- she'd have hated the crowds and the distances and the fact that the music didn't speak to her. She can watch me jam to Spoon at home.

I saw part of The Gotan Project and Bjork sets, but by that time, my mind was fried. I had the longest line I have ever been in ahead of me (for the shuttle buses), and sleep to catch.

And I would love to write more, but I need to have some lunch and get back to the park for Day 2 (and the Family Music Meltdown)... Let's be careful out there...