Believe it or not I spent some time at the rest of the 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival. I have so many conflicting obligations when I visit the Festival, that I never feel like I see enough of the non-Austin Kiddie Limits music. The first part of the day was cool enough, but it was time for the adult in me to enjoy a little music without the kids. So after helping my wife, Miss Mary Mack, and Little Boy Blue get back to downtown Austin (they're not quite the festival hounds I am), I finally made it back to Zilker Park and made my to the Wildflower Center stage to see K'naan.
Every year there's one performance I didn't quite anticipate that ends up blowing me away. K'naan's set, or at least the last 30 minutes that I caught, was that experience for this year. How good was this Canadian hip-hop artist originally born in Somalia? I bought his album Troubadour at the Waterloo tent pretty much right after his set ended. His set-closing performance of "Wavin' Flag," of which he did an abbreviated version that I half-caught at the Austin Kiddie Limits stage, might very well be the single best musical experience I've had in 3 years of attending ACL. This YouTube clip can't do it complete justice, of course, but the way he works the crowd together freestyling for about 6 minutes before launching into the music is masterful. "When I get older / I will be stronger / They'll call me freedom / Just like a wavin' flag / And then it goes back / And then it goes back / And then it goes back." I'm still singing this nearly a week later.
K'naan - "Wavin' Flag" (Live @ Austin City Limits Festival 2009)
K'naan - "Bang Bang" (Live @ Austin City Limits Festival 2009)
On my way to the Waterloo tent after his set, I stopped by the BMI stage to hear the Greencards (nice bluegrass with a hint of gypsy and non-North American influences). After picking up the CDs, I made my way over the Xbox 360 stage to hear Them Crooked Vultures, a supergroup featuring Dave Grohl on drums, Josh Homme on guitar, and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. I'm not sure I'd buy their album and listen on a regular basis, but in a live setting on a beautiful evening, they absolutely rocked. Even a kajillion miles away I could see Grohl drumming away, grinning like Animal. Makes me happy everytime I seem him drum.
Them Crooked Vultures - "Mind Eraser" (Live @ Austin City Limits Festival 2009)
And, conveniently, I just needed to turn around and see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs open up on the AMD stage. But by that point it was getting late and I knew I had another 45 minutes (or more) of traveling before seeing my family again. So I stayed for 3 songs of Karen O and her boys, then took off in the perfect Austin night.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Runaway" (Live @ Austin City Limits Festival 2009)