Austin Kiddie Limits (ACL Music Festival) 2010: Day 1 Report

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.

IMG_3610.jpgOne 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.
IMG_3620.jpgAfter the Jellydots' set, things slowly got more crowded as we left for a brief trip to the fabulous AKL food court (all local vendors!)

And more crowded.

And more crowded, to the point that it was more crowded than I'd ever seen the Kiddie Limits area. Lots of folks without kids, even. And, of course, I knew it was for The Verve Pipe, whose page on the ACL website suggested that nearly 2,000 fans were planning on seeing this particular set early on a Friday afternoon. Folks, there is not room for 2,000 fans in that area -- there's barely enough room for maybe 200 right around the stage -- but the people kept coming.

IMG_3621.jpgI wanted to shout, "They're not going to play 'The Freshmen'!," but I didn't. Which is really too bad, because the band really works to entertain the audience, but it was an audience that kept waiting for the "adult" hits that never came. (The closest was when they ended with the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love.") I did finally get to see "Cereal" live, which did get a rise out of the crowd.

IMG_3647.jpgAfter the Verve Pipe we wandered around a bit in the AKL area, Little Boy Blue particularly taken by the Remo drum circle that was pretty much ongoing between sets. Next up were the Okee Dokee Brothers, who served up a fine slice of bluegrass-inflected pop. Joe and Justin are energetic and their whole band looked like they were having fun up on the stage (as were the kids down below).

IMG_3650.jpgAll I really wanted to see at ACL (non-kids-division) was Spoon, my favorite band, hands down. I think they're merely just very good live, but they're getting better, better than they were three years ago), though maybe that was just because I was even more familiar with their music. They brought a horn section, an additional instrumentalist, a guest vocalist, and they destroyed a piano at the end of my favorite Spoon song, "The Underdog." Great set. (Also, one of my favorite memories: seeing some kids -- presumably of band members -- sitting down in front of the gear cases at the back of the stage. Absolutely charmed members of the crowd every time the video screens flashed a shot of them.)

After that, I was beginning to wear down and I was hoping to spend some time with, you know, my family, so I caught a couple songs of Sonic Youth (a surprisingly small crowd), one of Vampire Weekend (whose crowd at the same time as SY totally overwhelmed theirs), and then caught the bus home. The Strokes (and Phish) would have to wait for another time. Maybe the AKL stage wouldn't be quite so crowded tomorrow...