May 22 2012

ACL 2012 Lineup Is Exactly What You’d Expect

As far as the Big Four fests go, Coachella is the crazy raving cousin, Lolla is your favorite big city hipster friend, Bonnaroo is that jamming stoner uncle who lives in the woods, and ACL? Well, it continues to be your baby boomin’ dad, grasping for relevancy but always missing the mark. After a stellar lineup in Indio, which expanded to two weekends this year, and acceptable rosters from ‘roo and C3’s Chicago party, we hoped the hometown fest would resemble what has come before, especially considering C3 is in charge of it as well. We do this every year, knowing in the back of our minds it won’t be so, but still we hope. And year after year, we are predictably disappointed.

Let’s be clear: this lineup does NOT SUCK. In truth, ACL never is a clear-cut bomb. But is any diverse major festival? There are some gems in here; the headliners are all good, for a change. There’s some great bands playing throughout all three days. Are they worth the Texas heat, the packed crowds, the overpriced everything, the $200 price tag? This lineup is not the worst. But overall, it’s not good either. It’s bland. Middle of the road. Phoned in. Leftover. Uninspired. Underwhelming. In a word: meh.

I suppose the biggest problem I have with ACL is its desperate need to satisfy everyone more than any other festival. This is a geographical, demographic factor; Lolla is in the heart of the third biggest city in the country. People travel to spacious areas in the California desert and Tennessee country to see their favorites. ACL is in Austin, a diverse, cultured, unique Democratic town in the heart of big red Texas. So we get more bluegrass, more classic rock, more local mediocrity, more twee, and more Triple A indie. And then you see a random dance or hip-hop act just to maintain this obligatory sense of credibility (this year it’s A-Trak and Childish Gambino….I saw both last November in a smaller park down the road. Fun Fun Fun wins again). I don’t know how many times last year I heard complaints the lineup had too much rap. Too much? It didn’t have enough. Never does. Just once I’d like to see ACL take more risks and maybe let Asleep At the Wheel sit a year out so a progressive sound could blow some gray hair back.

I get it, though, why try? ACL is programmed with an “if it ain’t broke” mentality, and it continues to sell tickets. No business like show business. Then again, when over half of said tickets are sold out before the lineup is even announced, you know people aren’t coming for the music anyway. And the people that actually care, that bought their tickets today? That will endure sunscreen and empty wallets and hoards of idiocy of all ages? More power to you. That’s dedication. Stay hydrated, and maybe I’ll see you at the afterparties.

Click here for the full lineup, currently organized by date.

Sep 15 2011

My Obligatory Yearly ACL Fest Rant

And so begins the weekend when a crapload of people litter the streets, destroy our prettiest park, clog up our traffic even worse, and make downtown unbearable. A weekend of sunscreen and insufferable tourists. A weekend of avoiding arguably the coolest parts of town. A weekend of middle of the road music and thousands of spectators not listening to it.

You know, ACL weekend. Thank God it’s only a weekend.

As you may have surmised, I’m not going, as usual. If C3 would make a lineup worth seeing (thank you FunFunFun…again), I would pony up the $180. Of course, by the time they even announce, scalpers have already grabbed all the tickets and are selling them on Craigslist for $200+. Too rich for my blood for an experience as unbearable as ACL. The crowds, the lines, the heat, the general d-baggery. No thank you, I go to festivals to see bands play, not to deal with screaming children, rolling college girls, and unattended lawn chairs to trip on. I’ve bitched about all this before, of course, but something about all the undeserved hype that surrounds this weekend every year just sends me on a bit of a tangent.

Why is SXSW any better, you may ask? SXSW is a completely different animal – a downtown-wide festival with many venues, many options, and so much diversity there’s something for everyone. ACL is 80,000 people cramped in a park too small for such an event, and, frankly, the lineup is typical fest fodder. Think of it as Lollapalooza with less left-field indie and more homespun “safe” bands.

That’s not to say there isn’t some stellar shit happening, just not enough to warrant a scorching-weather weekend of my life and $200 of my precious cash. There’s enough great shows coming to town I’d rather attend – ACL afterparties included – that are more intimate and a better concert-going experience. And cheaper. And indoors/in the evening when it’s cooler. With less people and shorter lines.

But, hey, enough of me on my soapbox. You kids have fun! Let me know how Foster the People is! (don’t) Let me know if Coldplay rocks the house and burns the stage down!  (they won’t)  Let me know how many old people (probably sleeping) you trip over and then apologetically crawl off of! (tons) And maybe I’ll see you in November or March.

May 3 2011

Quick Rants and Raves 5/3/11

Anyone that knows me knows I am a man of impeccable taste and opinion. Also: humble. So when many things all at once are on my mind, and the 140-character beauty of Twitter just isn’t doing it for me, I will take to the blog to sing my praises and wag my finger.

Rant: Austin City Limits Music Festival

I have ranted about this fest before. Major fests just aren’t my bag for a number of reasons. However, correct me if I’m wrong, but does any other major fest sell out three-day passes (or for that matter, even have them on sale) before the official lineup is announced? Probably more than any other fest, ACL seems to have a loyal gathering of people who decide they’re going every year, even before they find out the horrible, dreadful, increasingly worse list of bands playing. Or maybe C3 just doesn’t have a clue what they’re doing in regards to scalpers. I mean, if I really wanted to go to ACL, I could find tickets in Austin pretty easily via Craigslist/word of mouth. But it’s a matter of principle, and convenience, to buy them directly from the festival itself.

Rant: Who Gets Credit for Killing Osama Bin Laden?

It didn’t even take 12 hours for the Beltway and nonstop news cycle to ask the question: who gets credit for the execution of Bin Laden? And now, two days after Obama’s prime time announcement Sunday, they won’t shut up about it. MSNBC’s drinking the Obama Kool-Aid, and Fox News makes sure to mention every five minutes they think the Bush administration deserves a lot of kudos for this (they actually do deserve credit for the initial launch of the intelligence mission, though it was Obama who made it his #1 national security priority, and, of course, he was the President to sign off on the raid and watch it via a live video feed). And then there’s CNN, who are amping up the “retaliation” speculation, as they are wont to do in order to boost their god-awful ratings. How about we just wave our flags and chant a little more? This is a win not for Obama, or Bush, but for our entire country. You know who deserves the MOST credit for killing Osama? The heroes that did it.

Rave: Z-Trip Beastie Boys Mega-Mix

A career spanning mix of new and old Beastie tracks, from one of the best mashup artists out there. Check it.

Oct 6 2010

Five Reasons Not To Attend ACL

1. The Crowds

As with any major festival, there are thousands of people clamoring around each other in a heated, sun-screened swarm of deck chairs, umbrellas, flags, and people who actually want to see bands and elbow their way to the front.  Bottom line: there’s way too many fucking people to have any sort of intimacy with the performer you’re watching.  Chances are, you’re probably just watching them because you are NOT missing whoever’s next from far away.  A word of advice for ACL virgins: stick with someone ALWAYS because you may never see them again if you lose them.  Find a meeting place, a landmark, and forget about your cell phone working.  It will not. Especially if you’re on AT&T.

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