Looking at the Bud Light Stage’s Sunday lineup, the following thought occurred
to my companion James Corley and I: “Why not just spend all day Sunday up
An odd sunburn, mild dehydration, a million sweaty, rank fest-goers and a crammed-so-tight-only-one-of-you-can-sit-down-at-a-time eight hours later, I stand by that thought, because I got to see The Airborne Toxic Event, Broken Social Scene, Fleet Foxes and the biggest indie band on the planet in succession.
Arcade Fire are enormous both in scale of sound and performance, and as well as popular notoriety. Just seven years ago, they were opening for The Unicorns at The Conservatory (of all places). They’ve since won a Grammy to go with the millions of fans who’ve shouted along with “Wake Up” whenever they play an outdoor ampitheater.
I was one such fan last spring, lucky enough to catch them at the Kansas City Zoo. In comparing the two performances, it’s clear to see that they really ham it up for the festival performances. Facial expressions, guitar-hoisting, leaps and bounds and all the usual pageantry seemed ratcheted up so high that even those exiting Zilker Park could see what was going on.
It wasn’t anything special to anybody who’d witnessed the spectacle that was Kanye West on the very same stage just two nights before. And that’s no offense to Canada’s most important band. It’s just that nobody’s on ‘Ye’s level at the moment. Call me when your stage show exceeds cathartic chorus blasting and enters the level of performance art.
Anyhoo, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jr. started my Sunday off right, and the Detroit duo proved themselves the very best of the weekend’s early-day crop (though I admit I, sadly, didn’t make it into the park early enough Friday for Cults’ 11:45 set— that’s my big regret from this weekend) with beautifully-textured electronica like “Morning Thought,” the rocker “It’s a Corporate World” and a wonderful, true-to-form cover of The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows.”
After that, my Bud Light stage phase initiated. I don’t know much about the Airborne Toxic Event, but they really seemed to keep the sun-soaked fans entertained by a set that included a snippet of a Bruce Springsteen song (can’t for the life of me remember which one— maybe it was “I’m on Fire”?) and a cover of the classic “I Fought the Law,” which they dedicated to the various police departments that recently detained them. Plus they had a cute girl on violin. Always a plus with OKSee.
Broken Social Scene were next, and their set opener “Cause = Time” set the standard for the guitar at this year’s ACL. Seriously, they had like four guys all playing at the same time. It was wild. I’ve not listened to BSS enough, but that set was enough to convince me to go home and invest in their discography.
As the day wore on, the sun seemed to relent and the waiting seemed to go faster, though squeezed up into the armpit of the crowd, you couldn’t swing a dead Hot Topic tween without spilling dozen cans of Red Bull or PBR.
Fleet Foxes soon took the stage for a sonically beautiful set, one that followed the typical festival protocol to keep lukewarm fans engaged with louder, faster numbers. This was great to hear from Fleet Foxes, who can be a bit too subdued sometimes. Seriously, Robin Pecknold just stands there, at the mic, neck inclined to his left at a 20 degree angle, singing. The whole time. And he’s the most active guy on stage. Though I do think he earns a pass with that gorgeous, rustic voice of his.
Well that was my weekend, guys. Hope you enjoyed my coverage as much as I enjoyed covering it. I’ll be posting interviews and more photos over the next couple of days, so stay tuned to OKSee!
Arcade Fire setlist:
“Ready to Start”
“Keep the Car Running”
“No Cars Go”
“Speaking in Tongues”
“Neighborhood #2 (Laika)”
“Month of May”
“Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”
“We Used To Wait”
“Neighborhood #3 (Power Out”