Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Austin City Limits 2010

The Wait.

After nearly 6 months of anticipation, painfully watching the calendar, sorting through the line-up, and then the schedule, and then the map, feeling similar to a kid on Christmas Eve, it was finally here: Austin City Limits Music Festival 2010. Now to say I was excited about this would be accurate. To say I was giddy as a school girl would be closer to the actual truth. This would not just be my first ACL, but my first multi-day outdoor music festival ever. So I was definitely curious to see just how well I'd do. Most people who know me know that I do tend to go to a lot of shows, so the idea of doing it for 10 hours a day, 3 days in a row definitely seemed right down my alley. With that as my only justification for spending 185 dollars 6 months before the festival (and 3 months before the line-up), I pulled the trigger. Now it was finally here.

The Eve.

Part of my excitement and anticipation also came from the fact that the Friday of the festival would be my first day off from work since I started there March 8th. Having already seen Phantogram at Mohawk earlier during the week, I was more than pumped and prepared to get the festival underway. So me and some friends decided to go check out an official ACL pre-show Thursday night at La Zona Rosa. Neon Indian was playing with Prefuse 73, and tickets were easy to get thanks to 5 or 6 other big name acts doing pre-shows that night (who am I kidding, I got my ticket like a month in advance... but mainly because the Black Keys sold out in 10 minutes). Prefuse 73 was a surprisingly good show with a lot of percussion and a decent light show, and Neon Indian was even more impressive. A shot or two of Jameson and a few beers during the show led to an appropriately drunken night of a lot more shots of Jameson on dirty 6th. A late, but very successful ACL Eve.

The Beginning

Naturally being that excited, I was up by 8:30 even with the late bedtime. Nursing only a slight hang over, and knowing we had a long day ahead of us, we loaded up on some Magnolia's brunch. A few shots back at the apartment and off we were in cabs headed to Zilker. It took everything in me not to break out in a sprint to the gates when we got out of the taxi (I probably would have if I knew where the hell I was going). A few long lines at the bag check (which was surprisingly and thankfully pretty lenient), and to get my wristband and we were finally in. The weather was a perfect 86 degrees sunny and breezy, and we walked around a bit till we found a nice spot at the AMD stage for Blues Traveler. Seeing John Popper do a killer Radiohead cover of "Creep" was definitely the highlight of that set. We stayed near to make sure we had good seats for the next band but did get to catch some Miike Snow playing next door at the Honda stage. Next up came one of the bands I was most excited to see on the line-up, The Black Keys. They of course killed it, and I managed to down about 50 dollars worth of beer between 2 and 5 in the refreshingly warm sun. This was the absolute perfect state of mind to be in to walk back next door to see Beach House. I daydreamed and danced to Victoria and considered the day a success... except that it was only 6 when she silenced her angelic voice. I vaguely remember moving through a sea of people with traces of Spoon, Slightly Stupid, and Sonic Youth playing in the background. We then managed to catch an outside spot for Vampire Weekend, which for the time brought back a tiny spark of energy. It was now 8, and I was done (very literally). This just happened to be when I saw a utopia that was the food court, and the long trail of trailers full of treasures at the end of my double rainbow. With so many decisions in front of me and the ability to eat a small horse and/or child, I panicked and pulled a rookie mistake. I managed to spend $20 in under 10 minutes on a personal pizza, Torchy's taco, and some good ole fashioned cheese fries. I was officially the happiest person in Zilker park, and had a permanent smile on my eyes half-opened sunburned face. I fell asleep on my backpack peacefully as I watched from a distance the light show provided by Phish. I don't know many people who would fall asleep during Phish, but after a day like that I found it totally justifiable. A quite sleepy walk and car-ride back to a couch, and I was passed out by 11:30. This turned out to be a good thing for the long weekend I still had in store.

The Rally.

Rested. Refreshed. Energized. I knew day 2 was going to be good the second I woke up on the couch and my friend was playing LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yrself Clean." Thanks to a handy little chatroom-like text inbox that ACL provided access to, we all managed to keep in contact throughout the festival, and organized a quick recovery/pre-game meal at Kerbey Lane. A walk down to the liquor store to get supplies to bring with us as we were going to be and were much more prepared, and we were ready to rage. Our bank accounts and stomachs were done with expensive festival beer. Another cab ride down to Zilker and we managed to get down to the Budweiser stage to catch Gaslight Anthem. We saw some of the Black Lips set over at Zync and then headed down to see one of my personal favorites, Broken Bells. A good performance with an interesting Black Keys cover of "Everlasting Light" as we walked back across the park to catch The XX. I managed to get separated from the group during that trip thanks to an abundance of whiskey in my bladder that could not be put on hold, especially with the valuable and rare porta potties so near in sight. So I ended up being pretty far back from the what looked like an already kind of dull XX performance, so I strolled on down a little further to claim a good spot for LCD Soundsystem. I wasn't alone for long thanks to my red and white umbrella landmark, and me and the ladies danced to a very awesome show. I jetted from there over to meet up with another friend and caught the show that in my mind will be the most talked about of the weekend, Deadmau5. His light show dominated the black sky, and the whiskey had me feeling warm as could be on a beautiful cool Austin night. I ended up in towards the back for that night's headliner Muse, but that was okay because their light show was equally as entertaining as Deadmau5, and having the Austin skyline as the backdrop was a perfect touch. I left early from this to meet up with the gang and head over to Antone's for an official aftershow I managed to win free tickets to. After impatiently maneuvering through some hellatious traffic, we saw Girls play a great show and it was fun to go from half a mile away in the back of Muse to front row at Girls less than 2 hours later. That was definitely the apex of the evening, because after that things went downhill fast. Feeling great after a 5 hour energy shot, and not wanting to leave downtown yet, I walked down to dirty 6th to see if I could find some of my friends down there. This was extremely difficult to do thanks to the large crowd of people, and the lack of a cell phone which had died earlier in the day. The only successful thing I managed to do in this time frame was scarf down some Ropollos pizza. Also hard to do in Austin on a Saturday night during ACL weekend... hailing a cab. Trust me, the walk from Beauty Bar on 7th near the interstate to Kerbey Lane on Guadalupe is not fun to do alone at 2 in the morning. I did manage to run into some old friends in front of the Omni, and watched a girl get softly bumped by a moving car in the street. So at least I managed some quality entertainment. But all is well that ends well, and I ended up with a shower and then in a comfy bed, so the walk did not end in vain.

The Finale.

Still in my clothes from the night before, I managed a ride back to my friends apartment down near Zilker. I put the clothes I wore Saturday back on (as my other bags were at my friends duplex down south that I never made it back to the night before) and began the walk down to the festival. It was 11am on the last day of my first ACL, and I intended to make it count. I stopped by the gas station for some essentials (5 hour energy, Gatorade, toilet paper) and by a little market on Barton Springs for the best breakfast taco I've ever had and some hippie all natural deodorant, and marched into my last day alone. I caught a little bit of Ruby Jane's performance, who I had seen shred the stage with Blues Traveler on a fiddle on Friday all at the age of 15. She was very impressive. I then found the lifesaver that was the phone charging tent. I left my Blackberry to regain some life and went to catch a show I had been looking forward to all weekend, Warpaint. I had heard so many good things about them, they were the reason I was already seeing my second show of the day and it wasn't even noon yet. They lived up to the hype, and I was on cloud 9 for the day. I finally met up with my friends again, and we leisurely caught some of White Rabbits and then the Foals. They stopped off at Blind Pilot but I kept moving to assure a good spot for another show I had immediately circled when the line-up came out. Portugal, the Man exceeded my expectations and put on one of the best performances musically of the festival (I'm also fairly sure I saw Kate Hudson standing in the VIP balcony). After this I tried the appropriately named Love Burger and went to claim my spot for Yeasayer, another show that I knew I had to see. Their performance was good, but a tough one to get through. Standing with the sun beating down on us, sleep deprived, dehydrated, hung over, and exhausted from the mini marathon I had done the night before all definitely took a toll on me. But I managed not to pass out, and I popped a squat after the show to sit and wait on the reason why I never once contemplated selling my 3-day pass no matter how desperate I may have been for money at any point since I had purchased it. I had a prime spot for The Flaming Lips, and I intended to keep it. Best decision I ever made. Wayne put on the performance of the festival, and I was close enough to snap some amazing pictures. A compilation of exhaustion from the weekend, the culmination of some of the best shows I had ever seen, and the fact that it was the Flaming Lips closing my ACL experience with "Do You Realize..." I definitely teared up during the finale (I had something in both my eyes, okay). My back could officially take no more after that, and I old man hobbled out of the festival early to miss the Eagles (sorry dad) and catch some bands from my hometown (Mass Rituals and Knifight) play a show downtown at Emo's. It was a fitting way to end such a memorable weekend, watching and supporting local music, the way its done in Austin.

It was without a doubt one of the best weekends of my life, and I wrote this to help me remember and look back on in a few years when future festivals I attend will most likely have led me to some slight memory loss. To everyone reading this who was a part of this amazing weekend, I say thanks. Its memories like these that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and my first ACL will forever be something I will look back upon with a smile on my face.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Is This Real Life?

Haven't written anything in way too long, so I thought I'd recap some of the things I've been up to lately, as well as what I have in store for me over the next month.

Fall brings a sense of change. The leaves, and temperature, start to drop. The colors outside slide from a growing green to a slowing orange that almost gives the illusion that time is slowing down for a moment, maybe so we can stop and enjoy one of the few times of the year when living isn't Texas isn't unbearably hot (or humid). This year fall has seemed to mean "concert season" here in south Texas.

I started off my concert season at a neutral site in Rockdale, Texas... Yeah, I wasn't real sure where that was either, for the appropriately named "Nocturnal Festival." Headliners for me were Lotus, Pretty Lights, and KID CUDI (yes, I am also on the Pursuit of Happiness). Although the details from this night may forever be a bit hazy to me, I can say with full confidence that it was one of the most fun nights I have ever had. We had a great group of people with us, and every detail throughout the night seemed to happen perfectly and without a hitch. I almost feel guilty for how great this night was, and to all who missed it I apologize sincerely. The apex of the night for me came after Kid Cudi's set was finished and fireworks were going off overhead. I laid back on the grass, looked up, and couldn't help but smile, and be thankful to what a great past 9 months it has been since I moved to the ATX, and feel that strong sense of excitement at the upcoming weeks ahead.


Next came an away game in Dallas at Superpages.com center with a familiar team, Dave Matthews. The typical tail-gating ensued while trying to avoid the pastel-colored polo wearing fraternity brothers as best we could. Granted, once inside the venue, everyone is too wasted to care and it is a lot of fun to see 20,000 white people (none of which can dance) all move their bodies like they were having seizures, hopefully none were. All in all, a very successful road trip.


After this, I needed a show where I wouldn't feel left out not wearing a fishing shirt, so the obvious solution was Ratatat. Over the past 9 months, I'd say Stubbs is where I have seen the most shows (see also "Ben Folds, Passion Pit, Bassnectar, etc) so I knew this was going to feel like home. The show was exactly what I expected, a giant dance party with a great light show and even better music. I was pleased, and lets just say I lived that Monday night to the fullest. Being 45 minutes late to work the following morning was completely worth it.


Next up, and most recently, came Bassnectar (round 2). This show took place in Dallas during Texas/OU Red River weekend. Naturally, me and the boys went up to Dallas Friday night, and met up with some friends at a bar. We got to enjoy an awkward "magic show" performed by some traveling group of gypsies that included throwing darts to pop balloons taped to a man's back, cutting melons using a man as a cutting board, and a girl squeezing herself through an unstrung tennis racket about 10 times, all while a masked man played the themes to Superman and Star Wars on a miniature accordion. For the big (and ultimately depressing) game, we grilled out and ate like kings, and drank accordingly. Chance and I had feverishly been anticipating round 2 of Bassnectar ever since the aforementioned show we saw at Stubbs back in May for Chance's birthday. The moment had finally come, and after some pregaming in the parking lot, we stumbled inside Palladium for what I will forever remember as one of the most intense shows I have ever been to. Bassnectar waited till 11 to come on because Sara bareilles was playing next door, and he wanted to be at maximum volume to sufficiently melt our faces off, which he in turn did. By the time we got out of there at 1:15am and got our Whataburger and crawled into bed at our La Quinta (which of course means "next to Denny's" in Spanish), we all passed out with smiles on our faces.


On a side note, the typically great weekend was capped off with a great movie. The Social Network was both informative and entertaining, and was obviously a topic I could easily relate to. It'll be fun to watch again in a few years and see how much things have changed even since now, and to remember that I was a freshman in college the year Facebook blew up.

Next on the list is Phantogram at Mohawk on 10/05, followed by Neon Indian at La Zona Rosa on 10/07, which in turn kicks off my first ever ACL experience on Friday 10/08. I cannot express nor contain my excitement to finally be attending a large music festival, especially one so notorious and with such a good line-up as Austin City Limits. I most look forward to seeing The Flaming Lips for the first time, along with the Black Keys, Beach House, The XX, Deadmau5, Yeasayer, and a long list of others that I hope to squeeze in throughout the weekend.

Sufjan Stevens will be in town on the 19th and I will most likely cry during the concert, and in no way is that depressing. I'll see Ghostland Observatory for the third time on the 28th in Cedar Park which is all of about 10 minutes from my North Austin apartment, so obviously I couldn't pass up that opportunity. 2 days later, I'll see STS9 for the first time for their "Halloween show," once again at my home venue of Stubbs. As you can see, October is chalked full of fun and potentially amazing experiences, which I intend to take full advantage of. So that is the update from the 512 and life and times of Jordan Cooper. I hope to see you at one of the shows, or out on the town afterwards. Maybe in November I'll slow down, catch up on sleep and working out, start drinking less and eating better, but for now I'm going to live life full of nights I remember more from the pictures I scan through the morning after, and I'm not going to apologize to anyone for that.