On Friday, October 8th, Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, was covered over in a teeming mass of humanity. The hipsters, rockers, posers, parents, children, and teens that made up the throng were all there for one reason: Austin City Limits.
Austin City Limits is the yearly music festival that has given Austin the title of musical capital of the world. Since its inception, the festival has grown into a monster, with three days of music and 130 bands on eight stages.
This year’s festival will prove to be quite exceptional, with big names such as The Strokes, The Black Keys, M.I.A, LCD Soundsystem, and Muse in its line-up. Up-and-coming bands like Vonnegutt, the Ettes, The Temper Trap, Matt and Kim, and Local Natives are also bringing their talents to the festival throughout the weekend.
The Black Keys were the first big name to take the stage Friday. They played a soulful set to a gathering of thousands as the sun shined brightly over the park. As Dan Auerbach sang effortlessly through a mix of songs from their new album, Brothers, hands clapped, and bodies swayed and bounced in the audience.
A great kick-off to the afternoon led to even better sounds and vibrations as The Ettes took the stage across the park. They rocked out with a style similar to that of The Black Keys–the group recently worked with Auerbach in the studio–but it was their own original brand of energy and garage-punk style that made them a memorable act in the Friday line-up.
Soon after, Austin natives Spoon took the main stage, where lead singer Britt Daniel hypnotized the crowd with his intense vocal delivery and sly smile. Spoon’s set was beautiful and also a great end to their short tour in the United States. Towards the end of the set, Daniel confirmed that Austin City Limits would be their last appearance in the U.S. for the time being.
Sonic Youth provided an energetic interval in between Spoon and the night’s two headliners, The Strokes and Phish. With their instruments turned up high, they literally blasted the crowd away with post-punk insanity. Their sound was certainly big and sonic, and let all those watching know why the band picked its name.
The Strokes and Phish then wrapped up the night at opposite sides of the park. The Strokes, one of the great rock bands of the past decade, started the set off with the first song from their very first album (Is This It), taking the crowd back to 2001 when they first hit the scene. The light show that accompanied their set was just as inspiring; at times, giant spotlights shined behind the band members’ heads, revealing their true identity as angels of rock.
Friday was only a precursor of great things; M.I.A, Muse, The Temper Trap, Local Natives, and The xx will all be taking the stage throughout the day Saturday. Look out for coverage of Saturday’s sights and sounds soon.