A Photo Spread from the Fifth Annual Music Festival
Words and images by L. Paul Mann
closed out this years’ Austin
City Limits music festival with a bang, literally. Halfway into
his twilight set, dark clouds enveloped Zilker Park
on the outskirts of downtown Austin. The city skylight disappeared
in the darkness and lightning began illuminating the skyline. Then
a deluge of rain sent most of the 65,000 festival-goers scrambling
for the exits. But not before witnessing one of the largest and
most diverse pop music festivals in the world.
In fact, Austin has long been know for their love of live music.
Their motto, “Austin: The Live Music Capital of the World,” is
etched in a stage at the airport where bands greet arriving and
departing passengers. And downtown Austin has one of the most
active live band nightclub scenes in the world. But the Austin City
Limits (ACL) festival, held this year from September 15 to 17,
takes the fanaticism a step further, offering more than 130 bands
on eight stages over three long days.
The bands are carefully picked each year to represent the
hottest and most relevant new and established acts. Bands that
played last year, like England’s Keane, are this
years hottest new sensations. This year’s new bands included the
ferocious fusion band TV on the Radio (who play SOhO tonight,
September 27), already on the verge of becoming big stars.
The festival, which features bands from all over the world,
really has only one unofficial and non-binding connection: Guitar
is king here, meaning that most at ACL display an awesome amount of
searing guitar work. Even usually placid bands like G Love and Special
Sauce may employ an extra guitar god to amp up their sound.
The location of the festival just on the outskirts of the city
completes the magic of the event. Zilker Park is an area with green
rolling hills that boasts a spectacular view of the Austin skyline.
Barton Springs (pictured), the large natural
aquifer in the middle of the park, has been a favorite swimming
hole for Austin residents for over two centuries. And if that isn’t
enough for die-hard music lovers, many of the bands play aftershows
in the clubs downtown until early in the morning.
Way to go Austin—they really do keep it weird. Don’t believe it?
Check out these photos.
What were these guys on?
Jack White gets down.
Gnarls Barkley gets gnarly.
John Mayer sings a lot.
Ian McLagan drops his faces.
Los Amigos Invisible get friendly.
Who said the Raconteurs don’t rac-on!?!
Everybody’s favorite mixed media band: TV on the Radio.
A view of the crowd.
Muse muses on.
The Flaming Lips get all bubbly.
Austin bids goodbye during the rainstorm brought on by Tom