@ZackTeibloom Oh, ACL. A festival of biblical proportions. If this festival had only brought me out of Chicago and into the holy land, it would have been enough. We come here every year like an exodus. This year it gives us Phish on the Sabbath. If that was all we had to look forward to, it would have been enough.
If you only threw in the most poignant band around, the best DJ and the best hipster dance party, it would have been enough. Throw in our fake girlfriend, our favorite Jewish soul singer, the greatest spectacle of a rock show and you have the makings of a true Vampire Weekend. We each counted down our top 10 must see sets and I had to throw in half dozen more. This fest has is all. I’d slay my first born to be here. OK that’s enough hype. Dayenu.
Grace Potter – Andy wins brownie points from her for having her on his list. Dang.
Mayer Hawthorne – Jewish soul from Detroit. It works, I swear.
M.I.A. – Such a wildcard. Kala was brilliant. She hasn’t been the same since. Blame the baby?
The Black Keys – Brothers may be their best album to date and they were fire before it.
Spoon – It wouldn’t be an Austin music festival without the hometown heroes.
The Strokes – They would be a top 5 if they weren’t at the same time as Phish. What a shame. They murdered at Lolla even though Julian was trashed.
10. Vampire Weekend (Friday 7 p.m.) – Don’t forget about them because they’re not trendy anymore. They have two nearly flawless albums that translate pretty damn well to a live show. I don’t think they have a bad song and despite seeing them 4 times on their first tour, I’ve yet to see Contra live. They’ll be an interesting opening act for Phish. They have no songs longer than 3 minutes and Phish … likes to jam. The fluttering guitars, sprightly drums and punchy banter will make me almost nervously anxious to get Phishy. Will we stay until the end or leave to get close for Phish? Hopefully enough hipsters will think they’re making the good choice by going for Sonic Youth and The Strokes and it won’t even be an issue. “Cousins” was the best video of 2009.
9. The Flaming Lips (Sunday 6 p.m.) I couldn’t bring myself to leave them off the top-10 despite how many times I’ve seen them do the same show. It’s a spectacle and I’m a sucker for every bit of it. Wayne Coyne’s bubble entrance, the confetti, the costumed dancers, the spaceship light rig and wildcards like laser pointers and naked women are always a possibility. They’ll cram it all into one magical hour this festival that will make it hard to come back down to Earth for The National, but you won’t want to ever come back down to Earth after an hour with Wayne.
8. Miike Snow (Friday 3 p.m.) This weekend, the Shifty White Guy was quite excited to tell me (and everyone who would listen) that their song “A Horse Is Not A Home” is about how you can’t fall asleep in a cab. Check the lyrics. The argument holds some water. So does a Miike Snow live show. It’s the first must-see show of the festival. They have one album and they play it damn well. Just so you know, there’s no one named Miike Snow but as a collective, they’re a must see. Stick around for the wild “Animal” they’ll end with, and you’ll be properly ready to rawk hard at The Black Keys.
7. Local Natives (Saturday 4:45 p.m.) If I told you they were the break out band of 2010, would you disagree? I’d listen to a Sleigh Bells argument, but these harmonious boys have it all and the best new album of the year. I’ve seen them half a dozen times and can’t pin down the lead singer. They all carry their own songs with pitch perfect harmonies and underrated percussion. Andy thinks he wants to see Broken Bells, but we’ll already be at the right stage after Mayer Hawthorne. We ain’t goin’ nowhere.
6. Yeasayer (Sunday 4 p.m.) They will melt your face off if you’re still standing by Sunday afternoon. They wow’d Andy and I at Coachella, but never quite reached the transcendent level at Lolla. That’s OK. They’ll bring you out of the Sunday afternoon lull with pretty much everything they play off Odd Blood. Ambling Alp is my favorite song and video of 2010. I don’t even know what second place is.
5. The National (Sunday 7 p.m.) You know those bands whose songs hit you so hard you swear they have someone following you around writing down your inner most thoughts? Yep. That’s The National. It’s painfully poignant. If you don’t feel that way, wait a couple years. I still think I’m a few years from fully understanding it all. Also, you may think you’re getting yourself into a quiet sit down show, but you’ll be surprised how hard the show gets at times. You may even get lead singer Matt Berringer leaping into the crowd and singing as he gets passed around, breaking your heart. I’m telling you. Don’t miss this.
4. Deadmau5 (Saturday 7:30) The only artist in the top-10 I’ve never seen. This is pure curiosity. I don’t know one Deadmau5 song. I haven’t seen him live. I’ve just seen a few random YouTube videos and heard endless gushing. One friend said I’d made a big mistake by going to Jay-Z over Deadmau5 at Coachella. That’s saying something. I’m dying to see the mouse head and get weird. Too bad it’s only a 7:30 show. He needs to be in the darkness. Thankfully he’s playing an after party show. I have a feeling this taste will make me crave more. Or at least hype me up extra for Muse.
3. Muse (Saturday 8:30)- They’re better than I want to admit. It’s the big rock spectacle that makes Festival Crashers giddy. Soaring, epic guitars. A front man who commands the stage. Lasers. Songs that only someone as garish as Rush would dare write. They pull it off. One day America will understand what England has for a while. These guys are rock gods. And not just in Guitar Hero.
2. LCD Soundsystem (Saturday 6:30) By far the biggest controversy between my list and Andy’s. I have them snug between Phish and Muse and he doesn’t list them at all. He finds them repetitive and too talk-y. I find James Murphy to be a godsend. They find a groove and stay in it for a while. If you’re bored, you’re not close enough or dancing enough. Andy will probably choose Monsters of Folk, and I do advise seeing them for a bit, but this is LCD’s last go-round. Let it just be us and them. Over and over again.
1. Phish – (Friday 8 p.m.) Quite simply my favorite live band in the world that doesn’t have Jack White. As I was reading over Andy’s top 10, my mouth literally hung open. We’ve never seen Phish together?! That can’t be true. 20 Umphrey’s shows together and 0 Phish? Oh well. They’re here. We only get two hours worth and they pull a tough draw with The Strokes, but Phish 3.0 is a force to be reckoned with and I’ll be astounded if any show takes over the #1 spot when it comes time to review. I can’t find one Austin friend who is remotely interested in seeing Phish. Thank god Andy’s coming. Long live Phish. Now those of you who think you can’t sit through a 10-minute song, go enjoy them yourself: