(Editor’s Note: The lovely Nora Spitznogle visited the Austin City Limits Festival 2012 and has provided recaps of all the action. Here’s what she saw/heard on day one…)
Austin City Limits Fest 2012 – Day One
It was a hot and muggy day in Zilker Park but the crowd of 70,000-ish music fans didn’t seem to mind, crowding close to eight stages to catch their favorite bands.
I started my day with the ever-delightful First Aid Kit. The Swedish sisters, Johanna and Klara, drew a large, enthusiastic crowd for their early time slot. They kicked off their set with the ethereal “The Lions Roar.” The sister’s stage banter seemed a little nervous and stilted at first, but they quickly hit their stride. They invited the crowd to sing along to their tribute song “Emmylou,” and it seemed that thousands of us knew the words. I was blown away by their cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America,” that they played for Paul Simon at Sweden’s Polar Music Prize ceremony this summer. Their set was a great start to the festival for me.
Delta Spirit also played to a large early crowd. Their set was fun and perfect for a crowd playing hooky on a Friday afternoon. Front-man Mathew Vasquez was clearing enjoying himself, introducing his mom to the cheering masses and jumping around. He was dancing along to “Idaho,” tripped over his amp and fell backwards. He impressively bounced back up and continued the song without missing a beat. I gave him bonus points for not swallowing the guitar pick in his mouth.
Esperanza Spalding is smokin’. The ‘jazz’ label covers a lot of musical ground, and bassist Spalding and her 11-peice band, Radio Music Society, moved easily from pop to funk to quirky arraignments and scat. Spalding’s 2011 Grammy for Best New Artist was well deserved, and I’m guessing that Justin Bieber has gotten over the disappointment of his loss.
I was able to catch a few minutes of the bluegrass-pop band, Trampled by Turtles. Those boys are engaging and earnest and I’m sorry that I didn’t have more time with them.
I rounded out my day with the delightful Alabama Shakes. I’ve been playing the hell out of their record, Boys & Girls, but I was not prepared for Brittany Howard’s adorableness. The high-energy set had the folks in front of their stage dancing from the start and I’m sure several teen-age girls in the crowd begged their parents for a guitar when they got home.