Concert Review: Austin City Limits Festival in Austin, TX (Day 1)

The 11th annual Austin City Limits Festival got underway Friday (10/12), filling the muggy day with a mixture of today's biggest buzz bands, including The Wombats and First Aid Kit, and established chart-toppers like Weezer, Florence + The Machine and The Black Keys.

The 11th annual Austin City Limits Festival got underway Friday (10/12), filling the muggy day with a mixture of today's biggest buzz bands, including The Wombats and First Aid Kit, and established chart-toppers like Weezer, Florence + The Machine and The Black Keys.

The sold-out crowd filled Austin's Zilker Park early on. The 46-acre grounds hosted tens of thousands within a few hours of the 11 a.m. gate opening, and the first few acts on each stage felt the love.

Liverpool indie-rockers The Wombats picked up their instruments for an 11:45 a.m. set before a packed audience of teenagers and 20-somethings prepared to sing-along. Despite having the sunniest (read: hottest) stage of the festival, the trio performed with an infectious energy delivered via bassist Tord Overland-Knudsen's constant jumps and kicks and the powerful rock of songs from the outfit's two albums -- 2007's "The Wombats Proudly Present: A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation" and 2011's "The Wombats Proudly Present: This Modern Glitch."

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Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit marked their return to ACL Fest with a midday performance that showcased the sisters' vocal harmonies and promoted their sophomore set, "The Lion's Roar," which surfaced in January. The pair, which took part in the 2010 festival, delivered a beautiful rendition of the 1968 Simon & Garfunkel single "America" as part of their set, which might have been lost on the under-20 crowd.

ACL Fest veterans Delta Spirit kept the energy alive for thousands despite the muggy heat and unyielding sun. After welcoming his mother to the show with a "Hi, Debbie!" delivered thousands-strong, frontman Matthew Vasquez then took to climbing the stage's scaffolding in the midst of the dozen-song set. The San Diego rockers rolled through tracks like "Tear It Up" and "California" from their eponymous release which surfaced in March, as well as old favorites such as "People C'mon" and "Trashcan" from their 2006 debut, "Ode to Sunshine."

Across the grounds, West Dallas gospel outfit The Relatives lined up in matching cobalt blue suits and canary yellow button-downs to perform beneath the festival's only tent, giving the audience respite from the late afternoon sun. The vivacious act, which originated in 1970 and is led by Reverend Gean West, delivered a combination of soul, gospel and funk while spicing things up with synchronized dancing and crowd participation. At times compared to the Temptations and Sly & the Family Stone, The Relatives worked through several tracks from their 1970s heyday, including "Speak to Me" and "Let Your Light Shine."

By days' end, approximately 75,000 attendees had walked through the festival gates, many of which stuck it out through the entire evening to catch the closing acts: AVICII and The Black Keys. Both outfits pulled respectable crowds, with AVICII employing light features and his well-known remixes to keep the audience bobbing and bouncing. The DJ's bass streamed all the way across the park to The Black Keys, where the Ohio pair ripped through a jam-packed setlist featuring mostly tracks off of their two most recent albums, 2010's Grammy-winning "Brothers" and last year's chart-topping "El Camino." Despite the sound bleed, tens of thousands danced to the duo's well-worn hits.

Along with a significant chance of rain, Day 2 of the Austin City Limits Festival brings Rufus Wainwright, Metic, Andrew Bird, Band of Skulls, The Shins, The Roots, Bassnectar, Goyte, Jack White and Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Stay tuned for more coverage from the ground in Austin, TX.

 

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