Black Crowes, Kasabian, Keane help kick off Austin City Limits Festival
The impending threat of Hurricane Rita didn't stop the fourth annual Austin City Limits Festival from successfully kicking off on the shores of Town Lake in downtown Austin, Texas.
Covering nearly half of the 351 acres of Zilker Park, this well-planned three-day musical celebration remains true to its namesake, the long-running PBS series 'Austin City Limits,' which marks 30 years on the air this season.
Like the television show, the festival showcases not only some of the most revered acts in modern-day music, but also several artists who are just now emerging onto the scene. As in years past, tens of thousands of fans (some 65,000 this year, to be exact) withstand sweltering heat, mini-dust storms, and traditional concert lines to witness this history in the making.
From the literally dozens of showcases playing out across the park on Friday, some highlights emerged from the pack:
Day One: Friday, September 23, 2005
A midday time slot in this heat-ridden city was an eye-opening experience for these four UK natives, but it didn't stop their ability to rock out wholeheartedly. Charismatic frontman Tom Meighan, looking like a cross between joker Johnny Knoxville and "Las Vegas" actor Josh Duhamel, belted the popular single "Cut Off," all the while jumping around stage as if on a trampoline. "Butcher Blues" and "Processed Beats," both from their self-titled debut album, epitomized the band's edgy, psychedelic pop sound, but with a performance more energetic and heavier than experienced on disc. Their dedicated performance despite the heat developed quite a crowd, with many passersby drawn in to watch.
When you see this tall, clean-cut cowboy walk onstage, it's instantly understandable why his initiation into country music occurred at the age of fifteen. He's got the look, and as soon as he opens his mouth to begin crooning, it's evident he's got the voice and writing ability to match. "I Take Your Love", a single from his 1999 release "A Stranger to Me Now" and a stereotypical country ballad brimming with lovey-dovey lyrics, is exactly why Warden's songwriting has won awards. Country legend George Strait took Warden's own "Desperately" to Top 10 status in early 2004, but that didn't keep Warden from playing the thoughtful song for his personal ACL audience. He finished with a toothy-white smile, "It feels nice to play a hit."
This matrimonial and musical duo garnered quite a following on a lazy, sun-scorched afternoon. Their simple stage presence (a keyboard, drum kit and the two bodies) focused the crowd's attention on the complexity of the music rather than an explosive visual display. Kori Gardner's shrill vocals and aggressive keys matched the rhythmic drumming and complementary voice of her hubby, Jason Hammel, on the punchy "I Know, and I Said Forget It." Mocking their own marital issues in "Whiner's Bio" with the straight-forward acknowledgements of how they argue, the younger crowd seemed appreciative and thankful for the insight.
The hot Texas weather can be a challenge for an Englishman, so admitted a sweaty Tom Chaplin with a rosy-hued evening sky as his backdrop. Nevertheless, the threesome managed to please the bulging crowd with their lyrically-driven piano pop. Radio hits "Everybody's Changing," "This Is The Last Time," and "Somewhere Only We Know" riled up thousands and prompted sing-alongs throughout the crowd. Chaplin, one of the most humble artists witnessed all day, sincerely requested the audience listen and comment on new songs that might potentially make the next album. Listeners obliged with roars of approval for the emotionally-charged "Nothing In Your Way" and the slower "Try Again." With this kind of crowd reaction, Keane just might see another invitation to the ACL Festival.
Being a Texas festival, it only seems right to end the day with homage to Southern rock. Even the Lyle Lovett crowd clear across the field could pick up the thunderous tunes of the Black Crowes, led by brothers Chris and Rich Robinson. Strong, soulful vocals and rock-solid guitar kept the packed-tight audience invigorated right through the last leg of this marathon day. The band cruised with extended jams for a few songs, including "Soul Singing," before picking it back up again. When the familiar opening notes of "Hard to Handle" hit the crowd, even the weary got back up to dance. The Black Crowes performed crowd favorites "Jealous Again" and "Remedy" to close this first night.