Austin City Limits: Friday, September 26, 2008

When I arrived on Friday the first thing I heard as I approached the entrance was Willie’s daughter, Paula Nelson, and her band covering Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe.” I listened in passing to a few from swing gurus, Asleep at the Wheel, on my way to see Christopher Deny.

The first full set I listened to was the good looking group from Austin who call themselves What Made Milwaukee Famous (WMMF). They started with “Blood, Sweat, & Fears,” the first track off their latest album, What Doesn’t Kill Us. They also did “Cheap Wine,” my personal favorite off that album. Delta Spirit was scheduled to perform later that day and WMMF announced them as their ‘good buddies’ and did a cover of Delta’s “Trash Can.” They then played their own “Resistance St.” and of course “Sultan,” their album single. I wanted to hear “Self-Destruct.” I didn’t. Oh well. Frontman Jason Davis had to apologize for being ‘a sweaty f*@#ing mess’ as he stopped singing mid-song and walked away to get a towel to wipe it from his eyes. It was HOT outside!

On my way to see Vampire Weekend I saw a guy with a shirt that said “Beer is Food” and I laughed. Vampire Weekend opened with “Mansard Roof,” the first track to their debut self-titled album. They dance funny. Chris Baio, the bass player, may have been developing some signature moves. In his white cut-off jean shorts no less. Frontman, Ezra Koenig, stole the show with his intensity and obscure vocals. Not to mention the fact that he is absolutely adorable in his own way. Yes, I called that a fact. I’m not going to raddle off the setlist. When you have only one album you pretty much do them all. They brought the Austin String Quartet out for a few numbers including “The Kid’s Don’t Stand a Chance” and “M79.”

Up next on my agenda was soul singer Jamie Lidell. First let me just say that he made me laugh when he came on-stage wearing black and white chef-like pants and Jerry Lee Lewis-like white-top loafers. I stood by the VIP entrance and it occurred to me that all I really need to do is invest in a big fancy camera and pretend I’m a freelance photographer to get right up close at these venues. Anyway, Lidell was great. Very entertaining. He has a song called “Another Day” that has been stuck in my head for the past two days now. It’s the first track on his 2008 album, Jim.

I had heard of the California natives, Delta Spirit, probably because they toured with the band Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah! I stuck around to hear “Strange Vine” and “People C’mon” from their debut, Ode To Sunshine. At that point I had to get something to eat because I realized that I had not done that all day. Music makes me forget about everything else.

M. Ward is an artist that I briefly explored in 2003 for Transfiguration of Vincent, and again this year after the formation of She & Him (his duo with actress Zooey Deschanel) and the release of their Volume One in March. I missed everything in between. My favorite from his set was “Sad, Sad Song” from the 2003 album.

I was waiting in line for Jamie Lidell’s autograph and listening to Patti Griffin performing on a nearby stage.

Mates of State was my second Barsuk Records band for the day, the first being WMMF. I really enjoyed the song “Goods (All In Your Head)” but I missed “The Re-arranger” which is the one song I really wanted to hear. I probably missed it because I left early to get closer for Jenny Lewis. Probably a well worth it sacrifice. I have a piece of trivia for those of you who watch the television series Weeds. The producers decided to air a different version of the theme song “Little Boxes” every week for the past two seasons. They have used over 30 artists or groups and Mates of State prepared a version for an episode during the third season.

I was in the WaMu tent for Jenny Lewis. This was the only venue with a tent and I was thankful for that because even that late in the afternoon it was still hotter than the devil outside. Anyway, her band came on first then she timidly walked on-stage wearing a vintage denim jumpsuit and sat at the keyboard. She started with “Rise Up With Fists!!” from her 2006 Rabbit Furr Coat with the Watson Twins. I need to get her new solo album, Acid Tongue, because she had a lot of new stuff I was not familiar with. That album came out last Tuesday, September 23, 2008. She played “Bad Man’s World” and “See Fernando” from the new release.

I caught “Famous” and “Small Town Kid” by American country music group, Eli Young Band.

I promised my friend Ty that I would go see N*E*R*D for him. I watched from a distance because I couldn’t even get close enough to take a picture. Pharrell would be the name of the frontman. Yes, he’s very entertaining…and easy on the eyes. They played a song called, “It’s Almost Over Now” from I don’t know what album then they did “Sooner or Later” and “You Know What” off the new June album, Seeing Sounds.

In 2003 I was introduced to a band called G. Love & Special Sauce and I had yet to see them live. This is a hip-hop blues ensemble from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Frontman, Garrett Dutton, is a small but amazing man. They performed for a good hour and then brought reggae hip-hop group, Slightly Stoopid, up for the last song which I did not know. I do, however, want to list for you the songs they played that I did know. By the way, they had an interpreter. You may know that this guy sings fast. It would be like interpreting “One Week” by Barnaked Ladies. She must have learned all the songs because there is no way she could just listen and repeat.

1. Parasite- Electric Mile, 2001
2. Booty Call- The Hustle, 2005
3. Baby’s Got Sauce- G. Love & Special Sauce, 1994
4. Holla!- Lemonade, 2006
5. Who’s Got the Weed- Superhero Brother, 2008
6. Peace, Love, and Happiness- Superhero Brother, 2008
7. Stepping Stones- Yeah, It’s That Easy, 1997

The Mars Volta ended the night. That’s pretty much all I have to say about that. I thought it was a weak ending. They are too wild for me I guess. I like the song “Ouroboros” from their latest January 29, 2008 album, The bedlam in Goliath. They played that song and then I left.

On Friday I made an executive decision to skip Jakob Dylan and the Gold Mountain Rebels to see Vampire Weekend. To my surprise Jakob Dylan was scheduled to play after festival hours on Saturday at Antones on 6th street. So, of course, I went. The opening band was called Back Door Slam, a young blues- rock trio from the U.K. Both were great and Jakob Dylan is funny. I am now listening to his new album, Seeing Things.