GJD at The Shows: ACL Day 1: 9.26.08 Print
Monday, 29 September 2008 22:00
By Nick Friese - GJD
The line-up at ACL this year was as diverse as the crowds and people of Austin, Texas. The bands ranged from Beck, Alison Krauss & Robert Plant, Patty Griffin, Mars Volta, Freddy Jones Band, G Love and Special Sauce, Blues Traveler, Joe Bonamassa, Raconteurs, Foo Fighters, Galatic, and many more. The festival takes place in Austin's Zilker Park in a big open field that has a backdrop of the city that hosts it. Stages are sprinkled from corner to corner of the wide-open park where the music fills the air for 3 full days and nights.

It is quite amazing that the 8 different stages don't bleed into one another as the acts are cranking out their sets thoughout the festival.

We arrived, picked up our press creds and off we went into the dust bowl, where the music was playing from every corner of Zilker Park.

The first act GJD caught was the Freddy Jones Band; a super talented group of roots rock musicians originally from Chicago, who reformed in 2005 after a 5-year break. Lead by Wayne Healey (guitars/vocals) and Marty Lloyd (guitars/vocals), they ripped out melodic guitar driven rock that was a blend of sounds from the Allmans, Grateful Dead, The Band, and other influences that you could hear in their beautifully written originals. They played favorites Texas Skies, In a Daydream, The Puppet, Mystic Buzz, Take Your Time, And She Cried during the short 45 minute set. Wayne Healy and Rob Bonaccorsi traded sweet, toneful, melodic riffs throughout the high-energy set. Their sound was killer and had the crowd up on its feet for the entire performance.

Next up we caught English soul man Jamie Lidell was electric during his super powered soul-set and had the place jumping. His band in white jump suits, robes, and funky attire, matched the retro-cool vibe of his music. If you closed your eyes and you'd think you were hearing a blend of James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, and Little Richard - open them and you're staring at a younger looking Elvis Costello. Lidell played tunes from his latest album "Jim" with a romping version of  "Little Bit o Feel Good".


Afterwards, we headed back to the WAMU memorial stage for Jenny Lewis who is a member of indie rock Rilo Kiley, stepped out on her own to shake the house with a mix of blues rock, folk, pop, roots rock, and R&B. Backed up by a super tight band they pumped out an inspired set with killer harmonies, burning solos, tempo swells, and even tears during the performance of her title track to her new album "Acid Tongue". You'll be hearing more from her in the trades and on the radio.


The next act we caught was amazing - Antibalas a Brooklyn based super funk - African rhythm inspired 12 -man band. With an energy that blew the roof off of the WAMU memorial like the housing market did to their banking biz, they offered up infectious deep dance driven beats and also found the brilliance to add in time signature changes that would give even jazz master Jim Hall a brain cramp. This bands sonic quality was a bulletproof as its name. They also found the time in between riffs to poke fun at the stage sponsor (WAMU) and the current administration in Washington. This band is serious about its politics and activism as its passion for performing and making awe-inspiring music.


As we made our way out for the evening the sounds from the two main stages on each end of Zilker Park put day one into focus - Mars Volta blasting out over driven guitars and screechy vocals overlapping the funky and percussive Latin grooves of Manu Chau. It was a great way to remember the diversity of the people and the music of ACL