Pushing the Limits
Texas' annual Austin City Limits music festival absolutely rocked fans' faces off on Weekend One with three jam-packed days of huge headliners like Vampire Weekend, pictured here. VW played a solid set with back-to-back numbers from their three LPs, much to the delight of the audience -- an unusual mix of teenyboppers and middle-aged hipsters taking extreme mirror selfies with frontman Ezra Koenig. ACL continues next weekend at Austin's 46-acre Zilker Park. Check www.aclfestival.com for a complete schedule and tickets.
Psychedelic blues-rock locals White Denim blew minds on Sunday with their experimental jazzy hooks and rocking interaction in support of their latest album, "Corsicana Lemonade." Austinites didn't need to travel far to see one of the weekend's homegrown highlights.
The Cure rocked the ACL crowd with a two-hour set of timeless pop, covering three decades as a band led by one weathered Robert Smith. Even though their best tunes were in the charts when some of us were in junior high, they will never get old. (Photographer Sandy Carson had never seen or shot The Cure before, so this was a special score.)
The Joy Formidable
Welsh indie-rock trio The Joy Formidable tore up the afternoon Bud Light stage like they were drinking Red Bull. Pint-sized guitar wizard Rhiannon Bryan was as entertaining to watch as listening to her banter -- and yes, kids, that's a Welsh accent!
The Black Angels
ATX psychedelic rockers and organizers of Austin's annual Psych Fest, The Black Angels are best viewed through colored glasses with dimmer switches turned way down -- a perfect start to an afternoon recovery cocktail of reverb, delay and wah-wah.
Keep Austin Weird
Austin's kind of got a reputation as the music capital of the world -- or at least the American Southwest. ACL festival-goers take a break from the tunes, get proactive with couples' yoga and get misted in the Texas heat.
When the 64-year-old showman took the stage at ACL, he showed no signs of slowing down -- just like Stevie Wonder, two years before. Richie's bag of hits -- "Easy," "Dancing on the Ceiling," even a cover of The Commodores' "Brick House" -- ended with a "We Are the World" singalong with no shortage of participation by the 35,000-strong crowd. One for the ACL history books, Richie gave joint headliners Atoms for Peace a run for their money.
Shovels and Rope
South Carolina husband-and-wife duo Shovels and Rope are a ball of organic folk harmonies and foot-stomping melodies. They taped an episode of "ACL Live" at Austin's Moody Theater back in April, but it was great to see them tear it up in person at Zilker Park during festival.
Glasgow, Scotland's Franz Ferdinand have a sense of humor, know how to put on a show without taking themselves too seriously and still have Gang of Four to thank for their angular guitars. Despite it being 90 degrees out and standing in the blaring sun, the lads managed to keep the audience stoked and jigging to their hits, even blasting a cover of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love."
Vampire Weekend fans get up on the barrier to show them boys how much Austin loves 'em.
Muse opened with three chords and blew the generator, causing them to start 20 minutes late and giving their fans an even bigger dangling carrot of melodrama. The UK trio's over-the-top symphonic, extravagant performance was just what the bated audience was begging for, as they cast their axes high to a backdrop of technical circuit boards.
The Shouting Matches
Everything Justin Vernon touches turns to gold, as does the Bon Iver frontman's side band, The Shouting Matches. Out with the sultry, cinematic Bon Iver vibe here and in with Southern blues rock and cracking jokes for a change.
Local songbird Dana Falconberry wooed the crowd at the afternoon Austin Ventures stage with her band's featherlight, wispy folk-pop rock, conjuring landscapes of the Texas hill country. A welcome break to tune out the other seven (!!!) packed stages in Zilker Park.
London four-piece powerhouse Savages are an energetic, animated, fierce bunch of well, you know. Imagine Siouxsie Sioux taking on Karen O as a frontwoman, with the spirit of Joy Division and Southern Death Cult giving birth to the backing band. Hands down one of the best performances of this year's festival.
If you've been waiting patiently for your fave band to go on, then get your hopes postponed for 20 minutes while the power gets repaired, you deserve to wield a bumper sticker the size of a banner.