One look at the ACL’s lineup for Sunday and I knew I wasn’t geared to seeing much. Sunday’s close was abrupt. The lineup’s were less enticing. The media tent was empty. The promotional parties were over. And though my father would have relished the opportunity to see the night’s headliners, The Eagles, I shied away from the massive crowd to hear Hell Freezes Over in the Austin heat.
While I had every intention on getting to the festival grounds by a modest 3pm (recovering from the previous day’s drinking), my plans were thwarted. A little pass noon, I received an urgent update that Gayngs had canceled their set. The update stated that their gear bus had left Emo’s with all their instruments where they’d performed the night before, leaving the group without a fiddle to play. With my reason for getting to festival early gone, it gave me more time to drink water and prepare for the evening.
Having missed Band of Horses on several occasions, I was determined to catch them this time around. Arriving before their set, I caught the end of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. The old school, hippie rock outfit were better than I thought. Their popular single, “Home,” with its bright western sound was so uplifting that even Johnny Cash might sound happy on the track–felt perfect as the sun began to set.
Then the moment I’d been waiting for arrived, Band Of Horses took the stage. The enigmatic crowd clapped as the group jumped quickly into their album, Cease to Begin, with “No One Is Gonna Love You.” They sounded crisp, almost too crisp–just like the album. The group wasn’t overly animated, impromptu, or engaging–making their set feel like a listening session, rather than a performance.
At the same time The Flaming Lips played the opposite main stage. The group is known for their entertaining live sets, light shows and Wayne Coyne’s bubble ball. I made it to the stage in time to see Coyne complain repeatedly about the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm, “Come on!” he beckoned for the crowd’s cheer. Nevertheless, the light show, confetti, and microphone cameras (which gave up close personals of Coyne’s face) proved interesting, to say the least. Coyne seemed to put every ounce of emotion into his performance, almost exhausted towards the end. As the group concluded with “Do You Realize,” I couldn’t help but feel that the lyrics, “Do you realize the sun doesn’t go down, it just an illusion caused by the world spinnin’ round,” were the perfect way to leave the festival.