Zilker Park is huge. Dusk is the prettiest part, when they set up the lights in white bubbles like little moons floating here and there amongst the sparks from lit cigarettes and cell phone luminarios. Stage lights flash their colors of the rainbow to the strumming of guitars and meshed voices that meet in the middle of the dust cloud that the air becomes while we beat the ground stage-hopping and stumbling through the sea of people.

My friend says one of the best things about being a Metalhead that’s able to come to Austin City Limits is going home and telling all of your indie friends that you just spent the weekend with all of their favorite bands, and they didn’t. Bragging rights. Huge bragging rights.

DAY ONE

  • Twitter: Dooglar: Arrived at ACL Fest. First set: Dan Dyer. It is hot!
    11:56 AM Sep 26th, 2008 from txt

After getting lucky with free parking and catching a bus down to the park, we managed to catch the first set on the AT&T Blue Room Stage. Dan Dyer was starting the afternoon off with very soulful vocals. He jammed away on the keys, backed by a bass that was carved at the top of the neck to look like a string bass or cello.

  • Twitter: Dooglar: Dyer’s bassist using cool fretless with curly cello like head stock.
    12:02 PM Sep 26th, 2008 from txt

Gorgeous. Drummer throws down the backup vocals. Together this 3-piece band flowed sweet rhythms, funky soul, and a lot of sweat. (It was getting hot out…)

  • Twitter: Dooglar: On a bus now, going to a VIP lounge for “gifting”. I just met Chuck Woolery…
    12:47 PM Sep 26th, 2008 from txt

Doug was invited to a press gifting so I was able to tag along. Everyone working it treated you like a famous person (I now have a taste of how Doug Van Pelt feels) and they were throwing free gifts at you. They had a tattoo artist there just waiting for some spur-of-the-moment kid like me to jump in the chair. I was so tempted, but I held off that urge, I’ll save it for a rainy day I guess. I loaded up with Sweet Leaf Tea and Skull Candy headphones. After all this excitement was over, Doug dropped me back off at ACL to hang out for the rest of the day. I played like I really knew what I was doing and went to the press area to hit up their snacks and then I found some shade and decided to chill and watch the thousands of people walk by. That is always really entertaining. Every type of person and age was at this festival.

People started crowding around to see Slightly Stoopid play. I decided to stay for a few songs and see if all the excitement would play out. To me, Slightly Stoopid was just that – although they do pull off a good reggae-punk-rock-party.

  • Twitter: Dooglar: The media tent rules! Trying to get some writing done. Tempted by the wifi connection.

Next: The Dell Dome. Outside the tent was a disclaimer reading something along the lines of, “Upon entering this dome you may be recorded. If you are against us using any of this footage, please don’t enter.” I didn’t happen to catch that sign. There was a lot to keep you entertained inside this little dome. First off – the air conditioning. There were different stations set up with arts and crafts. You could make your own buttons. Some went to town on this and you would see people with 5 or more buttons pinned to their shirts. I chuckled at that but then only realized how addicting it could be after making just one. In the back there was a station where you could iron funky designs onto your shirt… One station that was catching a lot of attention was the hair-stylist station where people were getting hair done in out of the ordinary, yet fashionable ways and then topped off with a streak of neon color sprayed on. Next to that was an airbrush station. I wanted to be different and have them do airbrush on my shoe, but the joke was on me because it didn’t turn out and my shoe looks like it is covered in green boogers. Overall the main focus was on all the computers Dell had set up. There were probably around a dozen computers set up for people to use and they were advertising like crazy for kids to jump on them.

Mid afternoon I was drawn to the huge sculptured ‘ART’ letters set out on a side of the field. Vendors were set up selling everything from jewelry and clothes to paintings and sculptured objects. I walked around there and checked everything out for quite a while. There were so many beautiful things to look at. I finally convinced myself to buy a pair of earrings.

  • Twitter: Dooglar: I am in the photo pit for Mars Volta. I had to sign over all rights in the universe for there photos. Ha ha.
    8:18 PM Sep 26th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: I am really discovering the Mars Volta for the first time. I have heard their music before, but live is alive!
    8:39 PM Sep 26th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: Whoever said that the Mars Volta sounded like rush…well, they were right!
    8:45 PM Sep 26th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: I feel lost…like a person watching rush during their caress of steel era. Lots of jamming, lots of screaming, cool dynamics, but it re …
    9:04 PM Sep 26th, 2008 from txt

It seemed like the more I walked around the more stages I found, there were 8 in total. The crowds gathered around each stage were so large and backed up all the way to the next stage closet to them. It was crazy. Looking towards the AMD stage there flashing lights and bumpin’ beats. I decided to head that way and catch a few songs preformed by N.E.R.D. If you looked past the vulgarity and lyricism, they put on an eye grabbing show with break-dancers and loud bass. There were so many people at this show, I was so far away from the stage.

  • Twitter: Dooglar: Weed smells so funny. I am almost surprised people smoke it at concerts anymore.
    9:12 PM Sep 26th, 2008 from txt

DAY TWO

  • Twitter: Dooglar: Am enjoying ACL Festival this weekend. Plan on going down for the music late today, instead of the all-day hot weather marathon.
    2:17 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from web
  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Finally here. City and color. Right on time.
    4:53 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: Yeah, I just parallel parked my bug in a spot with inches on both sides.
    5:49 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt

Hmmm… Bragging rights? So I’d say, “Dude, I just saw Dallas Green with City And Colour. That’s your favorite band. They rocked. I’m so dumb that I didn’t even know the names to all of their songs, so I had to look them up to brag a little better. Dallas said that when he looked at the lineup he didn’t know why they even got to play the fest. Somebody passed out during the set. He said it was from the heat, but I know that you would’ve done the same just if you got to see them play “Coming Home”…

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Finishing up the set with Coming Home. I am an emo baby.
    5:21 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: LevithePoet: I am like two miles away from the MGMT stage. Two million people.
    5:34 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Gettin’ ready for Conor Oberst. Probably the most stoked I’ve been to see of any show this year. Dude’s my hero. I am a smiling girl.
    6:11 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: I am about to watch @levithepoet sing and cry along to Conor like he’s at a dashboard show!
    6:15 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt

And Conor Oberst! One of these days I’ve got to catch his Bright Eyes set, but Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band – it puts a whole new meaning to folk rock. I mean, they compare this guy to Bob Dylan, and his songwriting has progressed so much. They opened up with “Sausalito,” and ran through the whole self-titled album set list. His new material is much more positive than before, and he’s come a long way from the drug-influenced Indie icon of his past. MVB almost seems to build on Bright Eye’s Cassadega – almost completely abandoning the said emo-laced indie for pure folk rockabilly goodness (aside from Oberst’s classic stream-of-conscious lyric style) – perhaps best showcased through “I Don’t Want To Die (In The Hospital),” “Danny Callahan,” “Get Well Cards,” and “Moab.”

  • Twitter: Dooglar: Conor is, I have to admit, worth the hype. His guitarist plays the oddest body guitar.
    6:54 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: LevithePoet: In the words of John McEntire- if you’re going to satisfy a vice it’s gonna be to Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes.
    7:58 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: The ACL fest grounds are packed tonight. I am so stoked to see the “tour of The decade.” we’ll see.
    8:02 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Seated and ready for Robert Plant and Allison Krauss. Mom. Tell dad. Ha ha.
    8:13 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt

I think no amount of excitement the whole day may have matched the beats my heart skipped when a personal hero, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, and Alison Krauss stepped onto the stage for their Saturday night conclusion to day two of ACL. The only thing that could’ve made it better… well, it happened.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Holy CRAP. The violinist just played the guitar solo for Zeppelin’s cover of… “Black Dog” – is it?
    8:35 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: Wow. Robert plant and Allison Krause are bringing the bluesy soul of rock and roll.
    8:42 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt

They covered Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.” to an incredibly slow-paced, beautiful bluegrass rendition. I was surprised by how classy the whole band was. Violin, stand-up bass, keys, bluesy drum-rock.

  • Twitter: Dooglar: I have counted at least eleven different instruments on stage. When they jam, it soars!
    9:25 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt

Suits. Ties. Guitar – and not just any guitar … T Bone Burnett-in the flesh-guitar.

  • Twitter: Dooglar: T bone burnet cut a rug with his guitar playing.
    8:43 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt

Alison Krauss might have one of the most breathy, seductive voices I’ve ever heard, and Plant’s harmony … it’s like … it’s like heaven in your ears.

  • Twitter: Dooglar: Now Robert Plant is standing back by the drums, adding tender and soft BGV’s only as needed. Who’s the smiling girl now, @levithepoet?
    8:46 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: LevithePoet: @Dooglar is a SMILING GIRL!
    8:47 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt in reply to Dooglar
  • Twitter: Dooglar: That gypsy song from the album sounds so rich and groovy.
    8:55 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: Black Country Woman. O My! I actually have goose bumps!
    9:05 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Hey Hey momma why’d you treat me mean? Hey Hey momma, well that’s alright… I know your sister too. Music makes me happy. Ha Ha.
    9:06 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: Led zeppelin did something to this planet…and it is so wonderful!
    9:06 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt

It’s like you just ate the first steaming-hot, honey-dipped sopapilla of your life and now you can’t get enough and you’ve become a bottomless pit for the sweet melody, and you lose yourself and forget you’re standing on solid earth.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Thought about watching Beck but after the first HELL YEAH it just doesn’t even compare to the beauty of Plant and Krauss.
    9:13 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt

The only reason you remember you’re not flying forty minutes through the set are the annoying group of loud-mouth girls behind you discussing the problems with “males” and “how they’re just too stupid to understand anything” and the chick flick they saw before the show.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: I just told a group of drunk girls to shut up. Needless to say they didn’t take it too kindly.
    8:43 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: The battle of evermore! More goose bumps!
    9:31 PM Sep 27th, 2008 from txt

DAY THREE

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Church, then Flyleaf, Colour Revolt, Band of Horses, and Foo Fighters at ACL fest. I’m a tired dwarf.
    11:07 AM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

I could hear Flyleaf from a mile away. Literally. No, I mean – literally. The closest drop off point we could find for the last day was at an IHOP next to the onramp for Loop 1 a mile or two from the park. We were running late, but in a way that made the opening even more powerful.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Was that a worship opening? I’m closing in from a distance.
    2:37 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: Flyleaf started with an a-capella worship tune, I love you Lord, and Lacey told the Tina story.
    2:49 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: Seeing lacey tilt her head back, eyes closed, hands raised on the big screen… very cool.
    2:51 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

There wasn’t a huge “Christian” population of artists at ACL – at least not this year – so when Lacey’s haunting voice echoed across the distance with the opener of “I Love You, Lord” that could be heard from our trek-start point, it was like a spirit-lifter from the onset, and I itched to get there as fast as I could.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: How does such an awesome voice come from that?! Covering a David Crowder song! Awesome!
    2:54 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: LevithePoet: I can feel you all around me!!! CRAP!
    2:57 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

Can I just say this? Can I just say this, freely? Lacey Mosley is gorgeous. Gorgeous.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Flyleaf just announced they’re going to be recording a new record in the next couple months!
    3:12 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

Her voice is powerful. Her band was able to release energy that not many others expressed due to the hot Texas sun, and the whole experience made for a great concert. And they wear their convictions out on their sleeves. Numerous times, Lacey dedicated songs to the Lord, particularly “All Around Me” which noted is about Jesus’ presence and love. The song “Cassie” was explained, and while many people, including myself, thought it was a song about suicide – Mosley explained it to be named after one of the two girls killed at Columbine High School for their faith in Christ. Hence the lyrics, “Do you believe in God…? Say yes, you pull the trigger … and Cassie pulled the trigger.”

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Lacey explains song CASSIE about columbine shooting. Do you believe in God? Say yes to pull the trigger.
    3:24 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

“Sorrow,” “I’m Sorry” and “Red Sam” adorned the set as well. By far, the most powerful song was the clincher, “There For You.” Lacey dedicated the song to a woman who had the words sung to her by her husband the last time they spoke before he was killed in Iraq.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Last song of the set dedicated to wife who’s husband sang the song to her the last time they talked before he was killed in Iraq
    3:29 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: LevithePoet: I will always be there for you… Someone you can come to…
    3:30 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Closing out with I’M FALLING ON MY KNEES JESUS YOU’RE ALL THIS HEARTS WORTH LIVING FOR. I WILL ALWAYS BE HERE FOR YOU…
    3:31 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

She mixed the lyrics “I’m falling on my knees, offering all of me… Jesus, You’re all this heart’s worth living for” into the last verse. It was an emotional experience. One I hadn’t expected, honestly.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Got a good spot for the Colour Revolt set. I’m super stoked. JONATHAN! THIS IS FOR YOU!
    4:29 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

Colour Revolt was next on my list. One of my friends got me into Colour Revolt in high school. I listened to a song of theirs called “Mattresses Underwater” in my car after a concert and got hooked. It was snowing outside. Needless to say, it wasn’t snowing outside here. There were showers, though. Showers of sweat. Gross, disgusting, dripping showers of sweat. But I got a nice spot and the rest of the show took my mind off it. They played a good mix of old and new material, but they got me thinking…

What the heck is Indie music, anyway? Because I’m pretty sure Colour Revolt fits that category, but I’m pretty sure that category encapsulates everything that doesn’t fit into a category, so now it’s just big and random and nonsense.

Anyway, the set was awesome. I was surprised that there weren’t more people there for them, but I sang like a child with no ear for pitch or tone whatsoever, “There goes Adam with the devil’s head – his body’s all naked and red!” Songs like “A Siren”, “Moses of the South”, and “Mattresses Underwater” were definite favorites, and many people in the crowd knew members of the band, so the whole set made for some funny crowd interaction.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Doing a little writing while sitting listening to Okkervil River. I don’t like my writing recently. It sucks.
    6:03 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Just caught Racontours “Steady As She Goes” and “Your Blue Veins” – both crazy elongated for the live show.
    7:25 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

The Raconteurs. Need I say more? Jack White and band are crazy, and though I’d have probably chosen the White Stripes over the side project, it’s like saying “Hey, I saw Angels & Airwaves, so I kind of saw Blink 182!” I mean, it’s Jack White, man. It’s still clanging guitars and random goodness, and semi-kidsy (though admittedly more complex) drums, and unique lyrics to boot. I wasn’t able to catch much of the set, but the two songs I meandered through the crowd upon were the only two I hoped I’d hear – “Steady As She Goes” and “Blue Veins” – both incredible elongated, probably seven to ten minutes each, for the concert experience.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Band of Horses opened up with When I Lived Alone… Is There A Ghost. It’s packed out. This band is bigger than I thought.
    7:41 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: This Band of Horses song sounds like Jefferson Airplane.
    8:08 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

I was able to catch Band of Horses, which I was incredibly excited about. Let me say, they are much, much, much bigger than I thought they ever were. I couldn’t get within eighty yards of that stage without conjuring up whatever small amounts of claustrophobic tendencies I do have. It was a beautiful evening, though, and sitting on the grass near the back of the crowd listening to Christopher Webb sing “Is There A Ghost” as the opener. There’s something about certain bands that make you feel like very few other’s can. Like an immediate sense of some foreign feeling inside, and that’s what Band of Horses does for me. Webb’s positive influence is really cool, especially in a time when so many people like to focus on negative everything – so when he starts to sing “the world is such a wonderful place” right as I stumble and sit in a puddle of spilt beer, there’s an irony there that I can appreciate more fully.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Totally just sat in a nice big puddle of beer while Band Of Horses sings “The world is such a wonderful place!”
    8:14 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

The encouraging, “No One’s Gonna Love You” concluded the hour, and if you weren’t missing your significant other before the song started, you were by the time it ended.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: @Dooglar I would offer to find you but you’re just not pretty enough to stand out in the crowd and, I mean, look at this sea
    8:26 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt in reply to Dooglar

(This one’s gonna start out like The Raconteurs):

  • Twitter: Dooglar: I am in the photo pit for the Foo Fighters! I like this!
    8:42 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

Foo Fighters. Need I say more?

  • Twitter: Dooglar: Be thankful, Dave Ghrohl said. I knew he was a Christian!
    8:47 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

Take every single person at the festival, subtract a couple – maybe take it from 100,000 down to 80,000 (you know, for a rough estimate)– and get them all in one clump screaming and bonding and singing “Times Like These” as we “…learn to live again.” It’s nuts. All I wanted to hear was “Learning to Fly” and “My Hero” – and I heard both of them. I was a happy, smiling child.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: LEARNING TO FLY! First song of their I heard back in fifth grade. It’s like history lane. Because I’m so old and mature.
    8:38 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: Dooglar: I am gonna watch from the back to get a head start on my exit. No one else steal my idea!
    8:52 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt
  • Twitter: LevithePoet: I’m totally stealing @Dooglar’s idea.
    8:55 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

Do you know how many times I was a happy, smiling child this weekend?

It took me twenty minutes to weasel my way through the crowd after “My Hero” ended. People don’t like to be interrupted by weaseling people during “their song” either. You hear them talking about it like it’s what they danced to at their wedding and you are the jerk that ran out onto the dance floor, stole the spotlight, and ruined the moment. It’s horrible. But eventually you get to the back, you can breathe again, you can move your limbs, and walk on towards the bus stop smiling…

…like a child with chocolate.

  • Twitter: LevithePoet: Alright I’m out. All I wanted to hear was Hero and they just played it.
    Nothin’ beats it. A good conclusion.
    9:16 PM Sep 28th, 2008 from txt

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