uggs from australia Austin City Limits Music Festival

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Day one of the Austin City Limits Music Festival was marred by a fire that broke out in a large truck, critically burning two workers. The fire also burned some portable toilets, sending a massive column of black smoke up over the festival. Patrons, ever the gracious type, completely accommodated emergency crews, moving back quickly and even helping to set up perimeters.

Pete Yorn, whose set interrupted by the fire, provided just the right up chill music to allay any fears of festival goers. based singer is on tour with Crowded House, who turned in a fine set later in the day.

Louisianas Amy LaVere, now based in Memphis, showed that powerful things can come in small packages by playing her stand up bass that is much bigger than she is. LaVere, who played the role of Wanda Jackson in the Johnny Cash based film Walk the Line, charmed the crowd with numbers from her new album Anchors and Anvils and moved easily between country and blues. She also won the best song title of the day award with Killing Him didnt make the Love go Away. She apparently had never had anyone doing sing for the deaf during her shows so asked the interpreter to show her what the title looked like after the number was over. She also did a female take of Dylans Ill remember you that was quite sweet.

Peter Bjorn John, known as PBJ to the initiated, have been touring for two years non stop, and thus were very comfortable on stage. But they do carry the burden of having a song so catchy that folks just cant wait to hear it, Young Folks, otherwise known as that whistling song. Two of their tour mates joined them to give it an added twist, with Melanie Draisey of Clientele providing the female verse and chorus. The crowd seemed pleased. And they closed out their set with a great version of Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldntve) showing why that 1978 song is such a Buzzcocks classic.

Changing gears into a soulful direction, I wandered off to see The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker based on a friends recommendation. The group was doing some explosive 50s and 60s RB ala James Brown, and Walker was up to the task. That is the beauty of this festival. Tired of Rock? Wander over and see some country. Tired of that? Go see some soul. That gets old? Go see Queens of the Stone Age or the Killers. You get the idea.

The inexplicably named Manchester Orchestra provided a heavy bass drone, making you want to listen even if you werent familiar with their music. Dont expect Beethoven or Bach, this band is more Death Cab for Cutie. The somewhat haunting Where have you been? provided a highlight for their set.

A few large raindrops from some welcome clouds came down during Crowded Houses performance, cooling the crowd with the cool group. The venerable band seemed to please old fans and probably made some new ones. Neil Finn explained they were happy to be ending their current tour with the reunited group in Austin, a well known loving cradle of pop music. Many had never seen the House, as they hadnt really existed since 96. This year they reformed and have been touring, but as lead Neil Finn explained, their members were about to be scattered to the wind of the far reaches of the globe, including Los Angeles, New Zealand, England and beyond. At first blush it might sound like the latest dance floor pap, but listen to the lyrics and youll hear references to the Tamil Tigers and the PLO. The crowd seemed at first unfamiliar, but warmed quickly for a set at least, the Dell stage was turned into a hip European nightclub. A friend has said he had seen her on Letterman the night before and she didnt do much, but she turned in a workout video performance Friday. Her second album Kala was recently released.

James Hunter, another Brit, but a soul singer instead of dance floor diva,
uggs from australia Austin City Limits Music Festival
got the crowd going with steady guitar playing and a personality you just want to like. His aim is for classic blues, RB and soul, and provides a 50s backdrop that is anything but nostalgic pap.

Gotan Project provided a big highlight for the day, with Argentinian tango seamlessly interwoven with electronica and dance dub, mesmerizing the crowd and even freezing the photographers in the pit from taking pictures for a moment. The stage draped in white provided a classical environ where a full 10 piece group, including a string section, a bandeon and a classical guitarist. Formed by members from Argentina, France and Switzerland, the group truly is the definition of international. They showed by they are a KCRW staple and why Il tango es en musico de vida.

Bjork impressed in a funky gold and black dressed and wearing face paint that Mel Gibson might have worn in Braveheart if he was warring the Pixie nation. Her quirkiness appeals to some, annoy others, and confounds most. But with so few stateside appearances, everyone wanted to see her and she did not disappoint, singing tunes from her latest Volta. Spectacle? Yes. Spectacular? Depends on your point of view, as she is definitely an acquired taste, but no one can deny her uniqueness.

Up today are LAs Cold War Kids, Blue October, Arctic Monkeys, Damien Rice, Arcade Fire and Muse, among many others. Check back Sunday for more coverage. And for pictures. Ive got to have SOME fun you know.

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