Austin City Limits: Day One

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After flying south with Jakob Dylan (he, sprawled out across two leather seats in first class; me, flanked by two big-boned passengers in coach), I arrived in sunny Austin, TX for day one of Austin City Limits, a 3-day music festival with eight stages, local vendors, makeshift head shops selling custom-made glassware, countless cans of beer, and about a jillion bands.

It was past two o’clock and ninety degrees by the time the shuttle dropped me off at Zilker Park, and the sweet smell of sun-baked (and lighter-lit) grass was high in the air. I could hear the last five minutes of Del the Funky Homosapien as I walked to Patty Griffin’s show at AMD, one of the four main stages. Fans had claimed their area by planting festive flags and were waiting patiently on picnic blankets and lawn chairs for the singer-songwriter. The flags were everywhere. From American to Australian, store-bought or homemade, the cheerful banners represented the various tribes who migrated to Zilker for the weekend. They also functioned as landmarks for fans that had strayed from home base.

While Mars Volta played a show worthy of their headline status, Hot Chip was also a hot ticket. Their set was Revenge of the Nerds: The Musical. Dressed in white coveralls and thick glasses, Alexis Taylor totally owned lead geek status. I’d never heard the electro-poppers before, but I quickly joined the party. Listening to Hot Chip is like going on a Super Mario binge without the guilt of wasting a beautiful day indoors. You find yourself grooving to strange bleeps and clicks except, Luigi and Mario were nowhere in sight. Mushrooms however, were.