Brittanie Shey: Things seem incredibly crowded, and hotter than Houston, if that's even possible. The dust is already flying. Some of us here braved the bro-crowd at the Black Keys (see jump) but some of us, seeing the mile of bodies wobbling before the stage, decided to take in a somewhat smaller band.
We were glad we did. ACL's press info describes The Ettes as "Gossip with the bass turned up," but they're less dance-y and more primal. Singer Coco Hames sounds like Kathleen Hanna with a Southern accent. And while The Black Keys were playing to minions across the green of Zilker Park, The Ettes, who toured with the latter in 2008, tested music from their newest album on a small crowd of happy dancers.
We left the BMI Stage early to head over to catch Beach House, who were already in the midst of a jangly set at the Honda stage. A massive crowd had gathered, which was an impressive sight considering they just played Walter's in April. A large group had also formed to see Band of Heathens, which made getting to Beach House feel like swimming upstream.
But once we got there, things felt all right. Thus is the effect of the dreamy duo from Baltimore. The crowd was easy-going, and the music, for just a few moments, made us feel like we were ending the summer at a rundown bungalow on Montauk instead of a sweaty, dusty park in the middle of Texas.
Highlight of the day? Hearing Girls (whom we've seen before) from the media tent. What are we looking forward to tonight? Spoon, Sonic Youth and the Strokes. It's alliterative!
Craig Hlavaty: The Black Keys, last in Houston a few weeks ago, created a bottleneck in the front of the AMD stage around 4 p.m., with a packed crowd either hunkering down for their set or the Strokes later in the evening. Either way, they had a throng of sweat and skin in front of them.
From what we could tell, the Keys' set was not much different, albeit abbreviated, from their recent appearance opening for Kings of Leon. The first few songs were just Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach working it out until they hit the newer material from this year's Brothers LP.
The set was plagued with sound issues, not the band's fault, that had them sounding tinny and distant. You either heard little or no drums one minute or all guitar. "Next Girl," though, was a face-ripper despite the hellish sound.
The Keys are best served in a smaller setting, so their assault can bounce of the walls and into your body cavity. Out in the middle of a park, amidst an oddly prevalent amount of strollers, we felt too detached from them.
Craig Hlavaty: Cool breezes? No rain? No mud? Are you sure we are at the Austin City Limits Festival, guys?
Our first day at ACL began by taking a ride on the official shuttle buses from Downtown Austin, loaded with tie-dyed hippies and blonde gals drinking melting margaritas. The first thing that hit us as we hit the grounds was a serene cool wind. Sure it's warm out here, it's Texas, but at least our jorts aren't soaked with sweat.
First show today out of the gate for us was Donovan Frankenreiter, with his robust 'stache and peaceful easy feeling lyrics, sort of like a country-fried Jack Johnson. We should have known by the whiff of pot in the crowd and the sandals that something was up.
He was decent, though, spewing organ and twang from the Honda stage.
Those Darlins came up next, and their femme-garage sold us on them right off the bat. Splashes of Ryan Adams and the Ramones, with sweet kiss-off lyrics, were the order of their quick 40-minute set. We missed them when they last came through Houston at Rudyard's. Worth a spin for you folks at home.
Blues Traveler opened at 2 p.m. with "But Anyway," with John Popper laying down the law of harmonics. Their set would see covers of Radiohead ("Creep") and Sublime ("What I Got").
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Phish goes on in five hours or so, and already Zilker Park is teeming with hippies of all stripes. Dreadlocks, preppies, Earth-Kids and Greenpeacers are all around. We plan on seeing what's up with them as they co-headline tonight with the Strokes.
Catch you back in a few hours. Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @hprocksoff.
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