ATOMS FOR PEACE Can you be a fair-weather Radiohead fan and still really like Atoms for Peace? Well, sure. It may be Thom Yorke's side project, but he's got Flea in tow, and something about the combination of Flea's uber-charismatic personality and Thom Yorke's ability to make music out of sounds that really shouldn't work together made for some sweet stage lovin' Sunday evening.
It was refreshing to see Yorke step out of those Radiohead shoes and into something a bit dancier as he played along with Flea's energy. Yorke even busted out some sweet dance moves of his own. Of course they pulled from the Atoms record, but also threw in Radiohead's "Paperbag Writer," and even a bit of music from Yorke's solo stuff. ANGELICA LEICHT
BEAR MOUNTAIN I caught Bear Mountain completely by accident Sunday morning as I was rushing to a stage at the back side of the park, but I'm really glad I did. I have no idea how this band managed to turn 11 a.m. on the last day of ACL into a mega-dance party, but they did. I'm guessing their appeal has something to do with the hearty mix of dance beats they ladle over a kind of indie-rock base, making a pleasant, easy listen that remains entirely danceable. And dance they did. The stage was full of these insanely energetic band members, all jamming out while hopping around like tightly-wound toys.
The audience followed suit, quite a change from what was happening on the rest of the stages in the park during that time. That may be the first time I've ever seen someone breakdance before lunch. That guy, and the rest of the crowd, must have been exhausted well before they could take in enough caffeine to counteract it. ANGELICA LEICHT
PHOENIX As wildly popular as Phoenix is, the members sure are quite the anti-rock-stars onstage. Amid their aggressive, funky dance-rock, the band members were mighty stoic during Sunday afternoon's performance, letting the thump of the music and the hypnotic light show take front and center stage. For whatever reason, it worked well.
The way the music's pulse still couldn't tempt front man Thomas Mars to come alive with the tracks was mesmerizing. But as he opened the first number, "Entertainment," the crowd jumped into hyper-mode, stumbling over the words and dancing along. Mars remained unstirred, though, seemingly content as a vessel for the vocals to wash into the screeching guitars. Every bit of their set, from "S.O.S. In Bel-Air" to "1901," was flawless; nothing was out of place or jarring. The sound and the lights flowed hand in hand, never missing a beat. ANGELICA LEICHT
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LIONEL RICHIE With all due respect to Atoms For Peace, who was certainly loud and kicking at the other end of Zilker Park, I couldn't resist the chance to see Mr. Hello-Is-It-Me-You're-Looking-For to close out my ACL 2013 Weekend 1 experience. The former Commodore began his set with "Just For You" off of his tenth studio album, last year's Tuskegee. Sadly, his amigo Billy Currington wasn't available to join his for the duet, but Richie looked youthful and wide-eyed as he smiled wide for his fans.
"They said it was gonna be a few people here, but they didn't tell me it was gonna be everybody!" he joked as he gazed into the audience. He assured the crowd that yes, he would sing "that song," and every other song they could think of. Richie then jumped on the piano and let the first few chords of "Easy" ring out into the chilly October air. Then there was "Hello," and "Brick House," and "All Night Long," but his encore was perfect. He came back and sang "We Are the World," a song he wrote with his friend Michael Jackson. Now there's the Lionel Richie we were looking for. MARCO TORRES
TORO Y MOI Of all the bands I didn't want to miss at ACL, Toro y Moi was at the top of my list. One friend even went so far as to email me his favorite album from the chillwave artist and producer, which I quickly downloaded to my phone. Listening on the drive from Houston to Austin turned the journey into a surreal, Terrence Malick-esque dreamscape, complete with high-definition visuals and overanalyzation of every detail (what does that off beat synthesizer rhythm even mean?!).
When Toro finally hit the Bud Light stage with a league of hipster amigos, I was pleasantly surprised at how energetic and fresh the music sounded live. Highlights included the tracks "Harm In Change" and "Never Matter" from the album Anything In Return, which was released back in January. MARCO TORRES
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