Maximum Performance - Archives

2008 Austin City Limits Festival: September 26-28, 2008

Maximum Performance

If you're in a band and weren't invited to play the 2008 Austin City Limits Festival that took place September 26-28 in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, you might be suffering some pretty hurt feelings, considering the eye-popping list that was promised--130 of today's "top indie rock, country, folk, Americana, hip-hop, reggae and bluegrass bands," says the official press release.

And the list of acts playing ACL (which is the festival's abbreviation and something you don't want to tear if you're an athlete) was a mouthwatering proposition for anyone who likes to sit amongst large groups of sweaty, excited people for long periods of time that according to The New York Times averaged 65,000 people per day.

Imagine if you will the chance to visit this eight-stage event and have a potential line-up of acts like this staring you in the face: Foo Fighters, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Beck, Fleet Foxes, David Byrne, the Raconteurs, the Mars Volta, Gnarls Barkley...

If that isn't Xmas in September, you don't believe in Santa Claus!

It leads to a lot of decision making, since until science improves you can't be everywhere at once. So, will it be Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, who played a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" Or John Fogerty, the guy who actually wrote the song and who was playing on an adjacent stage at the same time?

At least when Gillian Welch was kicking out the jams--or whatever Appalachian folk singers kick--she was doing so while Texas metal band Flyleaf were delivering their audience to automatic deafness. Yet can one see Patty Griffin, Iron and Wine, Okkervil River, Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend and Gogol Bordello and hit the Port-O-John in time? Only your bladder knows for sure.

According to reports, Erykah Badu hit the stage 15 minutes late but made up for it with a set that made people forget about time. Manu Chao, the French-Spanish global pop star, was an "unstoppable force," according to the Times, who also called him a "French-Spanish global pop star" just like I did!

This being Austin, Texas, ACL were able to drum up local favorite Roky Erickson for a set, which meant of course that people were treated to an actual living legend as opposed to some guy who hangs out at the local open mics and harasses everyone for beer money. And even legend Alejandro Escovedo showed up since he could walk to work and still promote his new album.

Food vendors vended food and a sense of environmental awareness pervaded the festivities, leaving serial litterbugs clearly chagrined and shunned.

Other acts who converted the convertible included Neko Case, Band of Horses, Blues Traveler, Drive-By Truckers, the Fratellis, M. Ward, Shooter Jennings, Jenny Lewis, and Spiritualized. I'm telling you, if your band wasn't invited, file a petition or fire your management.

Austin City Limits, the award winning concert series program, and one of the few reasons to turn on your television in all kinds of weather, is scheduled to return to PBS for its 34th season this October and will feature several of the guests of this year's festival including Foo Fighters, Gnarls Barkley, Jakob Dylan (who in the spirit of the occasion named his group the Gold Mountain Rebels) and Erykah Badu, as well as returning show favorites My Morning Jacket, R.E.M., Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, John Hiatt and Guy Clark.


Couldn't make it to the Austin City Limits Music Festival this year? Watch archived footage here. (For more info:

View Comments