There is much to be thankful for after day one of Austin City Limits 2009 edition. The Spring-like weather made outdoors at ACL a pleasureable experience as opposed to previous years oppression. Some great performances were turned in by Medeski Martin and Wood, The Knux, Them Crooked Vultures, Kings of Leon and special guest, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.
Medeski Martin and Wood actually played two sets on Friday. The first was part of the breakfast time, KGSR Live series held at Threadgills downtown during the festival. The short time format was not ideal for MMW as they tend improvise and play longer songs. The music was spectacular though, with John Medeski leading tight-knit threesome through two rollicking, jamming songs.If fans were not already awake with excitement at the first day of ACL, they were after MMW’s set.
To kick off Friday, examiner.com began the day at the XBOX360 Stage for a hip-hop act that had some buzz,
The Knux. The Knux are brothers, Kentrell and Alvin Lindsey. Originally from New Orleans, they were displaced by Hurricane Katrina and relocated to Los Angeles. The Knux were also an ideal act to select to start the day. They immeadiately got the crowd jumping, soon getting into their hit from Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantananmo Bay, Cappuccino. (great party song). They was even a covered House of Pain’s Jump Around.
The next set was over at the Livestrong Stage for more Medeski Martin and Wood. They were so incredible at the Threadgills set, Austin Concerts Examiner had to see more. MMW delivered. A joyous set in beautuful weather with the ever expanding Austin Skyline as the backdrop. What interesting about MMW is their stage set-up. The fact that they improvise musically means the band prefers to perform arranged in a U-shape so they can see each other easily and pick up visual cues during the performance. Instrumentally, no other ACL band can compare to the musicianship and jazz improvisation of this New York trio.
Friday’s big buzz was concerning Them Crooked Vultures, a super-group comprised of Dave Grohl (NIrvana), John-Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). Their sold-out show at Stubb’s on Thursday created much interest. Their set was loud and enthusiastic. Grohl looked like he was having a blast. Jones played a delicate song on the keyboards. TCV appropriately rocked the loudest of any band on Friday. Only the sublime set by Clutch (more later) on Sunday rivaled TCV for sheer hard rockness. Time to hit the Itunes store for some Vultures.
Beastie Boys replacement, Yeah Yeah Yeahs played opposite Kings of Leon. To be fair, examiner.com watched the beginning of Karen O and company’s set. . . .with disappointment. After hearing about the great live show YYYs put on at Lollapalooza, high expectations were set and then dashed with Karen O’s screaming read: annoying) vocals. Two songs in, we scooted over to KOL at the Livestrong stage. It appeared as though quite a few fans had the same idea.
Although KOL had more to offer than YYYs did, the set was a bit mellow for a large festival. Nathan Followill seemed to be testing the audience, remarking that even though KOL had their detractors, “We’re not going
anywhere, so you’re gonna have to learn to love us.” Rather than hyping up the crowd with a rocking song, he played a slow ballad. A fan was seen yawning while others talked while KOL played. It seemed like the band was saving themselves for an exceptional encore which ended up being Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam guesting on vocals and banging two tambourines together. The energy really picked up with Vedder onstage, but it was a little too late. The show was nearly over. Take us back to SXSW 2007 where KOL blew Spoon off the stage.