ACL Fest 2011: How sweet it was


Check "done" on the 10th Austin City Limits Music Festival.

This year's three-day orgy of music, weather and chicken cones brought things both rare — rain, Stevie Wonder — and usual — vastly different experiences of the same set — to Zilker Park. Here are the highlights from our team.

Peter Mongillo

• Kanye West. Standout moments included an over-the-top entrance from the center of the crowd in which the rapper rose above Zilker on an elevated platform. A troupe of ballerinas gave the Bud Light stage a touch of Broadway, and supercharged versions of West's older material, including "The Good Life," "Jesus Walks" and "Stronger" were a fine way to end the first day. Set review

• Phosphorescent. The Alabama-via-Brooklyn country rock band led by Matthew Houck, whose understated, weary voice coupled with pedal steel guitar on songs including "Mermaid Parade." Any question that the set would lull the crowd to sleep (or succumb to painful sound bleed from the AMD stage) with too many Neil Young-style ballads was answered with perfect moments of classic rock crescendo from the six-member band.

• Stevie Wonder. Wonder delivered with his hits — "Superstition," "Higher Ground," Living For the City" — and a couple of covers, including the pumped-up opener "How Sweet it Is" and Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel." The latter had the whole place dancing, except the folks driven away by what they said was bad sound in the back. Set review


Parry Gettelman

• The jubilant Preservation Hall Jazz Band/Del McCoury Bandshow that had fans young and old hollering themselves hoarse and beaming around at strangers as though they were long-lost friends.Set review

• Raindrops! When the rain started, you could tell right away who was from Texas — the ones with their hands in the air and wondering smiles on their faces.

• Alison Krauss and Union Station's sublime set, emotionally rich as well as masterful in its musicianship. Set review

• Noelle Scaggs and Michael Fitzpatrick of Fitz and the Tantrums delivering musically while working hard to loosen up the audience and finally prevailing in their determination to instigate a dance party. Set review

• The Lee Boys' funk-soul revival/wild-and-crazy dance party.


Joe Gross

• TV on the Radio playing "Young Liars," a song that can go anywhere, an emotional blowout in the tradition of the MC5's "Black to Comm," Yo La Tengo's "Blue Line Swinger" or U2's "Bad." They reminded that, at their best, they are absolutely America's Radiohead.

 Kurt Vile's three guitar, drums and no bass setup. Miles of hair playing nothing but treble on the Austin Ventures stage, consistently the most sonically underrated place at the festival. Set review

• Hearing the opening notes of My Morning Jacket's inviting-yet-menacing "Victory Dance" streaking over the park at the top of their set. The band sounded phenomenal — a little too phenomenal for a lot of people trying to listen to Stevie Wonder.


Chad Swiatecki

• Stevie Wonder. Hits paraded. Humanity affirmed. Bucket list lightened considerably. Set review

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