As many of you know, this was Umphrey’s McGee’s first time performing at Austin City Limits Festival, one of the world’s coolest musical events. While I’ve attended the fest four different times, this was actually the first time I was here for the entire weekend. Located in Zilker Park, about a mile from downtown & the happening South Congress area, ACL is spread out just enough so that stages don’t bleed into one another, yet they are close enough so that it’s no more than a 10 minute walk from one stage to the opposite end of the site – a far cry from the enormous footprint of Lollapalooza (C3’s other main festival). The biggest challenge is getting to and from the fest — 75,000 people all trying to get a cab at once is a mess. So this year my wife & I rented a condo just a 5 minute bike ride away and rode our bikes around Austin the entire weekend. From Thursday to Monday we didn’t use a car once! Thank you Tsunami Cycles for making our stay sustainable.
My day Friday started with a full band (yes all 6 of us together) lunch — funny how rarely it happens where it’s all six of us and just the six of us. After a quick interview for our upcoming AXS TV broadcast, we headed to site in time to hear a pretty sweet band called the Relatives that hit on some R & B and gospel-tinged tunes. I had the honor of then sitting in with my buddies Lance Herbstrong & Ashish “Hash” Vyas from Thievery Corporation on Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It.” Always nice to get warmed up on a tune you know! Walking to our stage from the northwest entrance I stumbled upon LP, whose music & vocals I thoroughly enjoyed. She’s apparently written some popular tunes as well. Good stuff. The War On Drugs also closed out their set with a powerful tune in the mid afternoon heat. High & lonesome vocals + thick chord rock. I liked their sound as well.
Following a quick autograph signing & photo shoot, it was time to get ready to rawk Austin. With only a 60 minute set, it can be challenging to get the complete idea across of what Umphrey’s McGee is about. But I think we covered a pretty good spectrum, hitting on prog-rock tunes like Plunger & 1348, the dancier grooves of Booth Love & Day Nurse and finally closing with the Talking Heads’ Making Flippy Floppy & our dual guitar rock staple, All In Time. No, we didn’t get to hit much expansive improv, but at a festival like this, it’s more about coming out strong and delivering while keeping the energy & excitement up. It was actually a bit of a boon to be playing toward all of the great food stands as hordes of people descended upon them for dinner — directly within earshot and view of our show. Even if they didn’t want Umphrey’s McGee, they got it! Check out the full set on umlive.net.
We spent the rest of the night hangin with friends on site & taking in a little of the Black Keys’ set, which sounded pretty rockin’ to these ears. On Saturday & Sunday, I caught some more great music, including Thundercat, Neil Young (1st time!), Two Door Cinema Club, Die Antwoort (favorite lyric of the weekend — “I like to put my dick in expensive shit” ha! — sorry ladies for the vulgarity there), Iggy & the Stooges with Mike Watt & a bit of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Best shirt I saw this weekend goes to Jade from Michigan, who was showin off his sleeveless “abolish sleavery” shirt. Hilarious. The entire weekend was a great way to cap off the festival season, big thanks to everyone at C3 & ACL for having us. Let’s do it again!