Editor’s note: Porter is the second Friday Night Lights cast member to successfully guest blog, and we’re glad he did. Meanwhile, our fingers are still crossed that we’ll get to read Jesse Plemons’ impressions of the Black Keys. No pressure, Jesse.
When Whitney hit me up with the idea of writing a blog about one of the acts at Austin City Limits, she asked me to send her a list of groups I’d be interested in seeing. I sent her back a list of over twenty. Everyone from Blues Traveler to Beck to Del tha Funky Homosapien to Flyleaf to local favorite Dan Dyer… it was hard to pick just one. It’s taken me until Sunday night to write this because I wanted to give you the best bang for your buck here. I know it’s late, but hopefully it’s worth it…
If any of you have ever lived down south of the Mason-Dixon line, you know that late September still means summer heat. Any music festival that runs during a weekend with temperatures in the 90’s better have a lineup just as hot. If you don’t know Austin, their slogan is "Keep Austin Weird." Austin City Limits’ slogan should be, "Keep ACL Ridiculous!" Using "ridiculous" in the same way some folks use "sick", "hot", "amazing", or "dope" (if you’re nasty).
I saw a ton of groups this weekend and I have strong thoughts on all of them. However, I doubt you have the time to listen to me whine or ramble about all of them, so I just chose two. A little double dipper if you will. Hope you enjoy.
After the jump, Porter breaks down N.E.R.D/Swell Season, and reveals a little more about castmate Aimee Teegarden than she’d probably like him to.
addCredit(“Adrianne Palicki: Michael Muller; N.E.R.D/Glen Hansard: Whitney Pastorek/EW.com”)
Pound for pound, minute for minute, note for note, the best two hours of this festival for me were the ones I spent watching N.E.R.D followed up by the Swell Season on Friday. It was like a perfect Friday night shoved into two hours. You start out at a club, with ALL your friends, get a little silly– or a lot silly, if that’s your game. When the club plays "Closing Time" and tells you, "You don’t gotta go home, but you gotta get the #### outta here," you take off to your friend’s place for a chill afterparty. Someone picks up a guitar and the sing-a-long jamfest follows until you head home. Perfect night. That’s what those two acts were for me. Perfect.
N.E.R.D started 10 minutes late, because they couldn’t find their drummer. I see how this can happen in a crowd of 80,000+, most of them shirtless and in bikinis, partying their heads off. No worries, though– they found him, and proceeded to more than make up for lost time. They destroyed a set that contained all of my favorites: "Lapdance," "She Wants to Move," "Rockstar," "Spaz," and my new favorite, "Everyone Knows." I decided I wanted to get silly and tried to get up into the rafters over the stage to watch, but was turned away at the stairwell backstage. Then my castmate Aimee Teegarden decided to get more than silly, as she jumped up on the opposite side of the stage. She danced with Pharrell, did the RUNNING MAN (Aimee, c’mon now, I know you gots better moves than that!), and out of nowhere, felt Pharrell’s abs when he pulled up his shirt with his teeth.* It was the icing on the cake to an already bonkers show. They were so much better in this element than they were when I saw them earlier this year on [Kanye West's] Glow in the Dark tour. N.E.R.D was in tune with the crowd, made them forget about the heat, had them dancing, moving, jumping. The energy of that show and their control of the crowd was unmatched for the rest of the weekend for me… with the possible exception of Gnarls Barkley late Sunday.
(*Sidenote: When I met Pharrell after the show backstage, he repeatedly asked his friend, "Yo, where are those girls from the stage at?" I like to think that he was looking for Aimee. It makes me giggle. Love ya, T-G.)
After the nonsense that was the N.E.R.D show, I needed to catch my breath. I went directly the next stage over to see the Swell Season, easily my most anticipated performance of the fest.
I was blessed enough to get up on stage to watch this one. I stood there, not fifteen feet from two of my favorite actors– I mean musicians– from last year. (In all seriousness, if you haven’t seen Once, go rent it immediately.) The passion displayed by these two, as well as the band that accompanied them, was palpable. The humility of this band was a stark contrast to the incredible cockiness displayed by N.E.R.D just minutes before. Both Glen Hansard (with his trademark guitar) and Markéta Irglová gave very moving, personal performances. The fever pitch that Hansard’s voice gets to on "When Your Mind’s Made Up" gave me chills just like it does in my car every time it plays on my iPod. Irglová gave the most honest and haunting performance I saw all weekend when she left her piano and, sans instrument, sang "If You Want Me" in front of a crowd that listened intently to every word. They then brought the house down with a cover of Van Morrison’s "Madame George" from the Astral Weeks album. They battled sound issues without even a huff, and gave the crowd everything they could’ve wished for and more.
I was lucky enough to meet Hansard afterwards, and I have to say he is honestly the most humble man I have ever met.
After those two performances, I could’ve packed up and went home happy. I didn’t, but I could’ve. However, in a weekend with standout performances across much of the lineup, I’d be hard pressed to say I saw better than these two.
Thanks for listening.