Editor’s note: This post from Gaius concludes our FNL/ACL experiment, and he sends us out in style. Special shout-out to Aimee Teegarden, who turned in a review of N.E.R.D today; sadly, we’ve decided to leave it out because Porter beat her to it. Still, thanks a bunch, Aimee… and everyone who made this dream a reality. We are currently soliciting television casts shooting in Palm Springs, rural Tennessee, and Chicago for the ’09 festival season.
It was a meeting ten years in the making. Gaius Charles. Erykah Badu. I should preface this review with a little backstory: I have been an Erykah Badu fan from the very beginning. Yes, I was on Baduizm back in ’97, before the world really knew this soon-to-be-international sensation. See, “Back in the Day” somewhere around 8th grade I had a huge crush on this girl– let’s call her “Keyshia.” Keyshia was a talented singer who hummed these soulful melodies that always caught my ear. When I finally got up the nerve to ask Keyshia about those tunes she gushed and told me all about her favorite new artist, Ms. Erykah Badu. Well, you know what happened next: Erykah instantly became my favorite artist too. Baduizm turned out to be the keystone that brought my 14-year-old soulstress and me together. But sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. Keyshia ended up getting with a varsity football player when we went to high school, much like Smash Williams (define irony). But on the plus side I ended up becoming an Erykah Badu superfan.
Crazy enough, I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing her perform live. So when I found out she was going to be playing at ACL, I had to be there. And though we have been filming Friday Night Lights in Austin for almost three years, this year was my first year attending. In a word, ACL is MASSIVE. As I entered the main gates I was immediately taken aback by the sea of people, literally thousands and thousands gathered to feast on what Austin does best: live music. Waiting for the concert to begin I ran into Minka Kelly and Jesse Plemmons, who were equally excited to see the show. And then, out of nowhere, a soulful riff pierces the air, and it’s on. A stunning Ms. Badu takes the stage in a smiley face tee and stiletto heels and works the crowd like the veteran she is– and oh yeah, she’s pregnant. No matter, if anything her precious “baby bump” makes her all the more mesmerizing. She proceeds to glide through her repertoire effortlessly, like light changing color in a kaleidoscope. Beginning with a sample off her new album, New Amerykah, she remixes chart-topping favorites like “On and On” and “Apple Tree.” Somewhere in the middle of it all she takes a water break and riffs on the words “s–t” and “damn,” a comic reminder that she is only making it look easy. Erykah wraps it all up with her new song “Soldier,” and stresses the need to stand up in the face of today’s unprecedented world events.
I wish I could conclude by saying that I went backstage and was finally able to meet Erykah. But as I made the attempt to profess my love, birthed in the tragedy of adolescence, the heat finally did get to her and she was being attended to accordingly. It’s ok, though– I had an unforgettable experience and enjoyed the performance to the fullest. Besides, I can always catch her when she hopefully comes back in 2009, right? Ten years in the making– what’s eleven?