ACL: day 3

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Day three of ACL began a little late for me, I didn’t arrive until 2:30 and went straight to the press tent. I got to do a short interview with Deck and Branco of Phoenix, two of the nicest individuals I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. They were really cool to talk to and very gracious, dispelling any rumors of the French being stuck up. The full interview will run later in the week. 

Afterwards, I caught a little bit of four different bands. Noah And The Whale sounded good playing “Blue Skies,” one of the more relaxing of their indie-rock staples. I caught a little bit of Paper Diamond’s frantic trap music. The DJ had commanded a fairly large crowd, and they all seemed to be having a good time, but it wasn’t anything too impressive. Grouplove sounded good from far off, but my friends and I decided to head over to the Samsung Galaxy stage for Franz Ferdinand. We got there 15 minutes before show time and pretty much walked up to the front left of the stage, weirdly enough. The festival was crowded, but not as bad as Saturday. 

The crowd filled in by the time Franz Ferdinand took the stage. The band played a tight hour-long set containing hits from four of their albums. They opened with “No You Girls” and stuck in solid renditions of “Do You Want Me” and “The Fallen.” New songs were thrown in from their most recent album Right Words, Right Thouhgs, Right Action, but they played all of the old favorites as well. Later in the set, they had the crowd excited with an extended version of “This Fire” that contained an awesome breakdown reminiscent of LCD Soundystem’s live shows. They went straight into “Take Me Out,” the one song everyone knew and sang along to. The crowd itself was very strange, a lot of children were there, a man crowdsurfing in a full body gorilla suit and a woman who was topless while wearing goggles and some sort of strange mask with spikes covering her face. My guess is she must have been waiting for Eric Church to play the same stage after. 

From there, we went over to see The National, who also drew an impressive crowd of people. The band played a great set in their hour, performing flawlessly.. They played about half of their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me, including a rousing rendition of “Sea of Love.” They went back into their earlier catalog for live classics like “Abel” and “Squalor Victoria,” and spent a lot of time with some of the longer cuts from High Violet like “England” and “Afraid of Everyone.” Lead singer Matt Beringer screamed often and slammed his microphone stand violently against the ground. The band was perfectly in sync, doing some really cool things like when a guitarists grabbed a second guitar and started banging it against the ground during “I Need My Girl.”  The band began to wind down the set with “Fake Empire”, Beringer saying that the song was never more relevant than now. Afterwards, they went into “Mr. November” and Matt ran through the crowd while screaming the refrain, reminding me why The National is probably my favorite band. They closed with “Terrible Love”, capping off an incredible set. 

We then made our way over to Phoenix, who for some reason was put on a smaller stage. The crowd was tightly packed, with one crowd member exclaiming “by the time you’ve mastered ACL logistics, you forget that you like music.” 

After watching Phoenix’s incredible set, I can confidently say that I see absolutely that there is no reason why they weren’t the headliner for tonight instead of Atoms For Peace. The band drew an enormous crowd that included most of the people standing by the Samsung Galaxy stage. They band played for 80 minutes, sticking mostly to their latest album Bankrupt and 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. The crowd went wild anytime something from Wolfgang was played like “Liztomania,” “Lasso,” or “1901,” but I was happiest when they dipped back into their older catalog. They went as far back as 2000’s United with “Too Young” and “If I Ever Feel Better.” I got to see my personal favorite “Long Distance Call.” The sound cut out for a minute during the closing reprise of “Entertainment,” but as Thomas Mars made his way back to the stage from the middle of the crowd, the band was jamming out and it was apparent that Phoenix had just played the best set of the day, if not the entire weekend.