Joe's Road Trip 2011

Road Trip Day 7: My Life is a Country Music Song

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Lynsey Addario / VII for TIME

Coldplay lead singer, Chris Martin, sings to throngs of people as they attend the Austin City Limits music festival in Austin, Texas, Sept. 17, 2011.

Austin, Texas

And here’s the first verse:

I murdered my iphone in a margarita last night

We’d just seen Arcade Fire and I was feelin’ all right

My wife set her traveler where the cup holder had been

Michele Bachmann says I’m-a just payin’ for my sins.

The good news is the Apple store folks replaced the phone today, free of charge (you get one of those per lifetime of the phone, as it happens). The better news is there’s one more day of the Austin City Limits festival. But here’s what we saw yesterday:

Black Dub–I’m s big fan of Daniel Lanois as a producer and performer. He surrounds himself with great musicians, and his latest iteration, Black Dub, is no exception. Trixie Whitley has a great voice and bloodlines–her dad was Chris Whitley–and I was happy whenever she was singing, but when she wasn’t things got a little lugubrious. So we moved on to…

Iron and Wine–Sam Beam is a fine musician from nearby Dripping Springs, Texas. He writes intricate lyrics and backs it with some fascinating performers when he plays live. Yesterday was not an exception, but this is going to be a rant: We were surrounded by nonstop talkers and smokers. Really ticked me off, especially since there’s a drought, a smoking ban and a real chance of more forest fires, even though we had a light rain through the afternoon. ¬†And the talking made it near-impossible to hear the intricacy of the music. I mean, why are these people HERE if not to hear the music? (Well, I guess there are other reasons–but that was a long time ago for me.) In any case, grrr.

Fitz and the Tantrums–were right at the next door stage and they were playing no-brainer music festival music, white soul with a lot of skill and pizzaz. It was a terrific set, and there were a lot of other things we really want to see at the festival yesterday, but we had to get over to downtown Austin for a taping of the Austin City Limits TV show, starring…

Arcade Fire–This is the great band of the past five years, fabulous performers with a style and a sound that owes a bit to Springsteen’s anthems (Bruce loves this group) and a maybe a little to Phil Specter’s Wall of Sound, but is very much their own. Every last moment of the 90 minute set was thrilling, almost breath-taking, as the 8 band members played musical instruments, moving from guitars to keyboards to drums to accordion to strings to xylophone to…an amazing number of other things, just an astonishing display–the sort of show where you say, wait, it’s over already. Hey come back!

Lead singer Win Butler told the crowd that the band was going back to Montreal and hibernation for a time, to work on new stuff. So I’d suggest that you check out this concert when it appears on TV…by the way, the new ACL concert hall/tv studio is one of the best venues for music I’ve ever seen. Just an all-aces experience and I was so excited by it–and by the dinner to follow with the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith and New York Magazine’s John Heilemann and spouses–that I placed my iphone in the cup holder where I’d been keeping it, but as you already know, Victoria had gotten there first with her margarita. Ah, the tiny tragedies of life on the road. Back to real work, tomorrow.

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