The folks over at Austin City Limits must have noticed that all the tickets for this year’s fest were already sold out by time they formally sat down at the headliner brainstorming table.
“Eagles?” one organizer may have quipped.Â
“Yeah, the Eagles!” another may have retorted, with a little too much excitement, making the room uncomfortable for nay-sayers.
Hell, there may have been no nay-sayers. I mean, 100 million people in the world own Eagles’ “Greatest Hits.” They’re safe, everybody knows the songs, and they just happen to be doing some shows this year! Alright!
And they’re also totally polarizing, especially when sharing the marquee with seemingly safe, beloved (beliked?) headliners like Muse, Flaming Lips and, gulp, Phish.
Muse has already headlined a fest this summer — and they’re great, but good for non-fans? So has Flaming Lips, which always does with Flaming Lips always does only this time with the “Dark Side of the Moon” novelty batted about for the year. Phish toured like crazy last year, partly in support of their pretty lame “Joy” set and were Bonnaroo’s babies for eternity. The Strokes have not yet proven themselves worthy of a 2010 return, with no new music for us to hear and the nostalgia of 2002 still not set in our muscles in happy rigor mortis.
Exceptions to the “meh” hue of this palette: while IÂ haven’t seen LCD Soundsystem on this go-’round, word from Coachella is that they’re solid, with a killer record to boot; and M.I.A. promises to be batsh*t bonkers (I look forward to posting the pics from that ish).
But you’re still left with those big names, the ones that aren’t necessarily playing your smaller or secondary markets. You’re left with the Eagles, who to me are aural wallpaper, wallpaper that sings “Hotel California” for the encore.
Is there free pot or something? Are the Eagles supposed to be the prestige, the big reveal — furthermore, shouldn’t people who love the Eagles just get tickets to that show, instead of major festival organizers merely trusting that enough people won’t be pissed off by the choice?
“But,” says my straw man, “what of great album artists like Spoon, Sonic Youth, Monsters of Folk? Sleigh Bells is off the hook, Lucero can jam and Matt & Kim has a girl in it, I think.”
Ugh, says I, why would you go to an expensive festival just see those?
Folks who love music or love drinking or love both go to music festivals. Festivals are crazy, expensive, crowded. It’s hard to see everything you want but they make great stories for when you go home; they’re for the young, and the young at heart (and the lesser-jaded). ACL, hosted in one of the best cities ever to see live music, is like Jazz Fest, often with safer acts, often with alt-country, country, roots and blues music to boot.
ACL is kind of a pet-fest for dad-rock, older white dudes. (It’s OK for me to say that, IÂ have white dudes in my family.) Which is fine and everything except there doesn’t seem to be anything special about this particular festival except in its plainness — and goers should be more demanding of their wildly expensive, tiring weekend events.