ACL Fest 2009: The U18 Report

Next Up blogger Livvy Bennett didn't just enjoy ACL Fest, she sang with Daniel Johnston

Next Up blogger and AfterMath bassist Livvy Bennett performed with Daniel Johnston
Next Up blogger and AfterMath bassist Livvy Bennett performed with Daniel Johnston

Looking at the lineup for ACL Fest this year, I couldn’t help feeling slightly disappointed in the bands playing. There were a few artists I liked, but overall the bill seemed pretty dull. I ended up happily surprised with the music I heard over the weekend. Many of the lesser-known artists ended up being my highlights of ACL.

One band, The Virgins, grabbed my attention right off the bat. Their sound was, to me, is a mixture of Ok Go, Spoon, and MIKA. At first glance they seem to be just another boy band, but their stage presence was so interesting and fresh I couldn’t help but think they have something special. Lead singer Donald Cummings appeared on stage wearing green eye shadow that, because of the rain, gradually ran down his face throughout the show. Their persona left the impression that they’re quirky weird guys, and something about that uniqueness makes one want to know more about them. They were also very happy to be there, exclaiming a few times throughout the show, “Whoa! You guys, it’s so cool to see an audience this big!” Another great show was Mute Math. Mute Math provides sophisticated dance music with a Radiohead-U2 kind of vibe, though with modern twist. All the musicians played their instruments masterfully and with such passion I couldn’t help but dance throughout the whole show. Lead singer Paul Meany sings with a smooth voice contrasting drummer Darren King’s emotional loud beats. A few highlights of the show included Meany doing a handstand on his keyboard and King performing a percussion breakdown by tapping his drum sticks on various microphone stands. A highly entertaining performance, and played beautifully. This year, I had the honor of singing with Daniel Johnston. Daniel played great as usual and performed all his classics while sprinkling some new songs into the set. His back up band, HYMNS, added energy and a new fullness to Johnston’s show. Though I only sang on one song, I feel as if that show is a highlight in my musical career thus far. Needless to say, I was quite starstruck meeting the Austin legend and writer of so many quirky and magnificent songs. I came to find Daniel Johnston was a very nice person and is an inspiration to me now more than ever.

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Austin City Limits Music Festival, U18, Daniel Johnston

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