Austin City Limits Music Festival 2004

DVDnds

Texas Platters

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2004

(Rhino)

Let's return to the days of heat and dust and sweat and huge crowds of half-naked bodies. Those three days from last September in Zilker Park when Austin really did become the Live Music Capital of the World. Distilling the 130 bands and eight stages from last year's ACL Music Festival down to a little more than two hours couldn't have been easy, but this 2-DVD set with 24 songs does a sly job of representing ACL's eclectic mix while also capturing some impressive performances. In near chronological order, the first disc starts out tentative, with unconvincing appearances by the likes of Sloan, Broken Social Scene, and Josh Rouse. The highlights, however, save the day: the sky-shaking Blind Boys of Alabama, the bluest eyes of Sheryl Crow, Ebbot Lundberg of the Soundtrack of Our Lives fighting his way through heat stroke while his band gets psychedelicized, and Howie Day creating a near symphony with just his voice, an acoustic guitar, and an array of foot pedals. The second disc is much stronger, kicking off with the mighty My Morning Jacket, Neville Brothers oozing funk, and Trey Anastasio leading his orchestra through an uplifting guitar romp. It also includes the Drive-by Truckers, Calexico, Pixies, Cake, and Ben Harper. On paper, the mix sounds jarring, but in reality it's surprisingly fluid. One quibble is the scant representation of local artists. Austin is so much more than Bob Schneider and Los Lonely Boys. Overall, though, these DVDs are substantially more convenient than standing in a field in 95-degree heat for three days with 75,000 of your closest friends. Sold separately, the accompanying CD pares the weekend down to 16 tracks, including one by alt.rockers Dashboard Confessional that didn't make the video compilation. With the DVD package priced just a dollar more, the audio-only disc seems extraneous.

***

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