Neil Young and Crazy Horse vied with blues torchbearer and Third Man empire king Jack White to close out a wet & muddy Day 2 at Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park in Austin on Saturday. The day, which was peppered by intermittent rainstorms and thick humidity, by the Shins, Punch Brothers, Band of Skulls, the Roots and Jack White.
A full day of outstanding performances began under murky skies as Zola Jesus, Rufus Wainwright (sporting a Steinway and a striped suit while imploring fans to vote for Obama for the sake of women's rights) and Metric played their hearts out to the sold-out capacity crowd of 75,000. It felt as if the last gasps of a Summer that had outstayed its welcome were channeling through the early-day performers, who were clearly in high spirits as they made it through their sets prior to the arrival of the inevitable oncoming rain.
Just as spectacular newcomer Michael Kiwanuka kicked off his 4:30 set at the Austin Ventures stage, the skies opened and crowds went running for cover, while trash bags and umbrellas were lifted to shield braver musical souls against the elements. A break in the weather allowed the Punch Brothers to bring their mandolin-infused emo-folk jams to captivated fans and those emerging from the shelters of venue tents and trees. Across the way, violin loop-fusion prodigy Kishi Bashi delivered an impassioned & high-spirited performance that demands further investigation after the festival-buffet ride.
The Roots, festival veterans and stylistic black belts, rolled out a set that defied the return of the downpours with a wildly celebrated cover of Beastie Boys' "Paul Revere" to start.
Shortly after, the mud as unavoidable as we made our way to Gotye at the Barton Springs stage. Opening with "Eyes Wide Open," the Australian sensation led casual fans through a hefty sampling of his lesser-known minimalist compositions before the inevitable payoff of the smash hit Kimbra-guested "Somebody That I Used To Know".
Living legend and veteran rocker Neil Young took to the stage with his band Crazy Horse, gratuitously jamming with inspired passion through a dozen-song mix of classics and electrifying new material.
Dressed in a T-shirt and ragged jeans, Young opened with a ten-minute magnetic meander through “Love and Only Love,” leading into the Civil War death jam “Powderfinger” before stoking the blazing fires of crowd enthusiasm with the acoustic “The Needle and the Damage Done,” a gorgeously careening “Cinnamon Girl” and the man's cornerstone hit “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black).”
Wtch Neil & friends play "Cinnamon Girl":
As Young defied the rumors of diminishing performance with age at the Bud Light stage, across the park guitar hero Jack White and his all-female band The Peacocks delivered a saucy yet oddly obligatory set that ended 15 minutes shy of the 90-minute allotment. With minimal conversation, White tore through fan favorites "Top Yourself," 'Love Interruption," "Hardest Button To Button" and more, before finishing the night with an earnest, "God bless Neil Young."
On to Day 3! See you in the pit for the Red Hot Chili Peppers at ACL!
Photos: Johnny Firecloud & Shane Hirschman