Sunday was a crazy day because by then I was exhausted for various reasons, but the “get your money’s worth” voice inside my head spurred me to be at ACL promptly at twelve thirty again. Which, by the way, is no small feat. I rode my bike there and back, which isn’t hard physically, but it is extremely dangerous, especially on the way home. On the ride back at eleven at night, surrounded by drunk tired people, other bicyclists, and unconcerned pedestrians, I felt like I was biking through Mumbai or Mexico City. It was so crowded; bikers were grabbing on the bumpers of cars and coasting, unbeknownst to the car-owners. Biking in itself was a massive logistical step every day, and on the third day, after the final show, I almost had a mental collapse after not finding my bike for twenty five minutes. Riding is tough, but so convenient, and I think I’d do it again next year. Plus, the danger is pretty fun in a “ya-I’m-nineteen-and-do-dumb-things-for-the-adrenaline-rush” kind of way.
The first show I saw was a band called The Head and the Heart, and I had never heard of them. They were from Seattle and had a good amount of eccentric instruments, so they won some points from me there. One area where points accumulate is if during transition periods between songs, the singers or vocalists have something interesting to say, or something funny. Or really something at all. A female singer for The Head and the Heart talked between the songs and was really funny, plus cute, so that added big points. Overall the music was pleasant, upbeat, and there was a lot of weed, so my day started off pretty optimistically.
After The Head and the Heart I did a very cool thing to get a t-shirt. I want to say a “free t-shirt,” but it wasn’t free because I paid for it in labor. It was free though, really. At ACL they had a program where a vending station distributes big green trashbags to anyone who asks for one. Then you fill that bag with beer bottles, soda cans, or anything of that sort. When you fill it all the way to the top (and it’s a big bag), you get a free t-shirt from the vending stand. So I milled around near a concert and collected cans from fans for an hour. It was a great decision cause I still got to hear a band that I somewhat liked, The Toxic Airborne Event, and I got a (free) t-shirt! I also did a little part to green ACL, and moreover I showed my support for a program that promoted greening ACL, which is just as important.
After I got my (free) t-shirt, I went to Chiddy Bang, a band that I have already seen once in concert. Chiddy Bang is a rap duo whom I like, but I’d heard all their stuff so I wasn’t clamoring for great seats or anything. Plus, I was supposed to find Mike at the concert but cell phone service was so bad that I couldn’t find him, so I had to watch the concert alone. About watching concerts alone: it’s alright, but there’s no doubt in my mind watching concerts with your friends is better. So the whole Chiddy show passed without a real memory being formed in my mind of their music, except for one of the two is a world-renowned free-stylist, and–no joke–holds the Guiness World Record for longest free style: 23 hours I think. So, at every concert people yell out things to him and he free-styles about them, which is ballsy and really entertaining.
After Chiddy Bang the craziness ensued, because it was then, at 4:30 that I embarked on my mission to get good seats for the Fleet Foxes show that night and also Arcade Fire. So, as a sacrifice, I went to Broken Social Scene and watched their entire show, moving through the crowd the whole time because Fleet Foxes performed on that stage later. Broken Social Scene also was forgettable, as evidenced by the fact that I remember nothing about the performance. I remember moving forward in the crowd constantly, but I was not alone in this endeavor. I bet Broken Social Scene was thinking “dang this is a lot of people here to see us perform,” but most people were there early because after BSS came Fleet Foxes, and after Fleet Foxes came the holiest of holies: Arcade Fire. After Broken Social Scene I sat down with my friends and waited for an hour, one of the most physically uncomfortable hours of my life, to have good seats for Fleet Foxes.
Fleet Foxes was my favorite music of the weekend. Their stuff was absolutely flawless, and that’s saying a lot considering how many random instruments they utilize. They played a lot of their new stuff, but like Iron and Wine, I like their new stuff more than their old stuff. But, unlike Iron and Wine, I love their old stuff too. Fleet Foxes is a reserved band, definitely no jumping around stage or yelling, but the music they make just sounds so. Dang. Good. The whole band harmonizes on a lot of the choruses and they are all really talented singers, which is a fact that can get lost in their talented instrument-playing. Guitars, harmonicas, saxophones, tambourines, weird things I don’t know, basses, everything. They were emotional and witty, and the band oozed a pretentious self-confidence, which I have to admit I bought. Those guys know they’re good, but that doesn’t stop them from performing like they have something to prove. Their transitions were quick so I got my money’s worth of Fleet Foxes’ music, and I was with a great group at that time, so I was one freaking happy camper.
Speaking of camper, after Fleet Foxes I surged forward and parked my butt on the dry ground in an uncomfortable position for another hour. So by that time I had gotten to Broken Social Scene early, watched their show, moved forward a lot, sat down and waited for Fleet Foxes for an hour, watched Fleet Foxes for an hour, surged forward again, and was now uncomfortably waiting for another hour, to watch Arcade Fire play for an hour and a half. I ran out of water. I had to go to the bathroom. My feet fell asleep. I was starving. All these things are first world problems. Still, they dogged me. And–on top of everything–I have a confessions. A dirty little secret: I don’t really like Arcade Fire. There I said it. I wanted to see them for much the same reason I wanted to see Stevie Wonder: cause I felt like I had to watch them if I had the opportunity.
So I waited for Arcade Fire, and when they came on I was dissapointed. Why? Because they were freaking great. I wanted to dislike them, but they worked their charm on me and performed like animals. SO MUCH ENERGY. It was like they were on cocaine no joke, some of the people hopped for two straight hours. HOPPED. The songs were great, every note was nailed, the lead singer was funny, “Wake Up” was one of the most epic songs I’ve seen performed because of the amount of people watching; it was great. Plus, unlike Friday and Saturday where there were two headliners, and thus a split crowd, Arcade Fire was the only headliner on Sunday. Thousands of people were watching the concert, and most of them were behind me. I was so crowded I couldn’t raise my hands over my head. I didn’t like it, and despite the music working me over, I just couldn’t justify staying. I weasled my way out through the crowd, which took a good fifteen minutes. I stayed at the concert longer than I thought I would. I stayed for fifty minutes, and I had only planned on seeing four or so songs. I was happy that I held out for awhile, happy I heard “Wake Up,” and at the end of the day if I’m no longer enjoying it, why would I stay? I was so happy with my decision, and unlike Brett Favre, I ended at the top. I walked away from ACL immensely happy and satisfied, and really, really ridiculously sunburnt and second-hand high.