ACL Capsule Reviews: Young the Giant, Tyler Morris & The Hearts of Worship, Alexander, Daniel Lanois' Black Dub and Iron & Wine

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It's tough to complain too much about the sporadic rain that's literally watering down the second afternoon of the 2011 Austin City Limits Music Festival. Texas needs to drink, y'all. 

No, it's not all bad. Another upside: The wet ground makes you feel like less of a jerk for sparking up. So, hey, smoke up, Johnny!

The bigger downsides, however, prevail -- especially when the lineup's kind of in a lull (snore ya later, Iron & Wine, Alison Krauss, Alexander, etc.) and the biggest cheers appear to be reserved for the Texas Longhorn stampede over the UCLA Bruins watching party over at the sports tent.

Here's hoping things brighten up in the near future, weather- and fun-wise.

Young the Giant
2 p.m., AMD Stage

Despite only getting around to dropping the physical copies of their first-full length this past January, the California-based Young the Giant has been around since 2004. This afternoon's live show -- one of this wet afternoon's few highlights -- showed their experience well. Frontman Sameer Gadhia crooned and brooded like a pro, careening forward with each note sung, added some oomph the the band's already driving anthems. And the anthems sure hit: Both the band and crowd seemed to got lost in the music simultaneously. As the set continued the two only further committed themselves to their shared cause; when the band beckoned its audience to clap along with its monster, breakthrough single, "My Body," the crowd did so enthusiastically, a sea of arms eagerly reaching upward at the idea. The massive audience approved of it all. And bassist Payan Doostzadeh didn't seem to min d the pouring rain that greeted his band's performance. "It was epic," he told DC9 after the set. "When it's just raining, it's hard to get a lot of energy going. But when it's pouring, it's just, like, fuck it, and everyone goes crazy."

Tyler Morris & The Hearts of Worship
2:30 p.m., Vista Equity Stage

Ever stumble on one of those late-night sermons? The ones with singing? This was kind of like that, only with some call-and-response dancing and a better backing funk band employed to liven up the gospel fare. Mostly, though, the crowd was just curious lookers-on trying to find a little life in the otherwise meager offerings about to commence. Few of these voyeurs found too much to keep them sticking around for long. The odds of them finding another act with 12 backing singers seemed unlikely, but no matter; few wanted the message Morris was slinging and Morris himself only appeared so enthused about his set to begin with.

Alexander
3 p.m., Google+ Stage
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros frontman Alex Ebert, who fronted Ima Robot before that, has a new project, this one named for himself -- formal-first-name-only-style. It was everything you'd expect it to be and less -- a bunch of hippie bullshit, backed by more shiny, happy feelings, and during a rain shower no less. No thanks. Also: Put some damn shoes on, or you're gonna catch a cold. 

Daniel Lanois' Black Dub
3:15 p.m., Austin Ventures Stage

Musicianship with a capital M from a dude who has produced a couple of people you may have heard of -- U2, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Dashboard Confessional, no big deal. The set was without many hooks or, really, all that much aimed at luring audiences in. Mostly, this was a set for people in the know. It felt that way -- a little cold -- but it definitely impressed. Guitar tones, impressive guest singers, talented backing players -- it was all there, if you wanted it. Some did, some didn't. Those who did seemed pleased.

Iron & Wine
4 p.m., AMD Stage

A rather clean-cut Samuel Beam -- beard notwithstanding -- took the stage when the rain at Zilker Park was feeling the worst, and his downtrodden material didn't help matters. It was like Ray LaMontagne's Friday set -- tasteful and nice, but a little boring. Where's the fun, y'all? Oh, it's tonight: Cut Copy, Chromeo, TV On The Radio, Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Del McCoury, Cee Lo, Stevie Wonder, My Morning Jacket and so on. Party on, dudes.

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