ACL Night Two (With Pics!): The Calm of Stevie Wonder Meets The Storm of My Morning Jacket

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Pete Freedman
TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe, possibly among those disappointed in what would later happen with Stevie Wonder's set.
Kind of an awkward second night at the 2011 Austin City Limits Music last night. The worst part: It could've been great. Alas, in the end, not so much. But, sure enough, it started pretty well: Exciting offerings from Cee-Lo Green and Cut Copy bled into anticipated performances from Chromeo, Court Yard Hounds, Preservation Hall & The Del McCoury Band and TV on the Radio.

TV on the Radio was especially in phenomenal form, serving as fine set-up for the would-be greatness that was expected to shortly follow their own funked-up indie party jams.

Unfortunately, Stevie Wonder's set largely came off like trying to hold a conversation on a cell phone in a loud, crowded room.

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Pete Freedman
TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone.
In other words: It was quiet. Incredibly so, actually -- about half the volume of Kanye West's set-closing performance on the same Bud Light stage the night before. The back speakers were barely on, it seemed.

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Pete Freedman
Kyp Malone
The crowd tried not to notice as much; their response to Wonder's opening "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" performance and his not-long-after cover offering of Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" drew enthusiastic responses from the crowds up front.

By the back of the crowd -- which started off similar in size to that of West's -- it was a different, quite-muted story, and one made only worse by the fact that, on the opposite end of Zilker Park, My Morning Jacket was blaring at top volume. By the time My Morning Jacket had launched into Circuital lead single "Holding On To Black Metal," the crowd took the obvious hint: It was over at the AMD stage where the party was truly at.

It wasn't a mass exodus that followed, but it wasn't a small one either. It was large enough, if nothing else, that the few people trying to walk up late to Stevie Wonder's couldn't ignore the bad signs laid out before them.

"Oh, man," one exhausted-looking patron remarked. "This can't be a good thing."

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Pete Freedman
TV on the Radio again.
It wasn't; at that very moment, Wonder, who too appeared frustrated with the sound and the crowd's lack of extreme reaction, was engaged in a particularly bare-bones jazzy portion of his set. It was a bad combination.

Meanwhile, at the AMD stage, My Morning Jacket looked -- and sounded -- like the real heroes.

After their set ended, Wonder's seemed to pick up somewhat with "For Once In My Life," the kickoff to an impressive end-of-set greatest hits run. But, by then, the damaged had been done.

Pete Freedman
TV on the Radio, one last time.
A sign that ACL's older demographic-aimed features ways are becoming a thing of the past? Maybe not, but perhaps a sign that they should be.

Sets like Wonder's, if they're going to succeed at all, certainly won't have much luck of faring well if they're going to be treated like his set was last night.

Sets like My Morning Jacket's on the other hand aren't likely to fail. Maybe ever.

Lesson learned, ACL.

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Pete Freedman
Stevie!

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Pete Freedman
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Pete Freedman
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Pete Freedman
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Pete Freedman

Pete Freedman

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Pete Freedman
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Pete Freedman
Zilker Park from across the river.

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3 comments
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Stevie
Stevie

Did Stevie even realize they were all leaving?  Isn't he blind?

ChrisU
ChrisU

he's blind but he ain't stupid...never been to ACL but-it's okay to have simultaneous sets , they shouldn't be set up so they are competing against each other. 

sorta ghey
sorta ghey

not unlike the grammy's a coupla years back. perhaps the most disrespected living musical legend.

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