Night Three of Austin City Limits '11: If You're Gonna Go Out, You Better Go Out With a Bang.
|Arcade Fire played a familiar set to end Austin City Limits 2011. But it was still thrilling.|
In fact, most of the stage performers book for the final sets of ACl '11 seemed to downright enjoy the circumstances in which they were playing -- none more so than AWOLNATION frontman Aaron Bruno, who quite literally crowd-surfed when someone handed him a surfboard to match his Hawaiian shirt. Miraculously, he somehow completed a lap above the crowd, maintaining his balance on the board before being returned to the stage.
It was just one of many impressive feats that closed out the 2011 Zilker Park festivities.
|Ryan Bingham and his band on the AMD Stage.|
Indeed. And Bignham's set, which wasn't scared to lean too heavily on his fantastic 2007 debut, Mescalito, seemed aimed specifically at this set, begging its audience to stomp their boots and sing along. They did. Happily. Euphorically.
|Death From Above 1979's Sebastien Grainger|
|Death From Above 1979's Jesse F. Keeler|
Very few of the next round of performers faced that kind of hurdle: On the Austin Ventures stage, Gomez performed to a large crowd of die-hards; on the BMI stage, We Are Augustines revved up a small, but passionate crowd with their punk-leaning rock; and, on the Bud Light stage, Fleet Foxes would've surely pleased the flannel-wearing set, were it cool enough for such dress. It wasn't, but the crowd seemed pleased nonetheless. To Fleet Foxes' credit, their folk set wasn't nearly the downer that so many other folkies at this year's fest happily offered; the band seemed to up their game in response to the large crowd sprawled out before them. That crowd, Fleet Foxes fans or not, appeared receptive to the offerings.
But it was clear that most were simply setting up for the night and weekend's finale from Arcade Fire. The Montreal band with Texas ties (Win and Will Butler were born and raised in The Woodlands and wrote their new album, The Suburbs, as an awkward ode of sorts to their upbringing) seemed in fine form, excited to be in Austin.
"We love this town," Win Butler exclaimed at the set's start. "We begged to play this festival."
Later, his Texas roots again showed as he mentioned the droughts plaguing the state: "I don't know if we've ever prayed for rain before at a festival," he said, laughing, " but we are this time."
With less vocal prowess than normally showcased -- but with sufficiently more swagger -- the exuberant Butler led his band through an inspired set filled with special treats ("Speaking in Tongues") and familiar favorites ("Wake Up").
A fine ending to an up-and-down weekend, for sure.
For once, ACL seems to have learned the lesson: Always end on a high note.