Austin City Limits Day Two: Neil Young Carries Jack White Fans Out Of The Blue (And Into The Black)
By Lynne Margolis
(Check back for GRAMMY.com's ongoing Austin City Limits Music Festival coverage, including blogs and artist interviews as part of our GRAMMYs On The Road series.)
Forecasters predicting only a 35 percent chance of rain for Austin, Texas, on Oct. 13 pulled a fast one on those attending day two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival as heavy downpours drenched Zilker Park. But the music went on as many of the 70,000 wet revelers gave up their shoes to ever-expanding mud puddles as they danced to performances by GRAMMY winners the Roots, Jack White and Neil Young, among dozens of other acts.
Day two of the three-day festival started with a surprise appearance by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, who accompanied singer/songwriter Nikki Lane on the intimate BMI stage just hours after the GRAMMY-winning duo closed the festival's first night.
Later, Rufus Wainwright and his seven-piece band performed tracks from his most recent album, Out Of The Game, as well as musical nods to his parents, Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, and his idol, Judy Garland.
"It's a good thing I'm playing big festivals because you gotta sell a lot of records to keep that band going," Wainwright joked earlier. "It's always a shot in the arm to be around a lot of other artists and be part of a tribe of wandering gypsies. It makes you feel young again."
Former Nickel Creek member Chris Thile and his band, the Punch Brothers, took the stage post-downpour for their first ACL appearance. Their set included crowd-pleasing covers of Jimmie Rodgers' "Brakeman's Blues" and Radiohead's "Kid A."
A seasoned road warrior in his own right, Steve Earle has grown to like performing at festivals. "Production has become sophisticated enough that you can pretty much do your show and I learned in my old age to like the days where there's no soundcheck," he said, just before his set.
Philadelphia hip-hop heroes the Roots paid energetic homage to everyone from fellow rappers the Beastie Boys and R&B/soul legend Bo Diddley to Guns N' Roses, performing snippets of GNR's "Sweet Child O' Mine" and Diddley's "Who Do You Love?"
Sadly, Young and White played opposite one another at the same time, but White finished his blue-lighted set early and told fans to catch the rest of Young's incendiary two-hour throw down with Crazy Horse. Along with tracks from their forthcoming new album, Psychedelic Pill (due Oct. 30), including the nostalgic "Born In Ontario" and "Twisted Road," the band delivered iconic songs such as "Powderfinger," "The Needle And The Damage Done" and "Cinnamon Girl." The latter featured Young cranking out another of his ageless guitar solos.
Young kept up his lumbering-bear dance right through "Down By The River" and "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)," leaving listeners with another ACL memory that will endure far longer than the rain and mud.
(Austin-based journalist Lynne Margolis currently contributes to American Songwriter, NPR's Song of the Day and newspapers nationwide, as well as several regional magazines and NPR-affiliate KUT-FM's "Texas Music Matters." A contributing editor to The Ties That Bind: Bruce Springsteen from A To E To Z, she has also previously written for Rollingstone.com and Paste magazine.)