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ACL FEST 2004 – Day Three – Part Two

As is the case wih many festival settings, at ACL, many people use banners or balloons to mark their territory in this sprawling field of seven stages and 100,000 people. There are Smiling Face balloons, Texas flags, pretty standard stuff. Except, for what I just saw, which is pure genius. In the middle of the crowd for Spoon, a guy was raising a piece of cardboard to help signal his friends to his whereabouts. His cardboard sign read: “LaFawnduh,” a reference to a cardboard sign in Napoleon Dynamite. It looked exactly like the cardboard sign in the movie (if you don’t know what I’m referring to, why haven’t you seen Napoleon Dynamite yet?).

I encountered this after seeing a show by the real Napoleon Dynamite, Elvis Costello. There was a distinct sense of disconnect for much of Costello’s show, but he really did deliver a nice encore of past hits. Meanwhile, his new songs sound okay, but nothing like “Alison.” Here’s what else my last afternoon has looked like:

Mindy Smith – Beautiful country siren with a Patty Griffin-for-beginners touch. A nice show.

The Roots – I’ve been screaming that the Roots crew should be at ACL Fest since year one. It was a fantastic arrival for them, as this hip-hop collective sounds better live than ever before. Stunning guitar and drum solos got the sun-drenched crowd moving. Plus, MC Blackthought was an amazing presence. A little too much noodling towards the end, but it’s all good. It really is.

North Mississippi All Stars – No thanks. Not my kind of stuff and I gave it a shot, but no such luck. Jam-based grooves that just didn’t stimulate as anything special.

Ben Kweller – I caught the very end of him, and he was good. Nuff said.

Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra – For fans of the Kuti family… I witnessed a few songs from this worldbeat group and I was not disappointed. Horns, percussion, keys. Lots of the above, and the crowd was easily spilling out of the gospel tent venue… Amen.

Drive-By Truckers – The country/rock buzz band was solid. They did it right and are a perfect fit for this crowd and their energy.

Okay, my night – and my weekend – are winding down. My face feels like it can take no more sun. Thankfully, that won’t be a problem for much longer, as the sun sets on ACL Festival…

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