Will you see us in the park? Fuck no, but you might see us at the some of the afterparties. *cough* We're going soft goth vampiric for the weekend -- which is to say, we won't be out before dark. At all.
That being said, here's a handy guide with our (brief) unimpeachable opinions:
First of all, if you're getting to the park early tomorrow, check out one of the very first sets -- at 11:15 am, no less! -- from the adorable little jammy pop/emo band Bojones. Try not to be intimidated by the fact that they're like, 16 or something. RIYL Ben Kweller, Dashboard Confessional, Bright Eyes.
The Palm School Choir is one of Austin's best hidden secrets. These kids ROCK.
(Oh lordy, I CANNOT do the links for this now, please forgive me. I'll add 'em later. We wrote this really quickly, so...)
We think Del Castillo is totally fruity, but they're amazing to watch. This is performance with a capital P. Blues-influenced rock en Espanol featuring flagrant displays of machismo, Steven Tyler-style.
Asleep at the Wheel do the best Bob Wills covers ever. This is country, y'all.
Tristain Pettyman isn't your average delicate singer/songwritrix. She's got bite.
Okkervil River are among Austin's current brightest starlets. Prog-rock, country, emo, and blues in a blender...with a horn section, and possibly an accordion (did they get someone to sub for the Shearwater-touring Jonathan Meiburg? Let us know!)
When they can hold it together, The Dears are amazing. Think Morrissey / The Smiths ... only without the pomp, circumstance, and bouquets of gladiolii. The new record is pretty darn awesome; Murray Lightbourne's voice is really fucking sexy.
Some trendy band the kids love that's a mishmash of influences and may directly be responsible for an entire oft-imitated genre of indie rock ... or something? Hello, Wolf Parade.
Cat Power equals sultry vocals and notorious stage fright. Could be wonderful, or a total disaster. Accompanied by The Memphis Rhythm Band.
Hey kids, do you like your post-punk poppy? And a smidge political, but not annoyingly so? You're so set with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, then. TLRX have one of the most engaging shows in indie rock. If Ted hasn't been pushing his voice to hard, this will be great. Give our love to the band -- this is perhaps one of the only acts we're bummed to be missing.
Wicked sexy. Boy/girl vocals and catchy, smart pop songs about sex and death. Stars. Um, we like 'em!
Nickel Creek's breaking up, so catch them NOW. Bluegrass-tinged, earnest pop. Lovely.
Los Lonely Boys are the ultimate local boys done good. Fun, pretty blues rock (sometimes en Espanol) from San Angelo.
John Mayer is NOT Jessica Simpson's boyfriend anymore, apparently.
FRIDAY MISSES: The one-two-three punch of headliners The Tragically Hip, Sparklehorse, and Ray Lamontagne. That's the problem with festivals sometimes: washed up salwarts and that "sensitive" singer/songwriter who came out of NOWHERE are a big deal. Whatevs. Gnarls Barkley was interesting for about fifteen minutes in April. Stupid costumes abound. If Guster still has that guy who plays the bongos, then they're still the worst band ever. The Brazillian Girls are supposedly more interesting on their latest album, but we're still unimpressed.
NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION: Van Morrison.
Amazing pop songs from jaded, jaded men -- welcome to
The Long Winters. Very Harry Nilsson / very (late) Beach Boys with heavy early 90s Britpop influence.
If you grew up on the Cure, Joy Division / New Order, and post punk like we did, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness probably work for you. Paul Barker (Ministry) produced their debut record. Poised for stardom in a big way.
TV on the Radio offer best of Motown / Philly filtered through indie rock. Occasionally cold and angular with doo-wop breakdowns. (GodDAMN that cover of the Pixies' Mr. Grieves...!) If Katrina Ford is on the road with them, be prepared for some of the most powerful vocals ever.
What Made Milwaukee Famous are the best little bar band out of Austin, and they're going to be famous. See them while they're still accessible. This is the "third coast" sound at its best -- not Cali-pop, not NYC angular, not Nashville twang. And yet, somehow, it's all that and more -- anchored by Michael's gorgeous voice.
Explosions in the Sky are Austin scene journeymen who make beautiful instrumental landscapes. Be ready for a wall of sound that is sort of like a pretty cloud. A really LOUD, pretty cloud. This is not as boring/lame as it sounds. They provided the score for Friday Night Lights (the movie, not the TV show). Their first record was released on September 11, 2001, and that's sort of been their legacy.
Phoenix and Nada Surf are both HUGE in France. Earnest, sensible, catchy and inoffensive pop. Totally likable with great live shows. You'll be charmed.
Calexico are from Tucson, and they sound like the desert. Think Enio Morricone: dark, cinematic, but still sort of ... well ... country.
Extremely funky experimental grooves for shaking one's posterior. Oh, Ghostland Observatory! All analog, all the time. These guys don't let up ... ever.
The Secret Machines are Texpats who currently live in NYC. Kind of prog-rock, kind of glam, and as Carson Kressley would say, "very downtown metrosexual."
Centro-matic offer inoffensive (in the best way possible) alt-country played by some really great local guys. Not terribly inventive or even all that interesting, but they're pleasant. Also in possession of a large, rabid fanbase, so be prepared for that.
Ben Kweller was once in a band from Dallas called Radish when he was like, 16 -- and they totally got worked over by the major labels. Now he's got a piano-pop solo career and a steadfast fan base. Sometimes works with Ben Folds and Ben Lee in The Bens, so that should give you a good idea of what he's going for.
The Shins -- huh, I think they did the Garden State soundtrack. Or something like that. I've also heard they might change your life.
SATURDAY MISSES: Aimee Mann's oeuvre is getting boring. Is it just me, or is she re-hashing the same five melodies? Iron and Wine is pretty, but the last time Cindy saw them, she fell asleep. May be good if you're exhausted from partying non-stop. We don't like The Raconteurs because their sound is lazy and messy, but they still have Jack White (White Stripes). WHO IS HOT. However, they also have the loathsome Brendan Benson. WHO IS NOT.
Needs no introduction: Willie Nelson, Massive Attack
The Black Angels bring the dirty, dirty blues rock that isn't at all Southern...even though they're local. Another one poised to break out in a big way, they put on a hell of a live show.
Husky Rescue is one of those bands Cindy's pretty sure she liked before anyone except maybe some random Norwegians and the people at the BBC. Delicate, ornate electronic Scando-pop that's perfect for a Sunday afternoon, really.
The New Pornographers: Unhinged pop from the kings and queens of unhinged pop. Synergistic magic and an incendiary live show that's got one foot in the 70's variety show tradition, and the other in THE FUTURE where pop songs eat your brain.
The Stills are Montreal's finest, via NYC and back again -- think Neil Young meets The Velvets. Loose, jangly, and melancholy. We're STOKED to finally see them live.
SUNDAY MISSES: Anathallo make Sufjan Stevens-esque collective nerd rock for musical theater geeks. I still kind of find the conceit of their latest album vaguely offensive in an "Oh! The curiosity of the Orient!" kind of way. People like Jose Gonzales, mostly because he did a blissed out cover of The Knife's "Heartbeats." We think he's great in a Nick Drake kind of way, but perhaps not so thrilling live. Chilled-out naptime? Speaking of, just take your coffee break during Rocky Votolato. Yet another singer/songwriter type who's kind of indistinguishable from all the other singer/songwriter types at the festival. Son Volt are STILL TOGETHER? Hasn't someone killed alt.country yet? And if we hear that KT Tunstall song ONE MORE TIME, someone's gonna get hurt. Seriously.
NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Flaming Lips
Godspeed, Ann Richards. We'll miss you. Thanks for showing us how to be tough and sassy Texas ladies.