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Austin City Limits 2011

Austin’s other music fest celebrates its 10th anniversary

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Death From Above 1979

If you’re like me, you were probably wondering why Arcade Fire — whose third LP The Suburbs was the 2010 Album of the Year according to something called “the Grammys” — didn’t play Austin City Limits the same year their album dropped. According to rumors out of last year’s ACL photo pits, the bombastic Canadian band was all set to totally crush Zilker Park, but were thwarted by none other than adult-contemporary curmudgeons, the Eagles. Apparently, the Eagles have a clause in their contract that no other act can perform while they’re gently rocking out on stage. While I’m pretty sure Arcade Fire could handily beat the Eagles in a Scott Pilgrim-style battle of the bands, a contract is a contract, and AF promised to come back next year.

Whether or not that story is factual (but it probably is), it’s true that Arcade Fire returns to ACL this year for the third time, whether Don Henley likes it or not. Unlike some indie bands that seem to get smaller as the venue gets bigger, Arcade Fire feed on crowd energy like some kind of multi-headed, musical beast, unleashing anthem after anthem until your fist just can’t pump anymore. While The Suburbs lets the band show off a more subdued side, classic songs like “Rebellion (Lies),” “Neighborhood #2 (Laïka),” and “No Cars Go” still pack the same punch as when the group still felt like a well-kept secret. Arcade Fire may be as big as the Eagles these days, but Win Butler and Co. deserve their new-found mainstream success. And even the most jaded hipster will get swept up by a crowd of 70,000 festival-goers shouting the chorus to “Wake Up.” 8:30pm Sun, Sept 18, Bud Light stage. — CK



Manu Chao

Through his ’80s band Mano Negra, Manu Chao changed the course for two generations of Latin rock bands. But it was his solo debut, the superb Clandestino (1998), that turned him into the ultimate symbol of the independent Latin alternative spirit.

Manu calls the shots. He records and tours when he feels like it, and when the spirit moves him he produces others (get SMOD and Amadou & Mariam’s Dimanche à Bamako now). A Latin Grammy, two more solo albums, and three live albums later, the French-born mixmaster (who sings in Spanish, French, Catalan, and Portuguese) continues drawing legions of Manu-heads wherever he throws down his legendary, furious, fast-driving ska/reggae/rumba flamenca/punk parties.

But this ACL performance is only a warm-up for the big one. On September 21, in collaboration with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, he’ll offer a free outdoor concert in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona, in protest of SB 1070. “For the past year, we’ve carried the people of Arizona in our hearts as we witnessed them suffer under such ignorant laws,” Chao said in a statement. “We’ll be proud to perform with the community to show that love can conquer hate.”

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