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Austin City Limits Music Festival DVD Review

Austin City Limits Music Festival

January 10, 2006

Director: Director: Bruce Green, Barry Weisman, ,
Starring: Rosanne Cash, Sloan, Franz Ferdinand, Sheryl Crow, Josh Rouse, Trey Anastasio, Pixies, Calexico, Shelby Lynne, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, ,

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DVD Review

Austin City Limits has been a staple on public television for several decades. It has always provided a venue for musical acts from all over the world and in all kinds of genres. Known early on for championing country, blues and rockabilly, the show has branched out considerably in recent years but its presentation has remained faithful to its roots. The acts are always presented in a live setting in an attempt to convey to the viewing audience that intimate connection between the audience and the musicians.

This 2-DVD set features highlights from the third annual three-day music festival recorded in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas in September of 2004. Showcased are a diverse number of acts that include the country music stylings of Rosanne Cash and venerable Canadian alternative rockers, Sloan. They dig into their back catalogue with “I Am the Cancer,” slowed down because of the hot weather (especially tough on Canucks used to cooler climates) and this creates a quieter, more introspective take on the song.

Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand also comment on the heat but still pull off a rousing version of “Darts of Pleasure” with a climatic finish to the song and their set. Sheryl Crow introduces “Light in Your Eyes” by talking about how it was inspired by the death of George Harrison and the beginning of the second Persian Gulf War. It is a catchy song about living every day to the fullest.

The Neville Brothers provide some of their trademark down home funk with a groovin’ rendition of “Streets are Callin’” that also includes a good dose of jazz into the mix. In contrast, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio proves that he is a technically proficient musician but his song comes off as self-indulgent and lacking any of the soul or warmth that the Neville Brothers naturally exude.

The recently reunited Pixies perform a solid version of “Debaser” and sound as good as if they had never broken up. Calexico perform a superb cover of “Alone Again Or,” a song made popular by the Damned. Their version is insanely catchy and evokes lazy, sunny afternoons. This is one of the best tracks on the entire set.

The occasional celebrity shows up to introduce an act: Perry Farrell welcomes Jack Johnson and Lance Armstrong introduces Ben Harper who delivers a soulful performance of “Brown Eyed Blues” that is heartfelt and a fantastic way to end this 2-DVD set.

Special Features:

Each disc features a photo gallery of the acts that perform on this set.

Also available is a CD that collects some of the tracks on the DVDs with a bonus song by Dashboard Confessional that is not included on the set.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 78%

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