If the first day of Austin City Limits was picture perfect weather-wise, day two started off soggy and ended up soaking concert-goers, turning Zilker Park into a vast mud pit. While the wet weather wasn't a constant, there were times when complete downpours drenched fans. Yet it didn't dampen the attendees spirits, as indicated by the tens of thousands that stayed to see the Dave Matthews Band's first performance at the Austin City Limits Festival.
"What a beautiful day in the neighborhood," Matthews said to the crowd after opening with "Don't Drink the Water" along with a coy smile. "You Might Die Trying," an extended jam that saw Matthews passionately slinging his guitar around his shoulder as long-time collaborator Tim Reynolds led the rest with one of the best electric guitar solos of the evening, was a highlight. Matthews and company gave the crowd a varied set that included a cover of the Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House," along with fan favorites "Ants Marching," "Two Step" and "Why I Am," the second single off of 2009's "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King."
Aside from a few sprinkles here and there, the rain had stopped by the time Dave Matthews Band and other headliner Ghostland Observatory had taken the stage. Dry skies also cooperated during Levon Helm's set. Helm himself was on vocal rest, turning over duties to the rest of his band, with guitarist Larry Campbell taking over on a majority of the leads. And the crowd didn't mind, as they were just happy to have a break in the showers. Highlights included the Band's classic "The Shape I'm In" and the classic country staple "Long Black Veil." Helm also emerged from the drum kit, picking up the mandolin for "Deep Elem Blues."
The real downpours came during both Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver's sets, but didn't deter fans from gathering in masses. If Helm's band approached music on the more traditional side of blues and country, Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver each delivered a more warped side of folk to a much younger crowd. Grizzly Bear dazzled with a long and winding "Southern Point" and a haunting version of "Little Brother" from 2006's "Yellow House." Bon Iver's Justin Vernon played around with distortion during the end of "Creature Fear," remained solemn during "Re: Stacks" and turned "Skinny Love" into a stomping affair with a loud and dominant drum beat.
The rest of Saturday provided the attendees with a wealth of different genre options that served to highlight the diversity of the lineup. In the late afternoon, New Orleans blues pianist Henry Butler led the crowd to through "Iko Iko" and "Let Em Roll" while earlier in the day, Maryland's Cotton Jones treated its audience to a rather laid-back, Byrds-style set of country harmonies on "Blood Red Sentimental Blues." Denver's cabaret rockers Devotchka drew a sizable crowd to the only stage covered by a tent, though by judging from the responses they received during "How It Ends" and a slow, dark version of the Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs" the numbers watching them were due to the music and not the lure of covered space.
Austin City Limits resumes today with more wet weather on the forecast. Pearl Jam are slated to make their festival debut as the only headliner, while the Dead Weather, Arctic Monkeys, Girl Talk and Heartless Bastards are some of the bigger acts for the final day.