In Friday’s Austin360 section in the American-Statesman, our writers took on some of the tough time-conflict calls in the ACL Fest schedule, making the cases for which act to choose. Sunday brings one of the most vexing dilemmas, at the 6 p.m. hour: the Replacements on the Samsung Galaxy stage, or Spoon on the Honda stage?
We asked Dog & Duck Pub manager Hunter Darby, a major-league Replacements fan who also has close ties to Spoon (as a onetime keyboardist and road manager with them), for his thoughts on which choice to make. A short excerpt of his answer appeared in our print edition, but here’s the director’s cut:
“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” The opening line of L.P. Hartley’s novel “The Go-Between” should be heeded by all who might be in the mood for reminiscing at one of these sets or planning to go back and forth between them at ACL. The only two things that are no longer variables since both bands left their small club days behind are two founding original members and the fact that most of the toilets were also unflushable at those venues too, back in the day.
The Mats are coming off of some recent stellar reviews of their live festival shows, and their colorblind method of donning stage attire should hopefully make for a certain level of discernability for those unfortunate to be banished further back into the ACL cornfield to watch television. Gone, however, will be their unpredictable Chitty Chitty Bang Bang dualism of “can they barely keep the car on the road or really make it soar?” uncertainty, which proved at times both brilliant and tragic during their mercurial reign of the bar circuit of the ’80s. Modern teleprompters should erase any of Westerberg’s improvised lyrics or forgotten lines but hopefully not all spontaneity, and by all accounts the only demons being battled these days are ex-wives and bad backs.
Spoon are also coming off some recent stellar reviews of what might be their best album so far and have been swimming like sharks in the big festival genre all over the world for some time now. Rob Pope’s solid bass groove will serve as the best anchor for such large outdoor shows, which tend to swallow up loud guitars. If you still are having a hard time deciding, ask yourself who you would rather have accidentally jump on your foot during the show: a wispy young college student or the late 40s drunk dentist screaming for “Gary’s Got a Boner”?
“Don’t go changing to try and please me, you never let me down before.” The opening line of Billy Joel’s song “Just the Way You Are” should be heeded by all who might be in the mood for having their youth resold to them. The day HE plays ACL, I’ll be cleaning my gutters listening to a James Gang album.