What do you get when you put people, music, and dust together in 108-degree heat? The Austin City Limits Festival. There’s something totally disgusting about black snot after a day of baking in the sun, but I got a free ticket for Sunday (thank you Sabrina!), so I went to see the St. James Band (the fabulous Brad Gilley on drums), Ruthie Foster (clear, soulful voice and strong presence), and The Decemberists.
The Decemberists began just as I finished a strawberry snow cone- perfect timing. From what I can remember, they played The Sporting Life, 16 Military Wives, Youth and Beauty Brigade, Red Right Ankle, and The Chimbley Sweep (not a typo). They had us all wrapped around their maritime-story-telling finger. At one point, lead singer Colin Meloy conducted the entire audience to crouch down and not make a sound. At another, Chris Funk (guitar, mandolin, keyboard) brought out a huge cardboard “whale jaw” – it was like something from a bad elementary school play – that was our signal to make noises like we were being eaten by a whale. I must admit, we did a good job. The Decemberists are worth suffering black snot. You can quote me on that.