The Austin City Limits Music Festival, coming up on its ninth incarnation this October, has always skewed toward older, adult-contemporary audiences, based on its roots-friendly television namesake. Younger, rowdier bands have made ACL their home, too, but this is the American music fest most likely to host the likes of Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, and Robert Randolph & The Family Band.
Conversely, ACL has relied on the Internet for all its promotions this year so far, getting the word out via e-mail blasts and music blogs in the indie spectrum. The strategy has paid off so far; when the fest announced an online pre-sale of three-day passes, they sold out before bands had been announced.
But last night's lineup pronouncement, which hit fans' e-mail inboxes at midnight central time, was topped by jam-band snoozers Phish, British synth-rockers Muse, and... The Eagles.
"The Eagles?!" I yelled at a bar while checking my cell phone—first after seeing a music blog's Twitter post, then again when I got the official e-mail.
I can't stand The Eagles. Can't tolerate their lyrics. Can't bear their songs. Can't stomach Don Henley's super-smooth voice over super-smooth instrumentation, all filtered through super-smooth production. I know The Eagles rose to radio dominance before bands were more likely to wrap the blues in folk or combine rock with country, and they stood out in their era as a result. But their music doesn't stand the test of time, most obvious when lined up next to genre-blenders like Iron & Wine or Neil Young or even Michael Jackson. Cheesy lyrics; annoying songs.
Rather than spark a reasonable conversation when I heard the news, I grabbed my cell phone and took to Twitter with the following homage to The Big Lebowski: "ACL Fest, get out of my cab."
The ACL Fest, more than ever, is at the mercy of its promotional platform. We, the Internet's masses, are currently pulverizing the ACL Fest 140 characters at a time (and linking to the above video frequently... the Dude doesn't abide by this news).
A few (unedited) selections from Twitter over the past 15 hours:
Eagles and Phish? I'll make sure my walker has new tennis ball for the event. Lame!!! Worth noting: for every three or four negative comments came a happy Eagles response on Twitter. But blogs have been similarly down on the announcement. Blurt-online.com's news post tagged The Eagles' presence with a "WTF," adding, "Welcome to the f___ing Hotel Austin, kids." The Onion coolly called them "monolithic class rockers." Pitchfork Media omitted the band's name from their report.
Does this mean doom for the fest? Doubtful. The second-tier of headliners includes one of The Strokes' few announced tour dates in years, along with amazing live acts like M.I.A., LCD Soundsystem, Sonic Youth, The Flaming Lips, Monsters of Folk, and on and on and on. I'm personally happy with sleeper inclusions like Midlake, Sarah Harmer, and Mayer Hawthorne. And the folks who come for The Eagles and Phish will certainly stay for Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Blues Traveler, and Lucero.
But that doesn't matter for the folks who attach a stigma to The Eagles' privileged fogey-pop and Phish's nation of stereotypically goofy hippies. Their names are at the top of ACL's headliner list, above The Strokes and other modern bands, and fans are responding by putting those bands' names at the top of their complaints—and thanks to Google and Twitter's ability to recognize data trends, those complaints are accumulating loudly. Music promoters would be wise to watch what happens when "viral" promotion turns into a virus.
And, seriously, ACL Fest. The fucking Eagles? Come on. I'm holding out hope that this band gets booked at the last minute.
The eagles make me want to blow my brains out and there is not enough acid in the world to get me to watch phish.
ACL has some real gems this year, but Muse as a co headliner again? snore. The Eagles? mega snore. Phish? *flatlines*
The Smiths almost accepted Coachella's $1 million offer to reform a few years ago. How much do you think ACL spent on The Eagles? #overpaid
So for ACLfest I was hoping for Jay Z. Instead we got The Eagles.
Wonder if Eagles headlining ACL is like when bars play obnoxious music at 1:45 to clear patrons out so staff can get out early
The Eagles and Phish as ACL headliners? Seriously? Saving some money this year? I know. It was book Phish, get the Eagles free with coupon