Online battle of the bands to determine spot at ACL festival

Sound and the Jury (S&J), a virtual battle of the bands, is returning for a third year, offering one lucky band the opportunity to perform on the Dell Stage at this year’s Austin City Limits Festival (ACL) in early October. Bands of all genres will have a chance to upload their music, have their fans vote and try and earn a spot on the stage alongside the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Sonic Youth, Phoenix, Mos Def and Passion Pit. Last year’s winner, The Steps, released and album this year and went on tour in support of it. ACL takes place October 2-4 in Austin, Texas.

Think your band has what it takes? Here are the official rules, and good luck!

How It Works
Round One is live now and bands can upload their music at The Dell Lounge to enter the competition. To stay in the game, bands must generate as many votes as possible to land them in the Top 100 by August 28 and then move on to the next round. From there, a combination of industry judges and fan-voting will narrow down the competition to just five finalists who will perform for a live audience in Austin at Antone’s on September 30. At the end of the multi-round, two-month campaign, one lucky and worthy band will earn a prize spot on the Dell Stage at the ACL Festival.

What’s at Stake
Each of the five finalists will receive $1,500 and a trip to Austin. The winning band will be listed as part of the official lineup and receive an opening slot on the Dell Stage at the ACL Festival. As an official ACL artist, the winner will get artist passes for the entire weekend with access to catering, the artist lounge, and everywhere else bands get to go! The winning band will also receive promotion on delllounge.com, a 15″ Dell Studio laptop, weekend hotel accommodations in Austin, and tickets for some friends the day of show.

  

Lollapalooza 2009, Sunday recap: Spending warm summer days indoors

All right, we didn’t actually spend the day indoors, but we hid in the shade as much as possible, because, well, it was freaking hot today. This led to one of us staying up north (he had other plans, which you’ll read about later) and one of us staying south. Who got the better end of the deal? Let’s just agree to disagree, shall we?

Ra Ra Riot, Chicago 2016 stage
Eldred: These guys sa sa sucked. Okay, not really, but they were ba ba boring. And despite the fact that I found their cellist incredibly hot (wow, I never thought I’d say that) I found my head even hotter, so I headed for the shade.

Bat for Lashes, Vitaminwater stage
Eldred: I’m always hesitant to give bands who primarily play slow-to-mid-tempo music a chance at festivals. I usually don’t have the patience for it when I’m melting away in the sun. However, Bat for Lashes proved to be the exception. The beautiful Natasha Khan (who is Bat for Lashes in the studio) came out in a sequined jumpsuit, and with a powerful bellow held the audience captive while she also played piano, the autoharp and what I think was an accordion. Pretty amazing stuff, made even more amazing by the gale-force wind that nearly destroyed the banners surrounding the stage.

Portugal, The Man, Playstation stage
Medsker: I will concede that I came very late into their set in order to find a good spot to watch the Kaiser Chiefs, but I hoped that some good grooves would come my way. All I remember is some drawn-out, “Black Magic Woman” type of jam session, and little else. Hooks, apparently, are not their strong suit.

Airborne Toxic Event, Chicago 2016 stage
Eldred: I really didn’t make an active choice to see these guys. I more or less collapsed in the shade, and they happened to be playing in the background. I’m more or less indifferentl to them. Sure, their single “Sometime Around Midnight” is a good tune, but I really couldn’t care less about seeing them. I was jealous of my cohorts who made the trip across the park to see the Kaiser Chiefs. Still, I did get to hear the ATE’s unlikely cover of Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses” (the song that Buffalo Bill dances to in “Silence of the Lambs”), which was actually pretty good and went over great with their fans. I might not like their tunes, but they definitely know how to entertain a crowd.

Kaiser Chiefs, Budweiser stage
Medsker: I was concerned about how the Chiefs would be once I heard that singer Ricky Wilson broke a rib during one of the band’s shows in New York opening for Green Day. I should have known better. They absolutely killed, opening with “Never Miss a Beat” and scarcely letting up from there. Ricky was even diving into the crowd and climbing the speakers. I wonder, though, if there will be any fallout from Ricky saying, “Can we get these people 20,000 beers?” The crowd roars, and then he says, “But no Bud, though.” (Look at which stage they played.) I saw Guster pull a stunt like that at a show. They wound up not getting paid. Sponsorship-bashing issues aside, the Kaiser Chiefs made the most of the last date on their US tour. Please come back soon, boys. Eldred, for one, wants to see what he missed out on.

Dan Deacon, Vitaminwater stage
Eldred: Praise Dan Deacon, that crazy electronic music-playing bear of a man. Sure, he may have taken a bit too much time getting the sound just right, but the payoff was more than enough. Joined by close to 20 people (including a marching band), Deacon not only played music, but the audience, guiding them to create a stage in the lawn for someone to jump down and conduct the crowd, culminated in an ungodly barrage of plastic bottles flying into the air. Pure madness and pure ecstasy. Dan Deacon made the heat go away with the power of his good vibes.

The Hood Internet, Perry’s
Medsker: This pair of Chicago DJs were spinning some crazy mash-ups from the word go. Someone was rapping over “Shut Up and Let Me Go,” while Rivers Cuomo was singing “Buddy Holly” over a monster dance beat. I also heard bits of Walter Meego (another Chicago band, which makes me suspect they know each other), New Order, Mylo, that birthday texting song, and, of course, Michael Jackson. And thank goodness the people by one of the drink stations were giving away bottles of water. After the Kaiser Chiefs, I needed about a gallon.

Neko Case, Budweiser stage
Medsker: Neko has one of those sing-me-the-phone-book voices, but this setting seriously tested my patience. She and her band sounded fine (once they took care of a feedback problem), but as Neko herself admitted, she was playing a nighttime set during a daytime show. She was grateful for the “frisky” people up front. Sadly, I was not one of them. Two guys in front of me gave me the biggest laugh of the day when they waited for Neko to start, heard three notes of her first song, and walked away shaking their heads.

Shortly after this, I called it a day, but I assure you that I have my reasons. One of my all-time favorite bands is playing on the north side of town, and they don’t play here much. My apologies to the Killers and Jane’s Addiction, who will surely put on great shows. Bonus coverage to follow…

Passion Pit, Citi stage
Eldred: Every year the Citi stage seems to be the home of an act that could easily pack one of the larger stages. Last year it was Girl Talk, and this year it was Passion Pit. (Ed. note: Whither Peter Bjorn and John?) People were packed tight on the concrete to see the band perform “Sleepyhead” and other highlights from the debut LP. Well, maybe “other highlights” is a bit of a stretch, since a good portion of the crowd hightailed it after the group belted out their signature tune. Passion Pit didn’t seem to be bothered by the the fleeing masses or the heat, but the latter sure got to me. I caved and went back to the hotel, Snoop Dog be dammed.

The Killers, Chicago 2016
Eldred: Refreshed after a lenghty break in my a/c blasted room, I trekked back for the final act of the festival. Given the choice between the Killers and Jane’s Addiction, I chose the Killers, and not just because they were the closest to my hotel (okay, that may have had something to do with it). There was nothing particularly wrong with the Killers’ performance, but there was nothing really amazing about it, either. I don’t know, maybe seeing Depeche Mode and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs the two nights before set my expectations too high. Everyone seemed to be having a good time though, especially Brandon Flowers, who was eating up the massive crowd (which he claimed was the biggest they’ve had in the States). Maybe they weren’t the best band to close a night, but they sure as hell pleased their fans. All I know is that after three days that included pouring ran, blaring heat, and everything in between while running back and forth both sides of Grant Park to watch over 20 bands, I’m done with rocking out…for a least a few weeks.

Bonus coverage: The Trashcan Sinatras, Schuba’s
Medsker: Ah, now you know where the old man has gone. From the moment that I heard “Hayfever” while I was getting ready for work one lazy morning in 1993, the Trashcan Sintatras have owned me, so once I heard that they were going to be in town the weekend that I was supposed to cover Lolla, I begged the Lolla scheduling gods that I would not have to choose between the Trashcans and either Depeche Mode or the Beastie Boys. As it turned out, they were scheduled against the Killers – whom I saw in 2005, and they were fun – or Jane’s Addiction, and with all apologies to the guy that started this whole thing, I’d rather see the Trashcans. Yes, that’s how much they mean to me.

The show was great fun. They played a bunch of tunes from I’ve Seen Everything, including ‘Hayfever,” and a bunch of songs from their new one In the Music, which hopefully will be out in the States soon. And I made good on my promise to buy the guitarist a drink, for which he was most grateful.

And now, we sleep. Full, detailed recap soon to follow. But for now, night night.

  

Passion Pit: Manners

Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room, shall we? Manners, the debut album from Cambridge quintet Passion Pit, sounds a hell of a lot like MGMT. This is not to say that Passion Pit are thieves, mind you; with three keyboard players, a bass player and a drummer, there are only so many ways your band can sound, especially when your singer has a helium-soaked voice like Passion Pit’s singer and songwriter Michael Angelakos. So yes, the band sounds like a streamlined version of MGMT (a.k.a. they don’t dabble in psychedelia), but let’s not throw the book at them just yet. Indeed, Manners is a rather impressive melding of ’80s synth-pop with modern-day technique. Lead single “The Reeling” is stunning, a pop makeover of the Chemical Brothers’ “Star Guitar” with a monster cut & paste drum track. “Folds in Your Hands” has its roots in early ’90s house music, and “Sleepyhead,” with its fairy princess backing vocal line, is insidiously catchy. Whether or not it falls in another band’s shadow, Manners is a good first step; it will be interesting to see where they go from here. (Frenchkiss 2009)

Passion Pit MySpace page

  

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