Like anyone else, I’ve watched the long-running PBS music show for years, but this was the first time I’d ever gotten tickets to a taping. And I could not have been more excited. Florence + the Machine’s debut album, Lungs, has been on near-constant rotation for me since I first heard “Dog Days are Over” on an episode of the British show “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” back in January 2010. For a year and a half, I’d been waiting patiently to hear that Florence Welch and her powerhouse voice would be stopping through town for a show or a festival, until finally, I got an email from a friend that she was coming, but only for an “ACL” taping. He also told me about the new blog ticket giveaway system that had replaced the old mysterious radio method. My husband and I both entered the drawing, and lucky duck that he is, he won a pair of tickets. Thankfully, he is awesome and took me as his date.
After lining up at 11:30 a.m. to get our wristbands, we left for a quick lunch at Jo’s before gaining admission to the second-floor patio bar outside the studio. We drank overpriced beers, marveled about how many people there were and waited to gain entry into the studio. I’d been in the original “ACL” studio in the UT Comm School building during in college and couldn’t believe how small it was. (Not to mention that growing up, I’d always thought that skyline was real.) Stepping foot in the new studio, I was amazed. It’s a bigger space with a tremendous floor area, which is where we ended up standing for the show. That famous twinkling skyline had been updated to include new developments like the Frost Bank tower and myriad cranes.
At promptly 2 p.m., The Machine came out with Florence soon to follow. With her flame-red hair, tiny size and sheer black caftan over a black bodysuit (which I’ve decided will be my new summer telecommuting look), she looked every bit the woodland sprite she acted like as she skipped across the stage and waved her arms around. And anyone who had heard her amazingly powerful singing voice would be surprised at her barely audible speaking voice. She seemed shy but gracious between songs. With only one studio album, Florence + the Machine ripped through most of Lungs‘ tracks and even added a few new songs. Her voice and the lovely instrumentation (which prominently features a harp) sounded just as amazing in person. The highlights of the hour-long set for me were “Drumming Song,” “Cosmic Love” and “Howl,” but nearly every song gave me goosebumps.
The newest season of “Austin City Limits” will begin airing this fall on PBS and will be first show in the new studio at the W Hotel. Find out more at www.austincitylimits.org.