PHOTOS / WORDS: James Blake @ ACL Fest 2011 (DAY ONE)

Yesterday was an amazing first day out at Zilker Park in Austin, TX for this year’s 10th running of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. I caught a few sets to warm up the day, with my first exposure to both Delta Spirit and Fool’s Gold leaving me nicely impressed and plenty of warmed-up to move on and get my photo pass on.

First up for me was a guy I’ve heard a lot about through the blogs and media: James Blake. I really had no exposure to his music before I showed up, which is how I like it sometimes, and sadly I wasn’t familiar enough to get to the deeper layers of his crooning and his off-rhythms and it left me slightly uninspired. I think I need to listen to more of his stuff studio style before I can make a full judgment on how that transfers itself to the stage.

James Blake’s music is all about the spaces in between, which doesn’t make it particularly well suited to a festival setting. Moreover, the British singer-songwriter-producer is a reticent sort of fellow, whose idea of pandering to the crowd is pretty much offering a bashful ‘Thanks ever so much!’ at the end of a number. But some of the peculiar hooks in his songs are so irresistible, and his shimmering, powerful, yet understated vocals are so arresting, that his 3 p.m. set at the Honda stage had a surprising amount of impact. []

I got a few good shots of Blake and his mini-band and I’m psyched to share them with you all anyway; just because it didn’t immediately “do it” for me doesn’t mean anything but I need more time with his music to really “get it.” Read on for the full gallery.