ACL 2012 Thursday Night: Alabama Shakes, at Stubbs
Austin, TX – The sold-out Parish on 6th St. in Austin, TX, played hosts to Father John Misty and Dry The River to end day 1 of ACL 2012.
Anyone catching Dry The River for the first time left as new fans. Performing many songs like Demons from their 2012 debut, Shallow Bed, the band played an opening set of acoustic-based, harmony driven songs that morphed into catastrophic walls of noise. ‘Metal folk’ some might say, often reminiscent of Gorky Zycotic Mynci’s stranger, beautiful moments, and Elbow’s honest moodiness.
Lead-singer songwriter, Peter Liddle, channels a very young Thom Yorke, or again, Guy Garvey (Elbow), with songs that are brutally fragile and honest without pretension. The band is top-notch, equally matching Liddle’s emotions and performance with three-part harmonies, a violin / keys player and a rhythm section that could back a post-rock-metal band.
Father John Misty had a tough act to follow, but Josh Tillman and his Californian folk-rocking troubadours played the majority of their 2012 debut record, Fear Fun, with hedonistic abandonment. Tillman vocally led his band through a set list that perfectly blended enough elements of comedy, LA’s dark soul, country rock swagger, dirty folk sexiness and self-deprecating humor. Fun Times In Babylon, Nancy From Now On, and Every Man Needs A Companion highlighted the set along with a dirty, nasty cover of J.J. Cale’s 13 Days during the encore.
The real highlights are in-between the songs and during songs. It’s hard not to take one’s eyes off of Tillman— a dangerously, weird, beautiful performer who self-mockingly flails around the stage with that amazing voice singing wonderful words that he’s composed (or stolen, who cares?). Father Misty’s performance art teeters a fine line between comedic irony and breakdown-beauty, but the band is always steady, providing a safety net for Tillman’s antics to land in.
Misty’s song interpretations from Fear Fun are performed with ample amounts of passion and proficiency to make up for what Tillman is mocking— the rock n’ roll myth, ego, others, himself— making the performance at Parish beyond memorable, and one of 2012’s most enjoyable shows I’ve seen and heard anywhere… so far.
Andy Whorehall (SM)
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