ACL: Black Dub In The Hour Of Tranquility
Photos by Marco Torres
It's been a low-key afternoon. It rained again. Still is.
Rocks Off ate some fried chicken and sat in the Vista Equity tent while the gospel quartet Endurance lifted our spirits. It doesn't matter what your spiritual inclination is - you haven't seen dancing until you've watched people getting down to gospel. Bonus: Endurance is from Houston, which means ACL does know the city exists.
On the Austin Ventures stage, the beardy Phosphorescent came about as close as we figure we'll ever come to seeing The Basement Tapes recreated live: Crunchy (and sometimes twinkling) guitars, high harmonies, pulsing bass, steel, lyrics about difficult topics like a disintegrating marriage ("The Mermaid Parade"). Skynyrd-esque ballad "Wolves" (think "Tuesday's Gone") presented them as thinking-man's Southern rockers, but hardly stuffed shirts.
Another dude who has no doubt cranked "Tuesday's Gone" is rockin' Nashville up-and-comer Jon Pardi. Rocks Off heard him on our way to Phosphorescent, and looped back to catch his last couple of songs, figuring it was the closest thing to authentic Red Dirt music this side of Jack Ingram we were likely to see this weekend.
We were right: His last two songs were called "Empty Beer Cans" and "Does Anybody Want to Go Drinkin' With Me," which he dedicated to "all the people who are getting drunk like me tonight." Firehouse Saloon, take note. (Odd Fact: Pardi is not from Texas or Oklahoma, but the granola grounds of Northern California.)
City and Colour
Our last stop of the afternoon was Daniel Lanois' Black Dub, which drew almost as many people as the UT-UCLA game in the Rock Island Hideaway tent. The early going belonged to singer Trixie Whitley, whose whiskey-glazed earth-mama vocals called on James Brown and the Rolling Stones, and Daryl Johnston's bass, which didn't so much come out of the speakers as rise out of the ground.
Lanois' guitar gave these simmering blues songs the atmospheric touch he's so well-known for as a producer. After Whitley left the stage, he introduced the "cinematic portion" of the set, which turned out to be about 10 minutes of leisurely-laid-back guitar improvisation. Black Dub is the real chillwave.
Trivia Question: What's that alt-rock band who had the hit with "I'm Going Home"? We can't remember, but give them acoustic guitars and a little steel and you've got City and Colour.
Overheard At ACL: "I'm not high enough for this yet. Let's make a bold move and go watch Allison Krauss."
Random Notebook Dump: Lots of steel this afternoon. Pardi was all about the steel, and Black Dub had one too, although they didn't play it while we were there.
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