ACL Fest Preview: Dan Auerbach and Brett Dennen, Two Drastically Different Dudes

Dan Auerbach at SXSW 2009
Dan Auerbach at SXSW 2009
Craig Hlavaty

Today we take another two Austin City Limits performers from the festival's stellar schedule and introduce you to them once again, or for the first time. It's hard to believe that Rocks Off is nearly a week away from the lush green grass and high musical tides of Zilker Park. Not to mention the wicked chafing and the complimentary Tito's Vodka bender we have in store for ourselves. The closer the event gets, the more we get excited about this year's lineup. Early on, the thrill of the weekend was going to be stalking Lily Allen in the media tent and accosting her in the barbecue line. She dropped off the festival's schedule in August, only to be replaced by none other than Them Crooked Vultures, a group so super that someone needs to come up with another word to describe their super-ocity. We say "scrumtrulescent."

Dan Auerbach: One-half of nouveau-gutbucket blues duo the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach released his debut solo album, Keep It Hid, back in February to critical adoration. During SXSW we were lucky enough to see an hour-long set of the new material, which bridges the gaps between the Band and Sam Cooke. Simply put, Keep It Hid is a beautiful album, shambling from snaky Muddy Waters jams like "I Want Some More," to lost AM-lite lullabies "When The Night Comes." The album deviates from the Keys' work only in the sense that Auerbach left all the howling Zeppelin rave-ups with drummer Patrick Carney and turned the volume up on his own soul inflections, previously only hinted at in the Keys. "My Last Mistake" is probably the year's best sad-boy break-up anthem, sounding more like a lost Band B-side than a one-off solo album birthing.

Auerbach's SXSW show was a barn-burning good time, with his backing band smoking the club with their overt tightness. It probably didn't hurt that My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan was handling all the extra percussion duties.

(7:15 p.m. Sunday, October 2, Austin Ventures stage.)
ACL Fest Preview: Dan Auerbach and Brett Dennen, Two Drastically Different Dudes

Brett Dennen: Ginger-haired Brett Dennen may look like the illegitimate offspring of Carrot Top or the sensitive kid brother of Thurston Moore, but the guy has balls. Out of the new class of sensitive, VH-1-approved folkies that came in John Mayer (suck alert!) and Jack Johnson's wake, Dennen comes off more like a fiery-haired Cat Stevens than a pretty face whispering out of a school girl's iPod. Dennen is the kind of sweet singing guy that makes all of us other dudes look like ace scumbags, but we don't mind. If you like your folk guitarists a little bit more authentically forlorn and tortured, but not too threatening, Dennen is your man. On last year's Hope For The Hopeless, Dennen managed to snag none other than Femi Kuti for the single "Make You Crazy," and Ryan Adams spouse Mandy Moore for the video clip. It's the bomb-diggity if you have a shoe fetish. (4:45 p.m. Sunday, October 2, Austin Ventures stage.)

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