Wild Moccasins Abuzz After Sudden ACL Fill-In

The Wild Moccasins' Cody Swann and Zahira Gutierrez on ACL's "Radio Row"
The Wild Moccasins' Cody Swann and Zahira Gutierrez on ACL's "Radio Row"
Photo courtesy of Wild Moccasins/KUTX

The Wild Moccasins started this week off on a high note after what amounted to a pop-up performance at the Austin City Limits Music Festival over the weekend. But even for a last-minute job, everything pretty much went off "without a hitch," reports front man and guitarist Cody Swann.

"The weather was perfect, the staff was very friendly and professional, the sound [was] superb, and the hospitality was excellent," Swann told us Monday afternoon via email. "As a band that sleeps on floors most nights of tour, it was very nice to see that even though we were one of the first bands of the day that we could be treated as well as we were."

Going on before noon last Saturday, the Moccasins opened the lineup on ACL's Miller Lite stage, which later in the day hosted the Rosebuds, Icona Pop and Broken Bells, among others. Even so early in the day, when many festivalgoers were still making their way to Zilker Park (if not still at home), Swann says he was pleasantly surprised to see how well-attended the band's set was. He likens ACL, which he had never attended before, to an "adult summer camp."

"There was a nice sense of camaraderie between the artists that I have not always felt at other festivals," Swann notes.

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Swann explains that the Moccasins, who will not be playing ACL's second weekend, were asked to play about two weeks before the festival. According to the group's manager, Aaron Danger Sainz, some people at C3 Presents, the promoter responsible for booking ACL, have been fans of the Moccasins for a while, and they had already turned down several offers that didn't seem quite right.

"Driving to play Austin on a Tuesday, regardless of who's offering, just doesn't sound ideal," Sainz says.

But after a strong showing opening some regional dates for !!! (pronounced chik chik chik) and then headlining Austin's Stargayzer festival last month, the Moccasins were ready to take one of the handful of the inevitable last-minute ACL openings that arise every year.

"We can get people out in Austin, and it's one of the bands favorite places to play," Sainz says. "They offered the band the spot based on the bands fan base in Austin and ability to perform on a festival level."

With the exception of lead guitarist Andrew Lee, who had a previous commitment with his other band Mikey & the Drags in New York, Swann says the members were all able to rearrange their work schedules in order to free up enough time to make their ACL slot. Stepping in for Lee was guitarist Cley Miller of Young Mammals, who happen to be releasing their latest full-length, Alto Seco, this Saturday at Fitz with the Moccasins joining them.

"Really digging their album," Swann says of Alto Seco, which the Mammals made around the same time as the Moccasins were cutting sophomore effort 88-92, released this past February on New West Records.

"Made for very nice camaraderie in between and during sessions," he adds. "Lots of pop-ins to each other's recordings."

REWIND: Wild Moccasins Get Into the Groove on 88 92

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Zahira Gutierrez of Wild Moccasins
Zahira Gutierrez of Wild Moccasins
Photo by Marco Torres

Back at ACL, the Moccasins also had a chance to up their profile even further by talking to a few of the plentiful media outlets on hand.

"Something like this is a huge leg up for a small band," says Sainz. "Just in that weekend, the band did interviews with Nylon, radio with KGSR [and] KUT, and a ton of other blogs."

Swann, meanwhile, says he spent the rest of his time at the festival watching other bands. Some of them he hadn't seen in years, if ever, so we asked him to expand on a few he liked best.

Belle & Sebastian: More than any band It was great to finally see Belle & Sebastian. I hold them in a special regard, seeing as Zahira got me into them about a decade ago when we were 17. They have been a big influence on the band and especially myself ever since.

Outkast: It's Outkast! Enough said.

The Replacements: I of course had previously resigned myself to the fact that I would never get to see the Replacements. When I heard they were playing the festival I knew I'd have to stick around Sunday for them. There is a lot that can be said about [the band], but besides the amazing albums I've always admired the way they operated.

They put out their first couple records through Twin/Tone on a handshake, for chrissake. I feel truly lucky to have gotten the chance to see them -- and Paul [Westerberg]'s voice was as raspy as I'd hope it'd be after all the years.

All in all, it sounds like the Moccasins' first time at ACL couldn't have gone much better.

"It was a great and the band raved about the experience," says Sainz. "Hopefully next year they can play a little later in the day."

"Just about everyone seemed to be in good spirits, with the ideal weather, nice crowds and sick lineup," agrees Swann. "If anyone were to leave with a complaint, I can't say I'm certain how they've gotten through life this far."

Wild Moccasins play Young Mammals' CD release party this Saturday at Fitzgerald's (downstairs) with fellow special guests Hooked Rugs and Toast, plus a DJ set by Andy V & JAE. Doors open at 8 p.m.


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