Them Crooked Vultures Jolt Austin City Limits, Plus Phoenix, Avett Brothers Rock Day One

October 3rd, 2009 by J. Edward Keyes Leave a reply »

Photograph by Brian Birzer

The Austin City Limits Festival, held in Austin’s Zilker Park and currently in its seventh year, boasts a bill that roams the stylistic spectrum, but its first day proved a fine opportunity to get a good, long look at the changing face of country.

See Day One of Austin City Limits in photos.

Cool breezes won out against the blazing sun on Friday, which was the perfect complement to the afternoon’s more tranquil music, like fiddler Sara Watkins, late of Nickel Creek, who played an early afternoon set as long on charm and good manners as it was on winsome, airy country. She sounded positively bereft singing “I didn’t lie, but I withheld the truth,” on the quietly aching “Same Mistakes.” This wasn’t music for singing along — it was music for sighing along.

See backstage photos of Phoenix, the Avett Brothers, Blitzen Trapper and more from Day One of ACL.

If Watkins was reserved and traditional, the Avett Brothers were a thrilling study in contrasts, pitting spare and simple instrumentation — acoustic guitar, banjo — against brothers Scott and Seth’s hoarse, violent hollering. Their aggression wasn’t just vocal: the band pogo’d like young punks during “Paranoia in Bb Major” while “Salina” built to a panicky conclusion. If Scott is the sturdy frontman, Seth is the jack-of-all-trades. He moved effortlessly from guitar to piano to drums, and attacked his vocals on “Distraction #74″ with an actor’s intensity, miming out the lyrics with his hands.

Oregon’s Blitzen Trapper mostly tended toward the traditional. Their oaky folk songs were as loaded with lite...

Article Source: Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily


Leave a Reply